I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the neighborhoods around my church’s office this week, and have also had some conversations with friends about many of the challenges of living there. Today, I was there with a friend who I tutor to find some more friends to have a soccer game with. And despite the fact that there was a lovely bit of field right there to play on, he said that he did not really feel safe in the neighborhood and wanted to go to Forest Park. On the way there, in his conversation with his friends, I got a deeper sense of the tensions that can exist between African children (who my young friends were) and African-American children, as several of their friends have been beaten up.
And, yet, today, in a neighborhood in which a month ago someone was shot, in which there are drug dealers who operate openly and about whom the police seem to do nothing at all, someone had opened a fire hydrant and created some joy. And, though I am sure that this is illegal, I have always been fascinated by this and have wanted to go join in and, if possible, take some pictures. I did happen to have my camera with me, so I wandered up the street and experienced a fountain of firsts, including: working up the courage to ask folk I don’t know if I might take their pictures (I have done this very little) and then agreeing to the request from some young men that I give the hydrant a go myself. They wanted me to carry me through it, but I assured them that it was better if I just ran. And, so, I entrusted my camera to a young boy nearby, took off my shoes, and gave it a go.
My, it was such an amazing flow of water that felt great beating down on me. I only wish I had an open hydrant for the next 7 days in St. Louis, when the weatherman has promised us temperatures over 95 degrees every single day. It was also a rather ingenious setup, with a tire and a board making an awesome flip bucket which kicked the water all the way across the street. I also hasten to add that pictures in this vein would also be great for you know what. I’m just saying.