Piles of Fun in Grover Cleveland Park
In the fall, park has much to offer outside the playground.
My kids go absolutely insane if they don't get out of the house every day. One of my daughters consistently asks to go to Target, but a daily trip there would soon bankrupt us. Mall play areas are free, but little germ factories. Grocery shopping isn't fun for anyone. When we need something that's fun and free, we head outside.
I am not an outdoorsy person, unless it involves lounging by a pool or sitting on the beach. I don't even own a pair of sneakers. But having children forces you to not only be outdoors, but actually dread the days you're stuck inside. If the weather is anywhere between freezing and sweltering, and it's not raining, sleeting or snowing, we can probably be found at Grover Cleveland Park.
We live within walking distance of Memorial Park, which is almost always empty and has a cute little playground, but that small stream running alongside is far too tempting to my water-loving children who have been carried home soaking wet and screaming on more than one occasion.
For us, Grover Cleveland is the perfect park. It's beautiful, safe, clean, rarely overcrowded and always filled with friendly dogs for my kids to pet. I could write endlessly about the playground, but at this time of year we rarely even make it to the swings or monkey bars. There are too many other attractions in the park in the fall.
The pond is a favorite spot. Right now the water is clearer than it was all spring and summer, and you can see the fish swimming below the surface. From the turtles sunning themselves on the rocks around the edge to the huge geese and family of ducks, it's all endlessly fascinating to my kids. The girls loved feeding the birds until the park's groundskeeper told us, very nicely, that we really shouldn't. Evidently a diet of nothing but white bread isn't good for geese either.
Walk past the pond and in the open meadow behind the field house is where the fun really begins. Recently, the field has been filled with dragonflies, flitting about in the sunshine, playing a game of chase that my kids can't wait to join in on.
There are thousands of acorns that are treasures to a three-year-old. Pinecones are hunted for and collected by the armful. The huge trees are perfect for hide-and-seek and provide a place to sit and count their acorns and attempt (unsuccessfully, fortunately) to climb.
The leaves are, of course, the ultimate attraction. Rolling in them, throwing them in the air, and trying to find the most perfect one to give to mom. Hours could be spent in the leaf piles.
My rational mind knows the piles are probably full of who knows what, but my heart loves to see the pure joy on the faces of my girls as they jump right in, giggling and screeching with happiness.
Soon the leaves will be gone, the ground will be covered with snow, and we'll be relegated back to the crowded, germy play area at the mall. So for now, we treasure every acorn, every leaf pile and every moment in the park.
I have learned to appreciate nature, and being outside with my kids. But I'm still not buying sneakers.