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Playground city

Muni's picture

On saturday’s playful city adventure, my group set out with only a vague plan. We would go to the sculpture garden, then figure out from there what we wanted to do next. On the way to the art museum, we stopped at the Rodin museum’s garden, to check out the sculptures there as well. We spent a little bit of time at each, mostly quiet, pointing out expressions and abnormally large hands. We took some pictures, mine mostly of the fountain, and set off to the other sculpture garden.

We trudged up the stairs to the museum, took some more photos of the museum and the dramatic fountain in front of it, then walked around to the back side to see some sculptures. The sculpture garden was on a hill down to the river. There was a rectangular glass building in front with some stairs going down visible through its transparent walls, so we walked in, then down the stairs, excited for what we might behold. It turned out to be a parking garage. Not disheartened, we continued down the path, and found 3 sculptures I can only describe as worm-shaped reaching into the sky. One was green, another pastel pink, and the third pale blue, and the sign near them told us we could touch them. We hugged them and sat on them, then wandered to the part of the garden that overlooked the river. There was a sheet of water coming down the wall next to it, and I took the opportunity to climb the wall up behind the water, then reach over and put my hands in it. The rest of the group followed suit, and we spent a few minutes splashing as some other people took pictures of the view. After playing with the fountain, we climbed some rocks and saw an even better view of what looked like paddle boats in the river. We clambered back down the rocks and went to see if there actually were paddle boats, and, we were hoping, the possibility of riding one. It turned out that there were no paddle boats, but we found a cafe with locally sourced organic food. 

We got some snacks and sat on a wall, our legs dangling above the water. It wasn’t even lunch time, but we’d already seen things we would not have expected; a small white cat, a caterpillar, a man working out in blue leg warmers, and a heron. We hadn’t planned on coming down to the bank of the river, so the things we saw were all pleasant surprises. It made me think of Sunstein’s essay on serendipity, because the things that we found without looking made the trip worth it. Later, after walking for what felt like hours in search of the perfect lunch food, we saw a castle in the middle of the city, complete with intricate  gargoyles. It was a complete surprise, and something we wouldn’t have seen if we’d been able to find the first restaurant we’d been looking for. 

Overall, we played quite a bit. We climbed stairs to a gazebo and threw pennies towards a fountain, unsure if they reached their destination. We swung on swings, taking turns pushing and swinging, only worrying a little bit about the structure shaking when two of us swung in sync. We took photos of the cat that we found and the fat green caterpillar pointed out to us by some strangers, and of the cool forks at the place we had lunch. And during the Quiet Volume, we smiled at each other as we followed each others fingers in the various texts. 

As someone who’s lived in a city for as long as I can remember, the trip didn’t really change my perspective in a noticeable way. What did stick out to me was how different my experience as a carefree player was from my usual routine. It was easier to let my experience really be serendipitous, and let the city’s playground lead me.