My Crowded Park


Yesterday I walked my dog earlier than usual. The day was sunny and a bit windy. I avoided the park and headed up my court, turned the corner and said to my black lab, “Pull me up the hill, Pepper.”

And she did. A boy on an electric scooter flew by, followed by a mom with a camera on her helmet, pulling a younger child on one of those “third wheel” add-ons.

When we’d gone three blocks and it was time to turn onto our usual route, I said, “C’mon Pepper, let’s do the long walk today.”

But she had to poo. So I waited, and as she struggled to get that last poo out, a little girl came scooter-ing by. I scanned the sidewalks for her mom and found her half a block away, walking two huge Newfoundland dogs. She had 300 pounds on two leashes.

The girl was seven or eight or nine, I’m not sure. Anyway, she stopped to give me advice about my dog, whose leash was wrapped around a bush as Pepper struggled to finish her pooping business.

I panicked. Children are vectors in the whole virus scenario. She is young. I am old. I wanted to scream at her, “Get away from me!”

But how do you scream at a seven year old on a scooter?

I turned my back to the girl and responded, ”She’s having trouble pooping.”

The girl seemed satisfied with my answer and continued down the sidewalk. Then her older sister flew by me in the street but didn’t speak.

A man with his big dog was coming down the hill on the same side of the road as I was. I looked back to see if I could cross the street, and I saw a man jogging up behind me with two teens on roller skates.

Crap! There was nowhere to go to avoid people.

Three teens were jogging together on the other side of the street coming toward me. Side by side, they weren’t practicing social distancing at all.

I braced for the skaters to go by, and the man with the big dog crossed the street to get away from me.

“There are people everywhere!” I said to the gray-bearded man.

“I know, right?” he answered back.

Pepper and I turned at the next street and headed downhill on our usual longer route. St. Christopher was not nearly as busy as El Capitan, but just when I thought things had calmed down, the man and the two skaters came up behind us again!

Of all the people I encountered on the walk, I was by far the oldest. But I was also the one with the squirrel-iest dog, so not taking a walk is not an option.

A teen girl stepped off the curb and into the street  for me when we got too close to each other. I tried to speak to her, but she was on her phone.

I headed up the next block to my house. When I got to the park, there was the woman with the two Newfoundland dogs but no scooter girls in sight. The playground has been officially closed down because people were congregating.

A man up the hill had just unclipped the leash on his dog, and a young adult with two brown Standard poodles was right behind him.

I hurried up the last leg and for the grand finale, I got to the fork in the sidewalk first, headed left and went around my hedge and turned into my front yard.

That was a lot of people!  It’s hard to social distance on a beautiful sunny day in the suburbs. Tomorrow I will wait until lunch time to walk.

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