Sunday, August 28, 2011

Not Exactly Relaxing In the Sun

Saturday was an interesting day.

I had lunch/brunch with the BIL and my beautiful niece at a restaurant called Guadalajara, and then went up to the College of Architecture to meet up with some of my studio-mates. One of the girls from my studio called, and informed a nice - and large - fellow that she was going to visit the sites assigned to us by our professor for our first project. Did we want to join her?

Of course we did! Particularly as the large fellow had no car, and I had no idea where we were supposed to go. She and her friend arrived and we all climbed into her 2-door Honda Civic to head out for Discovery Green in downtown Houston.

We were about 5 blocks from campus when we realized the air-conditioning in her Civic was not working. Down went the windows, and we continued on, growing stickier and smellier by the minute. At some point, I realized I was not wearing sunscreen and did not have a hat, and I resigned myself to getting a mild case of sunburn.

Discovery Green was interesting, to say the least. There was a lawn where a Hispanic radio station was setting up an inflatable screen in preparation for a showing of Spy Kids. There was an amphitheater with a permanent stage built out of cypress (I think) and steel. There were strange boxes covered in glossy colored cubes that led down into parking garages below the surface of the ground.

Then, there were two nearly identical pavilions that sold drinks and food and housed public restrooms. A small pond hosted very small kayaking experiences for tourists. And there was a playground (almost deserted in the 109-degree heat) and a water plaza, with jets of water that arched over its granite surface.

The water plaza was packed.

Most of the water plaza's inhabitants were obviously low-income families, with the parents sitting in folding chairs or on the grass nearby, a few dads supervising their kids, and squealing happy children. Oh! How ecstatic they were to be playing in the water! It was wonderful to watch, and I took a lot of pictures of the kids in the water.

Then, we headed for Bayou Bend Park, thinking it would be easy to find.

It wasn't, yet it was. See, the thing is: Bayou Bend Park is long, following Buffalo Bayou (duh) for a few miles. It's impossible to know where to park your car to get there.

Eventually, we settled on parking near the City of Houston's free public skate park (helmets required). We got a bit bogged down, admittedly, watching the skaters fly over the ramps, swoop up through the half-domes, etc. Once a few of them realized they had an admiring audience, the tricks flew faster and more furiously. Fortunately, we didn't witness any accidents!

Then, we wandered off to look at the rest of the park.

It's kind of creepy.

There are circles of Bald Cypresses arranged at random, with "seats" made of triangles of granite arranged in their midst. I say "seats" because they looked more like altars for slaughtering animals. Most specifically, slaughtering goats while wearing black hooded robes and chanting in Latin.

We came across a steel structure that encircled rectangles of granite for sitting/slaughtering, and had images of eyes overlaid with clear plastic protractors, among other demonic illustrations, fitted between the metal of the trusses. It was about this time that we decided to leave.

It was also about this time that the beagle puppy ran by.

We thought it belonged to the jogger it was chasing, at first, but when we saw him try to shoo it away, we realized otherwise. Then we heard a man calling for his dog, which was obviously not responding.


The upshot was that one of the guys in my group ran after the dog, caught it, and lured it back towards us, where I grabbed its wriggly little wet body and carried it 1/4 mile back to its owner. Apparently, "Hunter" the beagle puppy had gone for a swim in the bayou before he wandered off...

Good deed accomplished, we headed back for the un-air-conditioned Civic, all of us sweating, covered in puppy mud, and tired.

I got home and took a cool shower, fretting over the fact that my skin was blotchy from the heat. Then I lay in bed reading, drinking water, and eating cornichons to help replenish all the salt I'd lost during our treks. Eventually, I got up and put some clothes on so I could go grocery shopping. When I did, I caught sight of myself in the mirror: NO SUNBURN.

year ago, I would have been beet-red all over, looking absolutely terrible and preparing myself mentally for the inevitable peeling and itching to come. This time, there was no such problem. I'd heard that the Paleo Diet decreased the likelihood of burning in the sun, and now I'm a believer.

Maybe I don't have to hide from the sun, anymore! Though it's a good excuse to use for leaving if I ever find myself surrounded by satanic structures in a public park again...

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