Art, in many localities, is given a budget by city hall. Artists are commissioned to produce public art for public consumption. Public art springs up in parks, in downtown open spaces near city halls, by busy streets and intersections. The art is most often not controversial and makes people think about something other than themselves.
This modest sculpture, of kids climbing a rock feature, is close to shops by the business edge of the Fountain Hills park. Over six foot high, it has been positioned in a flower bed,close enough to be noticed, but not so close that it can be tripped over. It is weathered and has the same coloring as the trees and shrubs around it and doesn’t call attention to itself except it is about kids and people either like, or hate kids.
The little boys in this sculpture are climbing a rock feature..The little girl cradles her baby sister below them and admires a flower, not paying the boys efforts much mind.
Boys and girls, for those who would wish otherwise, were never made the same.
We all love to climb, but we don’t all climb the same peaks.
There are plenty of mountains I can scale but does that make me more important than you?
Do women really want their men riding in the back seat of the family car?
What’s abnormal about caring for your baby sister?
There are no sharp edges, nothing to scrape or cut, no nails, splinters, burrs or broken glass. The brightly colored posts can be walked around but are not easily climbed, colors are primary, and water falls from the triangular sails like a cool rain. The shapes here are organic and you can hide behind,or touch to your heart’s content.
Children’s voices are amplified and they are involved in their play, walking and running, under, and through the water. Their voices make a soothing melody. Besides the sails that give shade,there is a green sea serpent in the middle of this installation and a maroon lighthouse that gives the park its nautical theme.
The kids are happy this morning, inquisitive, co-operative, playful.
Temperatures will rise into the nineties with no rain forecast for the next several weeks, and, if I’m a kid, I can’t think of a better place to be while my adults are acting like bigger kids somewhere else.
The boy walking the sidewalk in front of me is tossing a banana into the air and catching it as he walks. It could be a baseball, a football. a soccer ball, a stone or a pencil. Boys toss things into the air, catch them, and feel good with the world as it is.
Along the way, he stops at a slightly leaking hose that has been repaired before with wire that has become rusted and no longer solves the problem. He kneels down and inspects the water problem, holds the banana alongside the hose as if it would make a splint if he only had something to tie it to the hose and complete the operation. Boys like to fix things.
I pass and continue down the sidewalk on my way to the Colonial Zone.
A leaky hose is a problem we can solve in a world leaking problems.
For now, throwing and catching stuff is mostly what is on this boy’s mind
Girls will change his equations, in a few years, and his chalkboard will look like Einstein had a hallucination.
Throwing and catching brings back some of my happiest times.
The map on one of the Starbuck’s walls shows several continents.
When you spread the world out, pin it to a wall, you take out all its bumps, contours, unknowns, inconsistencies.
When Columbus laid out his world map on the sturdy table in his Captain’s quarters his map didn’t show him his crew’s fears, terrible ocean squalls and rolling waves taller than the three little ships in his expedition, stacked one atop the other..
When John Glenn walked on the moon, the maps in NASA headquarters didn’t tell the consistency of the sand that he hit his golf ball off of.
This world map focuses on longitudes and latitudes best suited for growing coffee, just one of Starbuck’s many products.
Our world has knitted together so tightly that we can enjoy foods from far away, foods that Kings used to have difficulty procuring. Now we don’t have to travel to a coffee zone to enjoy fresh coffee.
This little girl is talking to her mother on her Apple wrist phone. The only person on the planet using wrist communication devices when I was her age was the newspaper comic strip hero – Dick Tracy. Kids have come a long way since the 50’s.
What new technologies will come true in this little girl’s lifetime?
Will she see scientists grow and replace dysfunctional human organs? Will she be transported through time and space? Will her kids take their food in pills? Will her children be taken from her to be raised by the State? Will her world be without borders? Will there be off-world colonies turned into travel destinations?
This morning I’m reflective.
It is good to have children in our world but they have to grow up quicker than we did.
They weren’t something he wanted as a childhood dream, but his adopted kids wanted chickens so he built them a first rate coop, feeds them, keeps their cage clean, and can’t kill them because his daughter would cry.
” Do they lay eggs in the winter, ” I ask?
” They slow down, ” Stan says, ” they lay eggs four or five years. ”
” Then what? ”
Stan takes a moment and judiciously answers, ” Leave the coop and the gate to the back yard open and hope they take a trip and forget how to get home. ”
Chickens are eaten all over the world, but looking at them makes me uneasy.
Why do I want to eat an animal that lives in a cage, pecks in the dirt for its food,and use their front yard as a bathroom?
What does Stan do with the cage when his kids grow up and leave home?
The coop is too small for Mother-In-Law quarters and it doesn’t come with a big screen TV.
In Charlie’s front entry, his project materials are carefully spread on the floor.
There are drills and hammers, paint brushes, screwdrivers, scissors and a set of instructions, if needed. Charlie is building a Rocking Horse for his newest grand-daughter.
In Charlie’s newest project, the rocking horse rockers are made first with each part drawn on good wood, cut, sanded,primed and painted. The next step is attaching the separately made body and legs of the horse, to the rockers, with glue and thick screws. The last steps are doing details; a bridle, a saddle with stirrups, a mane, eyes, a mouth and tail with accessories from his wife Sharon’s sewing room.
The rocking horse, when time to visit arrives, will be loaded in the back of their SUV and delivered in person to Memphis, Tennessee.
At night, Meghan will talk to her horse softly, and, when things are tough, will wrap her little arms around the horse’s broad head and give it a kiss.
There is always more to a rocking horse than a set of instructions, screws and nails, and paint.
Inside the downtown Marble Street Brewery, adults pursue spirits, music, networking, barbecue ribs, chips and salsa, self promotion, smoozing, passionate political arguments, petty man/ woman/ transgender spats, soothing ruffled feathers, looking for sex, patching up business deals.
Outside the brewery, kids, watched by Mom’s, build castles with lego’s on the sidewalk.
When little, we played baseball at dusk in the street,rode simple bicycles down to the local five and ten, dug tunnels in arroyos. In evening baseball we could barely see the white tennis ball coming at us as we stood in the batter’s box. Home plate was a street manhole and first, second and third bases were chalked in at the curbs. We were still playing when the night streetlights came on.
Adults were nowhere to be seen, leaving us to our own devices, waiting for us to grow up.
This evening reminds me of the 1950’s.
These kid’s skyscrapers are already teetering from the weight of the next block.
Their screams, as their skyscraper falls and blocks spread over the sidewalk like a witch doctor’s bones, are happy.
When I eat breakfast with the kids, i sit with Diana, Jenny, and Hannah, an intern at Ms. Sue’s.
This morning the girls want to see pictures on my phone and flip through the camera roll. Kids like to see pictures and really like to see pictures of themselves.
Jenny takes my I Phone and snaps a selfie.
When you take a selfie it says ” See me “, as well as ” love me. ”
I don’t know when I’m coming back to Haiti, but, as Jenny reminds me, ” God knows. ”
She is a natural.
Maybe she will be a photographer, or an engineer, or a mathematician, or a mom, or a teacher, or all of them?
I would like to see that and have breakfast again, one of the kid’s, at our table on the back porch.
For now,my chores are done and I’m flying home tomorrow. It will be a long and tortuous taxi ride to the airport and Ms. Sue and Hannah will go too, drop me off, and then have the driver take them to pick up diapers, food staples, baby formula and used clothes in Port Au Prince for the kid’s that need them. Ms. Sue doesn’t drive anymore and a taxi ride to buy stores in Port Au Prince is not only expensive, but sometimes futile because items are not in the stores to buy..
These kid’s futures are scary.
Haiti is a place where Darwin’s theory of the Survival of the Fittest is playing out in the worst way.
The washer and dryer at Ms. Sue’s starts early in the morning and ends late at night.
With forty two kids, clothes get dirty and, even with throw away diapers, there is hardly time to wash dry,fold, and hang. Some of the clothes are hand washed in buckets in the front yard and girls are most often saddled with this task, though Peter was scrubbing his white sneakers yesterday morning.
Ms. Sue wants the laundry location changed, because, near the house, the soil gets wet and makes mud that gets tracked into the house.
The new laundry area is in the shade, pebbles bordered by heavy rocks borrowed from a collapsed retaining wall next to the guest house.
The girls wash today, but, mostly, they laugh, talk, learn what it is to be a woman in Haiti from one of the staff adults keeping an eye on them.
Clean clothes are a treasure, especially when you have no treasure chest to put them in.