Confronting a staggering mound of boring paperwork in need of sorting and filing, I fled the drudgery and didn’t slow until I reached Oak Canyon Community Park in Oak Park.
The day’s sweltering heat was instantly ameliorated by the breeze-blessed shade offered by each and every tree planted on the park’s huge, undulating lawn. To be sure, I felt guilty about being a ne’er-do-well rather than a Filer of Boring Papers, but only for about 30 seconds.
I sprawled on the lawn and felt the breeze lap at every inch of my overheated skin. As I began to ponder whether other folks impetuously seek out similar pockets of sweet, natural surroundings as a temporary refuge, a group of young women showed up. The half-dozen of them were toting long rolls of what appeared to be colorful fabric.
They eyed an evenly spaced quartet of tall, slender poplars with keen interest. One by one each pair of the six lowered to the ground their burden of colorful rolled fabric then got busy securing black straps to the tree trunks. In a few minutes, they’d erected three hammocks.
“BYOS—Bring Your Own Seating.” It must be a new fad, a new way to cradle yourself and block out the hectic world. At Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks there’s even an area set aside for hammock-hungering students, who are invited to BYOS. Barring that, they can rent their own hammock.
It was a beautiful thing to witness the hammock girls of Oak Canyon Community Park. Each hammock was multi-colored, blending the turquoise blue of a tropical sea with snowy white or sunshine yellow edging. Wedged two apiece per hammock, the girls chatted merrily as their long, bobbing ponytails and sneaker-clad feet dangled over the edges.
For months I’d been studying maps and travel books, getting nowhere on the inspiration scale, and here at a local park was all the impetus I required for a happy, carefree outing: “CYOF: Create Your Own Fun.”
But you don’t necessarily need a hammock. A few days later I was strolling Westlake Village’s First Neighborhood greenbelts when I encountered more folks getting creative about local outdoor space. A couple and their three toddlers were setting out a picnic on a patchwork quilt unfurled on the lush grass. Each child had his or her own place setting: princess, unicorn, dragon.
The car was left in the garage. Phones were turned off. Kids went barefoot on damp grass blades, gulping in fresh air, staring wide-eyed at the pink, red, purple or white crowns of crape myrtle trees that decorate Westlake Village every August.
The greenbelt’s weeping willow cast dappled sunlight on the picnickers’ colorful regalia. The scene was so charming, so pastoral, it seemed as if it belonged to another century, as painted by Mary Cassatt.
What did Louis Armstrong sing? Ah, yes: “What a Wonderful World.” And it’s right here, Satchmo, local and lovely.
Glasser is a freelance writer and nature enthusiast. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.