What Lies Behind Mandarin

As my official day off from both jobs, I decided to make this Sunday a special one. Grabbing both my DSLR camera and a film camera, I jumped into the car and drove to a hidden park away from the busyness of San Jose.

The wind chill factor was strong as the wind blew through the various trees that surrounded the aging houses and cabins. Signs in random places dictated facts about the St. Johns river to passerby’s while brightly painted frog statues stared idly at anyone who dared to engage.

My shoes splashed into the many puddles formed from last night’s thunderstorm as I ventured through the historic park. Several times I stopped for a spur-of-the-moment photo shoot or myself, other times I snapped a photo with the film camera. With each click of the shutter, my inner creative soul beamed with happiness at capturing something amazing.

With an hour spent and photos gathered successfully, I departed further down the hidden road. Beautiful, towering McMansions decorated both sides of the road and some even had large gates sealing away a long driveway to what laid beyond. I imagined living in one of the houses after stopping in a cul-de-sac. So many rooms and tons of yard space for running and stargazing. But a very lonely existence for just one person.

Eventually, I stumbled onto Mandarin Park, a small park hidden away from the main road with only two signs depicting its location. Excited at discovering something hidden, I pulled over and headed straight for the docks with my film camera in tow.

An elderly lady with her dog was entertaining the park visitors while an elderly man occupied himself with feeding bread pieces to the many seagulls swooping by. I fed the dog a spare treat and listened as the lady shared her tale of moving from New York City to Florida. She even compared me to one of her children when I mentioned that this was my only day off from the two jobs I worked. I slightly laughed at the compliment.

I thanked her for sharing and gave the dog a pat on her back before leaving to sit somewhere quiet. I secretly marveled at how soft the dachshund’s fur was. Even softer than my parents’ dog.

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