Last week, we made plans to meet up with some friends at Anna Jean Cummings Park (also known as Blue Ball Park) in Soquel. It’s a favorite spot of many in the area and my friend said it would be a good spot for some puddle jumping, plus the kids can ride scooters or bikes on the paths there and play on the multiple play structures and slides.
So we packed extra clothes and rain boots, expecting the boys would tromp in the puddles and mud and get a little wet.
A little wet. Only a little.
And then we arrived to find this.
It’s not a park. It’s a lake. An oversized pond. A swimming pool.
My son was overjoyed. He was already in his rain boots and rain jacket. He practically dove right in.
The boys played around the smaller playground for a while, where there was still some flooding but a considerable amount less.
There were many worms in the puddles and mushy sand. The boys took full advantage of this and found earth worms, small and large alike.
The top photo is one of my favorite pictures of my son. I love how he really gets close to things to examine and explore them. He has always been this way. My friends and I used to refer to it as “sleepy play,” because he would get down low to roll vehicles around or to put connective toys together.
These images, too, show how he loves to play. He was happy to find another child’s toy stash, which he so sweetly asked to play with before taking out every single toy that family had brought with them.
After playing with trucks and rollers, my son took this family’s boat and slid it down the slide, following quickly behind it. On this go-round, he went right into the water. He acted as if it were what he’d meant to do, but I think this face says otherwise.
I had a hard time not photographing other people’s children enjoying this turn of events. This little girl sat on the tire swing for a long time, making such elegant and sweet lines. Her brother came and swung her around and I wanted so much to photograph their laughter and playfulness. It was so heartwarming. But I tend to feel that these are not my images to capture and hold myself back, even if I could probably find a way to get the pictures to their parents. It feels too much like the creepy old man at the playground even if my pull is to freeze these joyful moments in time.
My son, too, swung in the water, twisting and splashing and going for it full force, as he does. I am always amazed to watch him play. I am timid. I am cautious. I move gingerly and awkwardly. But my son is sure-footed and easygoing like his father.
I do like an unexpected surprise, though. I was so grateful I had brought my camera that day, as well as my zoom lens. Though I had no desire to tromp and splash in the water, I felt like a kid being able to photograph our boys doing just that. My photography is my art and expression, but it’s also how I play, though I know it’s less physical and more mental.
But when I see an image that makes my heart leap, it’s that same feeling that these children probably experienced upon first laying eyes upon this lake of a park. What new ways can I play today? What new ways can I see the world?