In Market: A walk with Bigfoot and the fairies

Photo by Robert Francis

It was a beautiful day for a walk, Sunday, May 24. I took the dog for his required morning walk, but he’s only good for a mile at a time. The day was simply too glorious to pass up. Since the lockdown the air has simply been toxin-free and the night skies have exploded with stars. It’s never been better to be outside.

Did I see a firefly the other night? I swear I did. It’s like the Fort Worth of my youth has returned. I may get an old mayonnaise jar, punch some air holes in the top with an ice pick and catch a few.

Diorama in Overton Park Photo by Robert Francis

I wasn’t going to miss this day.  They are too few and far between in Fort Worth. August, with its stifling, unremitting heat, with come no matter how clean the air.

As we re-open, with more cars on the road, we might not have the chance for the air quality we have now. Breathe in the beauty. It’s unlikely to last.

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So, I headed – well, snuck out past the dog if you want to know the truth – to the nearby Overton Park. It was my first walk out of the neighborhood since the lockdown. Would it be crowded? Should I wear a mask? Had the world changed so much since my last walk in the park just a few months earlier?

Yes. It has changed a lot.

I parked my car and immediately noticed some banners in the trees where I park. I didn’t think anything of it. Lots of times I’ve seen Happy Birthday signs or – at this time of the year anyway – graduation signs – at that corner. Then, when I got out of my car, I noticed a small diorama, almost like a dolls house in a cardboard box. It had been somewhat battered by the rain from the night before, but no matter. It was kind of cool to see what creative impulses the lockdown had brought forth. Little did I know.

As I walked a littler farther, I saw a sign attached to a tree. I didn’t recall a sign there before. I thought perhaps it was a warning to keep a socially distant space between visitors. I might need that for work, so I got out my camera phone and prepared to take a photo. I did take a photo, but it had noting to do with any pandemic. “WARNING,” the sign said in all red caps. “BIGFOOT AREA: Stay on marked trails.” Apparently, as we humans have abandoned Overton Park during the pandemic, Bigfoot has moved in, though he apparently doesn’t use the trails. Good to know.

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Diorama in Overton Park Photo by Robert Francis

I then came to the bridge that goes over the creek in the park. I’ve always loved the bridge. It reminds me of the bridges they used to have at Six Flags.

A dog I once had, Seamus, a fearless Jack Russell, refused to cross the bridge. Maybe in some past life he had an encounter with a bridge troll. I don’t know, but he wouldn’t cross the thing. Jack Russells are stubborn and can be immovable  in case you don’t know. I either had to pick him up or walk down to the corner and cross using another path. There was nothing scary on the bridge this time, but people were stopped on the other side looking down at more objects next to the trees.

It was more of the dioramas. Some were more elaborate and detailed than the other one I had seen. There were several, as you can see from the photos I took.

As I walked along, I saw more, some more damaged by the recent rainstorm than others. Then, as I approached another section of path, there were large signs and several rocks stacked by trees. There were several children standing by the trees and writing on the rocks.

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Positivity Path Photo by Robert Francis

The signs said the area was Positivity Park, another sign called it Prayer Patch; another Gratitude Grove. Whatever you call it, it was another adventure available on this short walk.

Positivity Path photo by Robert Francis

There was a plastic bin with rocks in it and pens and markers to decorate the rocks. The rocks were then piled up by the trees.  There were a variety of thoughts on the rocks from “Love my mama,” to “Thank you nurses,” to hearts drawn around the name “Cline.” There’s always a Cline somewhere. Good luck Cline.

It reminded me a bit of the time I went to El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, an old, old Catholic settlement with an ancient church that draws pilgrims seeking …. something – healing, redemption, absolution, a miracle, you name it. I was one of those pilgrims after a bitter (is there any other kind?) divorce and being at that spot in Overton Park reminded me of what I’d written on some piece of paper you posted on a wall at Chimayo. I wrote “never forget to keep loving life,” something profound like that. I meant it then and mean it now, but that few moments in front of that Positivity Park reminded me of that. We all need reminding of profound thoughts like that sometime.

Positivity Path photo by Robert Francis

I was nearing the end of my journey and I passed the banners I had seen earlier. As I got closer, I noticed more of the dioramas under the banners. Then, there was another sign. This one said Fairy Forrest with an invitation to create your own vision of the fairy world and leave them in the park. Apparently, someone had started building the dioramas and then challenged others to bring some more. And they had.

Fairy Forrest sign Photo by Robert Francis

That was my short mile walk. A walk I had taken many, many times before. I kind of felt like I had ripped back some temporal curtain. Maybe all those things had been there before, and I simply didn’t perceive them.

We walk around all our lives looking for signs and in one short mile, I had seen several. Maybe, like Robert Frost, this time I walked down the road not taken, where Bigfoot and the fairies built a little Positivity Park where we mere mortals can discard our troubles for a little while and make peace with ourselves and others. Or tell the world how awesome Cline is.

The sign about the Fairy Forrest asked visitors to “Please add your own Magic!” And people did.  

I just hoped that Bigfoot and the fairies don’t engage in some battle for Overton Park. If they do, I hope I’m there to see it. I’m rooting for them both. If we end up after this pandemic in a world full of Bigfoot and fairies, it will have been the best outcome possible. We need them.