“Where shall we go this afternoon”, said Stephanie, adding quickly, “don’t forget its pizza tonight”. “How about Parque Lezama?” “What a good idea” I rejoin, thinking already of pizza and chilled Lopez.
And so it is to Parque Lezama that we walk, taking the scenic route via Balcarce, Cafe Pride and Cafe Rivas.
An undisclosed, but significant sum of pesos has been invested in Parque Lezama since 2015, turning a tired provincial park into a wonderful work of horticultural art. Sculptures were removed and replaced in polished condition. The children’s play area was relocated from the centre of the park to a convenient (and discrete) lower level. Huge palms were copiced, and have regenerated with succulent growth and a fresh crop of fruit to feed the resident parakeets. Altogether, magnificent.
Today is the day to visit a park. It is 24 degrees, with a light breeze. Overhead there is not a cloud to clutter a 210 degree azure sky, halfway between blue and cyan. The sun shines.
We enter by the amphitheater at Av Brazil on the north side. A lone workman scrubs graffiti from the wall. Perhaps this is his ‘community service’? We mount the steps leading into the main park. To our left the ancients sit at stone tables to play chess and draughts. Ahead white poodles are walked by their owners beneath trees crowned with candy coloured blossom.
We follow an anti clockwise route on the new brick paving, taking in the restored balustrades and enjoying open views. Small plaques to our left indicate the species of tree; ahead - a colonnade set with new benches. Riding slowly on their black bicycles, two policemen pass-by, nodding with appreciation as we give way to their progress.
Stephanie and I select a bench that still enjoys the afternoon sun, to watch park life. To our right a tai chi figure unfurls a cerise banner, two lovers pass pausing for a long kiss, at one side a group of college students sit together with books spread out on the grass beneath the canopy of a tree. Here is the hum of humanity, gentle, almost gentile. In the distance, the bark of a lone dog, and the sound of a car horn. Then a sudden breath of a breeze lifts Stephanie’s hair and ruffles my collar. This solitary wind is different from others - it signals an altered energy on which the pea-green parakeets have taken flight.
After a while we rise to continue our walk in the park. Just around the corner we see the same two black bicycles stood together on their stands joined by a checkered tape. Two dark figures bend over a pile of clothing on a sunlit bench. One of them reaches down to lift an arm. From the end of the bench dangle two legs with feet clad in old boots. A policeman, with remarkable sensitivity, removes a watch from the wrist, and places it in a tiny pile with other possessions. A blanket covers all but a shock of grey hair. There is no sound; no movement; nor has there been since its discovery. The ‘solitary wind’ now makes sense. That stillness spoke of a moment passing.
Now, children dressed like miniature shopkeepers in long white coats return from school in small groups or with admiring parents. The park springs back into life as the volume switch turns. Contemplative, we walk, hand in hand, regarding our lives with a fresh value.
“When I die, I want it to be like that”, I say, “On a park bench here in Parque Lezama, in the sunshine, my spirit borne by a flight of green parakeets”, I add. Stephanie smiles. “We will see what we can do”, she says quietly, with a twinkle in her eye.