Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Reminiscences Add Spice To Life

"Is that a Huskie?" That was me posing the seemingly knowledgeable question, having watched about the Iditarod, the great sled dog race, on TV, to a man in the midst of putting a tether on a magnificent dog just outside SweetBay.

“No, it’s a Chow-chow,” replied the man proudly with a glint of amusement in his eyes. Oouch, that’s embarrassing. Just because you have seen the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day during which all pedigrees of the canine world were on display, strutting around, full of grace or cuteness as the case may be, doesn’t make you a dog expert overnight, I reminded myself.

But to one who was used to the company of mongrels, mutts, and other mixed breeds (but that must be more than 30 years ago), it’s not easy to tell them apart, especially when they are really apart. However, if they are placed next to each other, like the two images here, then I guess it’s a different story (incidentally, the one on the right is a chow2, if you’re wondering).

Let’s get back to something I’m more familiar, like the Bayshore Boulevard, and the scenic view there. The Bayshore Blvd is like a million dollar home row lined with mansions and expensive condos overlooking the Hillsborough Bay. It’s a 4-lane thoroughfare skirting the Bay (hence bayshore) that links South Tampa to the downtown area. Its popularity is also due to the fact that along the length of the Boulevard on the bayside is a wide pedestrian walkway that also doubles as a bicycle track, jogging track, promenade, and skating rink, but a linear one.

The peak traffic is either in the morning or in the evening during which time all manners of users move from one end to the other, some doubling back.

Earlier this week we took a morning stroll along the Blvd after dropping off our daughter at her school just after 7 am. The morning air was crisp, the scent fresh, and the morning sky a splendid hue due to the sun rays piercing the slightly overcast sky, and the sun spotting a bright orange blob just above the horizon. The lone human form leaning against the balustrade lends a pensive mood to the shot.

Then we caught sight of this cluster of tree branches essentially in a horizontal position, in an apparent attempt to defy both the law of gravity that acts downward and the innate yearning for the sunlight for photosynthesis that acts upward. Maybe the two opposing tendencies just balance out due to a quirk in plant physiology. Anyway, if you look close enough, you will notice that the branches belong to the tree by the side while the trunk in the middle actually is a palm well hidden by the encroaching branches.

That Christmas is in the air is evident from the wreath hung below a lighted post next to an equally erect tree that ends in a round flurry of leaves. The pair, while makes for strange bedfellows as incongruent as it can get, nonetheless strikes a kind of matching togetherness that only a couple who has gone through thick and thin can evoke, facing the world in like mind yet giving space for each to grow. None of the suffocating display of co-joined form that could smother any tendency for love to evolve nor the master and slave bondage premised on possession and obeisance. Just two beings in mutual support.

On the way home from the morning outing, we dropped by a park equipped with basketball courts, playground, a fountain guarded by four lion statues, in a sitting position, each back to the fountain forming two orthogonal lines. The morning silence was broken by two dogs chasing a tennis ball tossed by their master, each trying to outdo each other in an apparent duel for the prized catch. We greeted the man, but stayed a discreet distance from the canines, they being unleashed put us on red alert, though the owner assured us that his dogs are really friendly.

Guess what we encountered on the court? An old game setup that we used to play when we were young. We grew up in a very rural setting, and those days (early 1960s) we only had radio to listen to. But space abounded. Bushes, thickets, and shrubs were our popular haunts, but not for foraging. Rather, we were catching fighting spiders for game. So in a way we were biological agents of change, spreading the population of wild spiders as well as dispersing the wild flower seeds adhered to our clothes, sometimes as far as cross town in our quests to identify worthy foes for our prized catch. Coming back to the game, the layout comprises a series of squares patterned as shown. Each gamer has a small object, it could be a pebble if the layout is on a earthen plot like back home, or a cloth bag of sand if it is a hard pavement like here, and the rule is to place the object on the first square, then hop single-leggedly over it to cover all the other squares, one at a time but both legs on the two adjoining squares only, and picking up the object on the return trip while remaining single legged. This is followed by tossing the object onto the second square and so on until the object reaches the top square. That's where it gets a bit tricky. The gamer has to retrieve the object in the top square with the back facing the square. At least this is the version played in my hometown. Gamers here may have a different convention. Let me know if it is.

Autumn foliage comes late to Florida. It's even a rarer sight in Tampa. So on one of our trips North to Gator Country, we shot this, while cruising along next to Lake Alice. The lake brought back a lot of fond memories, especially my wife. She used to babysit for other student parents in the same Corry Village that we stayed for four years. Many a day she would push a stroller to the playgrounds in the village, flashing her signature engaging smile, a common sight for the residents. Most of these kids are the peers of my S and D, so by now they are either in college or college bound, just like my kids. What's the odd of meeting any one of them now? Would they be able to remember the warm hands that had fed them, the sweet lullaby that had put them to sleep? I wonder.

Oh, I can really reminisce. But it's time to come back to the now and face reality. So until my nostalgia bug strikes again, stay well.


CY said...

Ah, memories... I wonder in particular about mom's uber favorite, David, the cherub-like baby she used to babysit. Or, as she fondly called him, "David-a".

Nice pictures! That game is called Hopscotch here, but I never really understood how to play it, nor was I really interested.

As for the canine confusion at the top, May would chastise you if she knew you mistook a Chow (her favorite dog kind) for a Huskie (coincidentally, MY favorite dog kind)!!! (Although I am a cat person.)

Say Lee said...

Yeah, it would be nice if she could bump into one of them now. But she did, Yao Ye and Alex (photo only or rather his elder sis).