I had hoped to head out to one of our favourite local parks, Andrew Haydon Park, as one of the items on my summer bucket list. In my mind, I would pack a healthy, tasty picnic lunch and we’d enjoy it in the mild summer sunshine of a Friday afternoon. Summer has more or less gone now, but this week has been treating us to a few more days of hot weather. After work yesterday we realized it was warm outside, we both had the evening free so I decided, let’s do it!
So we hopped in the car, picking up ice cream on the way rather than a picnic, and in a few minutes we were there.
We started out sitting on a bench, sampling our ice cream before little J couldn’t help but go chase the seagulls this way and that. Then we moved to playing in the sand by one of the wooden ship play structures, and soon enough another family arrived, popping on the water and encouraging their little guy strip down to play and splash and slide. I had thought we’d avoid all that but one look at this kid and mine was pulling his clothes off.
It was pretty funny to watch while he ran around and splashed, drenching his toes in the water, then racing off onto the grass. After watching the other kid do it over and over, my little J finally plucked up the courage to slip down the huge silver slide into a giant mud puddle, a squealing, running blur in his little Batman briefs. I was worried he’d land face first, but he didn’t, and would do a hilarious little victory dance, then run around around in a wide circle following each successful dismount.
Once they left, little J ran around a ton and dried off, so we started to walk towards the water and the bandshell. There’s a tunnel under the road, perfect for running through at full speed clutching my hand and shouting happily to hear his voice echo. There was a bridge to clomp over. And then, there was the sun starting to set gloriously over the water and through the trees. Lots of space to run and play, and we picked our way across the rocks at the edge of the water until J decided it was time to lay down smack in the middle of a grassy field and rest. We joined him, laying and listening as the evening started to settle in around us.
It’s such a beautiful park, with geese and ducks, groundhogs, chipmunks, squirrels, and even a frog or two hopping out from underfoot. There’s little picnic tables scattered around, two massive playground areas and lots of paths for walking and cycling. They have barbecue pits, a water fountain and washrooms, plus lots of space to just walk and think and enjoy. It’s so spread out that it doesn’t seem too busy.
And the sunset. People were set up here and there in chairs and on benches, talking quietly or taking selfies, but all with one goal in mind: to watch the sun dip farther and father behind the treeline, setting the water into ripples of fire. It was stunning!
We finally made our may back to the car, hungry and full of sand, but so satisfied. I’m glad we got to go there one last time this summer.