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posted July 15, 2003

The many joys of water in the park

Our wading pool

On the first hot day this season, Sunday June 22, there was water all over the park - not a flood, but a stream of good uses of the water that comes to us from Lake Ontario. In the sandpit by the playground, the hose was connected to the tap we bought from Lee Valley Tools. All day, between 10 and 30 kids (and some of their parents) were making channels for a river system - with lots of bridges -that wound through the sandpit and out into further "rivers" leading south. A sprinkler was set up in the wading pool (which was not yet open), and kids were not only running through the sprinkler but also finding out all the ways in which a hose could be kinked to change the water flow and trick people. Up by the pizza oven there was another sprinkler. Kids ran through that one too, and so did the performers from Clay and Paper Theatre when they'd finished their parade through Councillor Silva's annual Summerfest flea market. To the north of the rink house, the Eagles soccer club was running a car wash. They sudsed tow trucks as well as the cars they flagged down at the Dufferin mall light, and at the end they also sudsed each other.

A hose led to the new cherry trees, which need a lot of water when they're just getting established, and another hose snaked in and out of Arie Kemp's poppy garden beside the hockey rink. Arie no longer looks after the park gardens but his legacy is evident all over - as the "seed man" he collected the most beautiful seeds he could find all over the city and sowed them in our park, and by now every crack in the concrete and every flowerbed has his flowers re-seeding themselves. Those flowers get thirsty, so we water them.

From 10 until 3, Councillor Silva and his assistants filled up their big coolers at the sink in our half-finished park kitchen and hauled them back to the Summerfest table for free drinks made with orange powder. Later, when it was time to wash the dishes from the pizza oven, the cooks sprayed one another with our new kitchen sprayer - it has very strong spray that is excellent for cleaning dishes and for park staff waterfights. The waterfight theme was repeated at most of the birthday parties and barbecues happening throughout the park. One of the parties was partly on stilts, because many of the guests - as well as the host - were stiltwalkers. They danced on stilts, leaned up against the high branches of trees, and the host had an orange and a green water pistol with which he was allowed to squirt anyone he chose, on stilts or on the ground.

At the end of the afternoon the kids at the playground disconnected the sprinkler from the hose and tried to use the hose to fill the pool. There was so much silt left over from the winter that the drains plugged and the pool really did begin to fill - with dark brown opaque mud-water. Kids splashed in this mukky soup and then used their plastic shovels to unplug the drains - with help from some grownups - so that there would be no standing water during the night.

Eventually, everyone went home. All that was left by way of sound late at night was the sprinkler, swishing water back and forth between the roses and the potato plants in the adjoining park flower and vegetable gardens. What a great thing, a park in a city beside a huge lake full of water to draw on, on a hot day.

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