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My Little Buddy, Johnny - Part 2

Continuing our play time at Desert Breeze Park, Johnny has a favorite playground item to which he is clinging as if to save his life. It is a platform upon which the child sits and which has an offset axis that spirals the rider up and down as they go around. He likes for me to give him a push, one way then the other until he goes all the way around — again and again.

This is a different view of that same item with Johnny giving it a push. Most of the kids are not strong enough to push each other but they have great fun trying.

Nearby I spotted a beautiful specimen of a Mexican Bird of Paradise. They are everywhere in Phoenix, one of the most common landscaping plants. Funny though — when I first moved to Phoenix, I spotted this plant which was unknown to me at the time. I asked numerous friends and co-workers if they knew the name but no one knew. Eventually I learned its name but continued to be surprised that it was not widely known, at least among the folks at HP.

The friend that Johnny met earlier had departed and my little buddy sat for a few moments contemplating his options.

Eventually, he decided on the tire swing — with me giving him a push and a spin and another push and another spin...

Nearby are the railroad tracks for the miniature train that runs through the park most of the year — unfortunately not during July and August. I was surprised when I first discovered that this park that it had a railroad — earlier I had encounted the Stillman-McCormick Railway Park in Scottsdale (which was featured in the previous LAHP about my little buddy). Surprised to find two parks in the area with trains, I just did a bit of research and there appears to be seven parks with trains in the Valley of the Sun — hard to believe but great destinations for future outings!

Tired of the swing? What to do next?

We can certainly walk along the lake where there are signs posted about fishing — the lake is stocked with fish and kids do not need a license for catching some of them. We decided that was something Johnny might do with his dad when the weather cools down.

As we strolled, we spotted this creature which appears to be some type of fish-eating bird. Thanks to a reader, we have identified it as a Double-Crested Cormorant. Although we did not see it fishing, it will dive from the surface to depths of 25 feet, holding its breath for 70 seconds. There is a small colony at the Riparian Preserve in nearby Gilbert, another item for my bucket list.

Well, time to move on — so on go the sunglasses and my little buddy is transformed into Johnny Cool.

One last stop before going home — what better way to chill after a hot day at the park but with a visit to Dairy Queen. Of course, some of us barely noticed the ice cream because of the distraction of the latest video game.

Post-Script: Since these were the waning days of summer vacation, the time came to complete the homework assignment that the kindergarten teacher gave Johnny just before school let out in May. He is not a fan of homework — not many of us were at that age — but he eventually began to get into it when we got to this page, "Poetry".

Johnny began by drawing musical notes to comply with the assignment "make music with your words". He then drew a series of bananas (the horizontal nested, crescent-moon shapes) topped with mounds of whipped cream and finished with a cherry. This is a new dessert invented by Johnny although in real life, he usually slices the banana. The small stick figure is the person who is going to eat this huge dessert.

In case you have difficulty reading his printing, it reads:

Giant banana.
Giant whipped cream.
Little cherry.
Little guy.

I was really quite impressed with his effort — it is very poetic for a six-year old. His former kindergarten teacher was equally impressed. Way to go little buddy!


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com