Thursday, September 9, 2010

View from the Treadmill

Light rain puddles in the brick, gravel, and grass courtyard serving as playground for the school outside the gym window. Inside, my shoes rhythmically thump the treadmill facing outside. About 100 oh, maybe fourth- or fifth-graders burst from school doors for morning recess and scatter throughout the area. Most wear school-bus-yellow slickers, Facebook-logo-blue ponchos, or summery jackets. Some sport rubber galoshes, but most wear athletic shoes, some with glittery laces. I wish my childhood had included purple-flowered, pink galoshes. And why didn't Keds think up glittery laces back in the fifties?

One boy kicks a large blue ball into the gym window. Boom! (Thankfully, no glass breaks.) I don't think the kids can see inside, or maybe they just don't look. Certainly, however, they can see the window is glass. After one boom, the boy joins about half the kids for a massive soccer scramble on the grass beyond the courtyard.

In the closer, pebbled area, a weathered gray bench under a tree sees quite a bit of action. First, a small girl parachutes from the bench with her black-and-white-flowered umbrella open. Then a small boy ~ apparently not wanting to imitate Mary Poppins ~ jumps up and down on the bench while poking his open black umbrella into a tree branch above. His aim seems to be to knock down some dangling seed pods. The wind, however, turns parachute into bowl, and the boy futilely jabs the umbrella sideways in the air and jumps off the bench to try to fix it another way. Later, a very tall girl strides over to the bench, steps up on it, calmly reaches up and grabs a handful of seed pods, steps down, and tosses the twirlies to the wind.

Meanwhile, two very slender girls, walking with dainty ballerina steps under a doll-sized, pink, ruffled parasol, repeatedly circle the playground perimeter, as if on a track. Deep in animated conversation, they seem oblivious to surroundings.

My heart goes out to one sad-eyed girl gazing at the ground while lagging 10 paces behind two girls zigzagging around with a string between them. When the two girls stop, Lonely Girl stops right behind them but doesn't look up. They don't look at her. Then they move on. This scenario repeats so many times, I'm screaming from the treadmill, "Look at her! Smile at her!" (Thankfully, I'm alone in the gym.) One girl smiles at Lonely Girl and gives her the string. Then the three of them chase each other around, laughing. I can see that when one of the two girls chases, it's a light, breezy ha-ha-hearted game. But when it's Lonely Girl's turn to chase, despite her smile and flying
glittery shoestrings, it's a heavy-hearted hoping game.

A boy comes close to the gym window, positions his galoshes inside brick outlines, cranes his neck downward, and stares ~ for a long time. I am surprised he does this when he could splash in the puddle right next to him.

When the drizzle stops and umbrellas fold ~ except for the still-circling, ruffled, ballerina parasol ~ butterflies come out. Poncho-ed arms poke out to the sides, and kids fly, flapping yellow and blue wings. Swooping and soaring, they run willy-nilly, gleefully weaving among red, khaki, pink, and purple playmates. Next thing I know, several teachers have strung the rainbow into straight lines to file back into school.


tandemingtroll said...

I love the pictures you paint with words. And I identify with the lonely girl, at least when I was a child.

AquaJane said...

yeah, me too