In the Hefner sun, greeting a veteran and chatting with artists, Elders and an energetic trio walked
Published: November 13th, 2020
Oklahoma City – The splendor of resurgent nature drew three youngsters to Lake Hefner for a Veterans Day adventure – two lads of early elementary age, and a lass age two – accompanied by their grandparents for a pleasant 90 minutes.
All this, without electronic devices. Unless, that is, you count Opa’s cellphone, doubling as a camera, Oma’s flip-phone, and that portable device, fully-charged to allow for youthful photography, carried by one of the boys.
Evidence of the recent early winter storm was evident every step along the trail. Park crews had already cleared a lot of debris, yet the denser parts of the woods bore clear evidence of ravaged trees with shattered limbs, some stalwarts that will never again bear leaves reaching for the sky while waving in the wind and guarding the shore.
A wide variety of water fowl frequented the quiet cove where the walk began, diving for nourishment and contesting once over something vaguely territorial.
The boys identified a range of colors in trees they had studied, the day before, in science class.
Oaks, White Birches, Red Buds, and Magnolias – sunflowers, bushes, conifers, large and small. A dozen or two walkers, a few bikers, a working man cleaning inside and around the porta-potty near the parking lot.
At water’s edge Ducks and Geese scurried at the walkers’ approach, but responded eagerly to offered treats of barley.
Along the trail, the youngsters visited a Korean War-Era veteran, an elderly gentleman walking “Bella” – a miniature canine with high “cute” quotient. While the kids fawned over the little creature, Opa spoke with the fellow, thanking him for his service. A beautiful moment, indeed.
Along a spur of the trail, artists Dylan Bradway and Brooke Rowlands worked creatively in preparation for the November 12 formal launch of a “funky floral mural” on vertical spaces of the skate park adjoining Stars and Stripes Park, 3701 South Lake Hefner Drive.
Responding to a reporter’s query, Parks and Recreaton Director Doug Kupper said, “We love it anytime we can introduce art into our park system. The Funky Floral mural that is underway at Stars and Stripes skate park adds a fun pop of color to the area.”
As for the quiet journey of the youthful walkers and their two elder companions/sentinels, all good things must come to an end, but first: Released from the confines of her stroller, the little lass joined the two lads in the sandy soil alongside the South Hefner trail for long moments, enjoying the touch of the granules, burying their hands wrist-deep in cooperative soil.
The trio then walked along, hand-in-hand, following Oma back to the parking lot.
Opa lingered behind, watching them. His heart filled with memories of days long-gone, and reminisced over his own days of yore – biking or, later, driving around the north side of a growing city and, occasionally, venturing as far as the shores of Hefner.
Then, in high school days, Lake Hefner was the site of long runs – not Marathons, mind you, but miles enough.
Now, he walks rather slowly, with a cane or even two. Three or four blocks is sometimes the extent of it, but all the strolls are good, these days.
This one will be cherished until memory fades.
Bursts of flames in the trees – golden, a bold brown, red and even purple in the sun – were leavened by lingering green. It was enough to … warm the heart, quiet the spirit and gentle the soul, a welcome respite from the broader tumult.
Note: Founder of CapitolBeatOK.com, an online news service based in Oklahoma City, and publisher of The City Sentinel, an independent and locally-owned newspaper, Pat McGuigan is a journalist and educator.