2013-08-29 – Rogers Park is a sports park. Indian Boundary Park is a strolling park, with paths and a little pond. But Rogers Park is a sports park.
The east half of the park has six baseball and softball diamonds arranged like pips on a domino. There’s space for three or more full-sized soccer or football fields in between. The fields are marked off by season. The perimeter is lined by trees but the fields are necessarily open.
The south end of the park is known as the soccer bowl. Though flat enough to play soccer, it is slightly lower than the surroundings. They say that many years ago they would flood this area during the winter to make a skating rink, but they haven’t done that in the 18-plus years we’ve leaved here.
The center and west part of the park is loosely wooded. Among the trees are four tennis courts and a kids playlot with swings and slides and a sandbox and benches. Scattered through the park are circles of blacktop with basketball hoops in the middle.
Early mornings, especially on weekends, are the old men’s hours. Old men come into the park to do their exercises or do a slow jog. Next come the dog walkers who take over the playlot at the early hour to let their dogs run off leash. They used to do this in the tennis courts until signs appeared at the gates forbidding them to do so.
(When the signs appeared, I wrote the Alderman to complain. I didn’t see the sense of new ordinances to permit dogs into stores and banks and restaurants while forbidding dogs from city parks. I didn’t get a response.)
Noontime to dark come the sports teams, always serious but always festive. And the picnickers and the volleyball players. Dog walkers end the evening. Then come the animals. Bunnies and squirrels, of course. But also skunks and raccoons and once a deer. Yesterday morning I saw two coyotes. This morning at first light, I saw the constellation Orion the Hunter in the sky along with the Dog Star Sirius.
The park is a meeting place for a diverse population. African Americans favor the football teams. Latinos and Orthodox Jews come for the children’s soccer league and play with Pakistanis and Indians and Jamaicans. Young professionals and their families come for softball. The local Catholic school arrives early one morning in a parade, car horns blaring, for the annual homecoming game.
In spring the grass is coated with white fluff from the cottonwood trees. In winter drifts of snow.
I walk through the park at least once a day on my way to work, but often several times more.