In case you are wondering why it takes 40 minutes to walk the block and a half to the camel park in Brooklyn, with young Ignacio, most extremely cute grandson, I can now tell you:
• Litter is very interesting. Even the nicest street has some litter, and litter is full of possibility. Litter raises endless questions and answers almost none. A wafting plastic bag can be chased, kicked and chased some more.
• The cement mixer. A large machine that makes interesting noises and rotates. Enough said.
• Cast iron fences that need to be touched. Every post and railing needs to be touched, and tested for strength.
• Cast iron gates that need to be pushed open, pulled shut, then pushed open again.
• A plastic fork lying on the sidewalk. A discussion ensues: since I would rather he does not put this particular fork in his mouth, I must assert to Ignacio that this particular fork is dirty, and possibly too hot to handle.
• Curbs to be straddled and balanced upon.
• Free books on a stoop, quite a nice selection: Melville’s Typee, Conversations with a Dead Friend, a novel by William Least Heat Moon, and Postcards of Kentucky 1900-1950. We decide on Kentucky because there is a lovely picture of a horse wearing a garland of roses on the cover. Ignacio identifies this horse as a cow, which is normal for him.
• Old dead leaves that dance along the sidewalk and drift down from trees. These leaves can be caught, waved about, pounded upon and stepped upon. They are so versatile and interesting.
• Men with hoses and brooms.
It is a good thing to walk a block or two or more with young Ignacio and realize just how interesting – how possible – everything is. While he is opening and shutting gates and balancing upon curbstones, I find myself going slow enough to consider the sidewalk, the material it is made of, its cracks and lumps, and the tree roots that obtrude. I take note of the species of dead leaves that have fallen from the street trees, and think about the elegance of the gingko and why is that particular shape so extra-pleasing, and then I lapse into a moment of sheer longing for the huge sycamore leaves that fell in the front lawn of our first house in Hastings, and how we raked them in the fall and jumped into the piles and raked them again. There is time to squint into the windows of garden apartments, and imagine the surreal delights of living half under, half above ground. I make judgments based on window treatments. I wonder who came up with that strange conjunction of words: window treatments. I think about Iggy touching hundreds of objects that have been touched by hundreds of other hands that have also touched objects in hundreds of other places, and the world seems simultaneously enormous and compact.
Then we climb on the chipped but much loved camel of the camel park of Fort Greene.