I saw an old man in the Park with a pair of shears. His worn brown cloak seemed to billow in the wind, even as he carefully and tenderly cut the stem of a beautiful, fully bloomed sunflower.
A little girl, barely three years of age ran past, giggling as a large, furry brown dog (a labrador?) chased after her. The two of them ran, round and round the park benches, until at last the young child collasped onto the grass in exhaustion, laughing with joy as her dog slobbered slimy drool all over her soft, young face.
Nearby, a family was having a picnic; father, mother and their two sons eating heartily out of a woven thatch basket. Next to them sat grandfather, watched over by a nurse, his bloodstream was fed carefully from an IV drip hanging by his side. Then the youngest son, a toddler of five, waddled over to his grandda: chubby arms outstretched with a small sandwich grasped inbetween. With a slow shake and a smile, the grandfather declined the offer, patting his grandson on the cheek.
A sudden gust nearly caught me off guard, sending rolls of old newspaper tumbling across the pavement. The old man grasped his hat, straining against the wind. Far beyond in the open fields a young boy suddenly lost control of his kite; its green and yellow striped form crashing into the trees. An old lady, bent over with a walking stick, hobbled over to the crying boy with a napkin in her hands, and kind words upon her lips.
Five kids dashing from tree to tree in a myriad pattern of their own devising, giggling, laughing and cheering as they raced. Round and round the park they went, so reckless in their play that one of them tripped, slamming face down into the soft mud of the earth. Sitting up, the young boy smiled, even as the remaining four of his friends turned around to help him up.
The wind had stopped now, as the old man resumed his collecting. A fresh pink flower fell from its branch, only to be caught gently by a pair of pale, wrinkled hands, its petals carefully gathered and pressed into a small black scrapbook hanging by the old man's side. So far he has collected nearly a hundred different petals - some similiar, some different, some belonging to different species, some from the same plant. All of them breathtakingly beautiful, in their own special way.
He sighs, brushing the cover of his scrapbook with a glitter in his eye. With loving care he places the book and its precious contents into a dirty green haversack, smiling in delight at a good day's work.
I too, close my book, pencil and pen returning to the case with a slight snap. The tiny leather-bound tome is slotted into the left pocket of my backpack, while the stationary case enters the right.
Wrapping his cloak around him, the old man leaves, exiting through the wrough-iron gates by the side. I make to do the same, as we both turn back in perfect synchrony for one final glance at the Park. Taking in all its beauty, one last time.
The old man leaves through the wrought iron gates, returning back to the smokey streets and grey-soaked landscapes of society. I watch him as he does so, unwilling to leave so soon, yet fully aware that the Park will close in time. Each step takes him further away, dimmer and dimmer, till all that could be seen was the outline of his brown tattered cloak flapping in the dust-laden breeze.
Yet I know, no matter gloom or pain, no matter or shadow or fog; for as long as he carries that scrapbook a piece of the Park shall always remain with him.
A beacon throughout the storms of life.