Notes on a Saturday afternoon by the Tennessee River

HarperCake 001At Coolidge Park with Julie and the kids and the rest of the family for Harper’s first birthday party. Mostly, she got clothes. The best was the monkey outfit I picked out for her.

Out here in the daylight my OCD is pointing out every single speck of dust or skin or crumbs on my MacBook. Gross, and distracting.

We started out with Harper’s dad (Julie’s brother) Jamie grilling burgers by the river underneath the Walnut Street Bridge that holds pedestrians strolling back and forth over the Tennessee River. The Hunter Museum of American Art stands guard on the south bank and a carousel greets visitors to the north shore.

Now, Harper and the others are splashing in the fountains spraying up from the ground beside the ring of spinning wooden horses. Wild animals surround the fountain watching children and grownups play. Elephants and horses, a giant sea turtle, and a lion stand at eternal attention in concrete around the water.

The morning was overcast this morning and looked like rain, but blue sky chased the gray clouds away and left a beautiful day in their wake. As usual, we didn’t want to leave the house and, following another pattern, we are having a good time now that we’re out and about.

I think we’ve got some great photos from the day. Harper was dressed as a fairy or something–all wings and flowers–and smiling from ear to ear like a little girl on her first birthday. She may grow on my yet.

PipeBoat 002Coolidge Park is a pretty great place. Strange, but I think this is my first time here since it opened to the public years ago. What is it now? Five years? Ten? Maybe more. It’s a gorgeous here by the water and smells like laughter washed in coconut oil and chlorine. Lots of wet people running and giggling in the sun while others sit watching and smoking cigarettes in the shade.

A bearded man with long hair and a hippie’s bald spot sets his Bible down to watch children play and smile. Two boys in khaki pants and oversized golf shirts soaked to the bone. Over in the field, we saw two of the whitest guys south of the Canadian border trying to look cool while their shoulders redden in the sun.

Julie is taking her shift as photographer chasing our baby niece through the water. I saw a soaking Jordan astride an elephant a moment ago, his sister Kat on a horse. All of them are damped to soaked whether they are wearing bathing suits or their clothes.

Oops, I looked down for a few minutes too long and lost my family. I tracked them down again by the carousel. I sat down on a metal bench with bits of blue rubbery paint peeling off and almost immediately lost sight of them again. From outside, I can barely see them through the dark tinted glass protecting the painted horses from the elements during the day and vandals at night.

A sign on the carousel building says Park Rules Prohibit:

  • Alcoholic Beverages without Permit
  • Other Intoxicants
  • All Terrain Vehicles
  • Camping
  • Entrance to Closed Areas
  • Pets
  • Plant Removal or Destruction
  • Skateboards
  • Swimming
  • Vending without Permit
  • Solicitation without Permit
  • Motorized Vehicles on Trails Except Wheelchairs
  • Bicycles in Plaza Area
  • Roller Blades in Plaza Area

HarperTiger 003The lights and mirrors of the merry-go-round spin inside. There goes an elephant and a lion, horses of course. Was that a llama? A bunny and an ostrich with its name “Oliver” painted on his side. A giant house cat and a tiger forever chasing a giraffe. Even a pig.

That reminds me we have two pork shoulders to prep and season to put on the smoker tomorrow. It’s been months since we’ve slow-cooked any pork and I’m looking forward to it.

Chattanooga, nestled in the crook of the Tennessee River at the foot of Lookout Mountain, is a gem in the South. I hope to move to a home well outside of the city–any city–some day, but have no desire to wander too far from this area I’ve always known as home.