It is hidden in the heart of town, in plain sight. It is never overcrowded, so we go when it is not too warm, not frigid. Those weather requirements vary from day to day in an Alabama January.
Today was a perfect day to go. We went in a hurry, to beat the forecasted rain. It was cloudy, but the breeze was pleasant. The 1.1-mile walk is not very tiring.
I loaded Sonny in the back of the truck, and we listened to Kane Brown on the five-minute drive over, arriving at 2:40 p.m. We made our way around the soccer and football fields on the paved walking path, reaching the monument on the right that honors the victims of the April 27, 2011 tornado.
Just to the left is a slow creek, which separates the ballfields from an open green lawn, where people hold picnics, where a local church hosts a trunk-or-treat event in October, at which enough Tootsie Rolls and Skittles are handed out to give a toothless man a cavity. There are picnic tables under a metal blue awning, and nearby is a basketball court with two hoops, both with wooden backboards. Old school, like it used to be. There is also a small playground, where moms push their babies on the swings, making them smile.
Back over to the right side, a dad underhands pitches to one of his two sons. The boy manages to make contact with every swing, despite the lime-green bat being almost as tall as him. He will be a good player, someday. His brother chases foul balls, waiting for his turn at the plate.
We pass a middle-aged woman power-walking, and she says hello. The two teenagers we come to also say hi. So does the old man who has to be sweltering in those blue jeans.
We continue our walk, and there is a Little Free Library behind the batting cages, a barn-shaped red mailbox, essentially, where people can place a book they think others may enjoy. You bring a book, you take a book. It is empty for now, but it is new. I think maybe I’ll bring a couple of my books next time.
Over to the left there is a baseball field designed specifically for individuals with mental and/or physical challenges. It is popular here. Beyond its right field fence is a Veterans Memorial Wall, covered in names.
We get past the baseball fields, and there is another open green space. An old man has jabbed a white pole in the soft ground, a light orange flag attached to its top. It appears the flag was likely once red, decades ago. The man is set up about 65 yards away, maybe a dozen golf balls at his feet. He winds up, swings and hits one right on line, just short of the flag. His next shot lands even closer, maybe five feet. I holler that it was a heck of a shot.
“I get one every now and then,” the man cracks.
We pass him, and I turn around to see one more shot. He does the same thing. He is modest.
Now, our walk is almost over. We pass park and recreation workers in a green John Deere 6×4, riding field to field, turning the damp dirt. Both workers wave at me. So does the lady driving away in her SUV.
It takes just 25 minutes for this walk, from start to finish. We left the house at 2:35, back by 3:10. Sonny is tired for now, thank goodness. There were no ringing cellphones on this quick trip, no need to know who just Tweeted what, no Facebook debates about marching women or inauguration populations.
Yeah, I think we will do this again tomorrow.