Throughout the years I have picnicked in numerous parks in New York City. None of them can match the sumptuousness of Kissena Park in Flushing, Queens, which is compiled of pieces of former tree nurseries that existed on the space in the latter half of the 1800s. It is true that many city parks have lofty trees and scampering wildlife, and others may have grander lakes or even a circus-like array of performances scattered amongst its florae, but the simple sounds of giggling children or the quaintness of seeing a small group of elderly men gathered on a sunny afternoon playing bocce ball are some of the elements which draws me back to the ageless wonderland. Last fall, I treated myself to a picnic in the 103 year-old park on its soft bed of grass tucked neatly under the watchful eyes of its antediluvian trees.
It was an early Saturday afternoon, and the forest-green wooden sign which simply stated “Kissena Park” greeted me like a warm mother’s smile. Passing along the eye-level fortress of jet-black iron that protected this majestic jewel of nature, I reached the red-brick entrance and began strolling along the sun-faded ashen-grey path. Innocent giggles and high-pitch chatter came from the children as they scuttled about on the jungle-gym or rode through the air on hard-board swings. The whizzing of bicycle wheels rushed past me as I made my way further into my personal ‘land of Oz.'
I made my way up a small hill to a shaded spot overlooking the regal blue-green lake. The cool suppleness of the grass was welcoming as I sat down. Some dried brownish leaves crunched under my weight. The breeze hissed through the dying autumn leaves overhead with their iridescent hues of oranges, reds and yellows, some of which would lose their grip and come dancing through the air until they landed softly on the green grass below. Off in the nearby distance I watched some children riding around on a slope in their red, black and blue peddle-cars. The plastic tires scratched along the rough pavement as they drove. On my other side a happy bride in a trailing, sinuous, sleeveless white wedding gown paraded along the green carpet accompanied by three young men in slim, black tuxedos and two bridesmaids in long, spaghetti-strap, royal blue gowns whom held radiant yellow bouquets.
I glanced up at the cotton-white puffs of clouds drifting aimlessly in a sea of rich blue. I began my picnic with the sweet suppleness of my tuna sandwich and the robust bitterness of a warm cup of coffee. My wound-up nerves had begun to relax to the euphonious chirping of birds sitting in the lengthy, lean branches overhead.
Being an amateur historian of Queens, my mind often wonders to what the past would have been like. Sipping my coffee, I tried to imagine what the first Flushing Carnival would have been like, which was held in Kissena Park on June 6, 1906. Fun events like this never happened during my life time. I would prefer to experience them instead of reading about them.
When I was finished eating, I headed off to explore more of the familiar hide-away. The sparse amount of geese and ducks flaunter around their enormous bath which as the lake. Fluttering their wings as they posed on rocks or picked through their feathers with graceful poise. Children stopped with their parents to glare in amazement at the show, reacting with cooing or emulating the honking and quacking.
The sunlight dancing across the ripples as the calm chilled autumn breeze sweeps by. I headed up another dark paved path and passed a large grey boulder with neatly engraved words. Next to it was another forest-green wooden sign like at the entrance, which gave a description of what the massive rock was, which turned out to be a memorial knoll originally dedicated in the early twenties to the lives lost in World War I. Continuing on, the brittle brown leaves crunched with each step I took as I headed farther up the sun-light sprinkled path to come to my favorite patch. A sea of rustling plants of greens and off-whites seem to extend infinitely into the distance surrounded by towering richly green trees like parents watching over their slumbering young.
With my mind and body now tranquil, I found it hard to once again have to leave. As I headed back towards the red-brick entrance with its iron fencing, I took in one last view of the lake and trees. I felt the sun kiss my face with its warm tenderness and the breeze wrap its arms around me as if to say, “Don’t be sad. You can come back anytime to visit us.” I smiled, counting down to when I would return to picnic in paradises’ garden once more.