If you were to bring a new friend to your hometown and give them a personal tour, what is a meaningful place you would show them?
Elm Park is a five-minute drive down Pleasant Street from my house. Growing up, my parents took me to the park’s playground, which I frequented until I tumbled off a swing and chipped my tooth. I boycotted Elm for years, until I became old enough to not hold grudges against inanimate entities. It became a place I bonded with my father: a place to share rituals.
Around Elm loops a sidewalk trafficked by bikers and runners. My father and I enter this flow at the park's southwest corner. Each time we complete a lap, we “slap the map” of the park. We walk around the park at least three times to build up an appetite for blueberry muffins at the Price Chopper across the street. Low fat for my dad, and regular for me.
We head back to Elm with our treats and sit on our favorite bench overlooking the pond. Geese typically congregate around this spot, and If they are lucky, we will have brought them sunflower seeds or dried blueberries. These friends swim under the maroon footbridge pinching the shores into a bowtie. The peaceful flow of Elm temporarily cleanses the troubles of everyone at the water's edge.
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