Green Play

(HALIFAX – Memory Lane) – I don’t remember a great deal about the morning commutes. Perhaps the single parent, pre-schooler, bustle and hustle, getting up and dressed then breakfasted followed by the out the door skedaddle to catch the bus wasn’t wholly conducive to nurturing deep-rooted memories.

The afternoon pick up at daycare was different though. It was good to be reunited at the unwhirling end of the day. Time seemed more expansive, leisurely, almost langurous as my daughter and I made our way hand in hand to the bus stop.

We were regulars on our route, transit riders by necessity. Other than a short-lived, hand-me-down ’66 Beaumont Acadian I received as a gift at 17, cars were not part of my reality. Articulated buses were in high rotation on this route. Whenever one pulled up to the curb, we couldn’t wait to get on. We’re talking a mobile affordance par excellence.

Accordion streetcar – Edinburgh, Scotland

Midway down the bus was the pleated accordion section. There were no seats here. On the floor was a large circular steel plate. We positioned ourselves just inside the perimeter. As the bus swung through a 90 degree corner with the circle rotating, the accordion expanded on one side as it contracted on the other.

We loved to ride that circle. Sometimes we managed to keep our balance standing up through two full quadrants. If the bus was moving too fast we held on tight to the shiny vertical poles reflecting stretch versions of ourselves. On straightaways the accordion section’s suppleness made for big, almost bowl us over bumps. It was the cheapest theme park ride in town and one that never seemed to get old.

On days that the force wasn’t with us and we were relegated to an accordion-less bus ride we’d go into Plan B mode. Scrinched up in the seat next to the door where people entered to pay their fares, we would settle in for storytime. We had favourites including The Paper Bag Princess, The Wheels on the Bus, Badger’s Parting Gifts and The Giving Tree.

In public view we created a space that was both private and shared. Some of our fellow passengers we knew by sight. Those who were attuned to our ritual seemed as appreciative of the stories as we were. The analog readings required no external energy source unlike today’s portable devices.

Many, many years after those daily commutes home, I thought of our  adventurous, mildly risky rides and wrote round and round. They were fine moments of bonding, laughter and the occasional tumble. We were creators of public transit fueled unintentional green play.

round and round

got a gentle squeeze
on the accordion bus
pumped up and down
memory lane

in one bending corner
shrinking and stretching
in one breath of moment
i was laughing right next to you

you danced the floating circle
small fingers extended
my paper bag princess
taming a bucking urban dragon

got a gentle squeeze
on the accordion bus
a little girl you were
in one breath of be

I love the gentle squeeze of memory. After more than 25 years, it is probable this particular rear view mirror has a rosy rose tinge to it. To this day, I still get a lift when I’m riding the accordion bus’ spinning circle.


4 responses to “Green Play

  1. Nice story. Enjoyed reading. I hope Ole Smiley is still standing strong..


    • Tim, great to hear from you. How go the restoration projects? I’ve been moving at a snail like pace getting back to you. How about we get together for an old fashioned phone chat some day. It would be fun to feature your passion for old playground equipment on the blog. Cheers, Alex


  2. I don’t always have time to read your emails but as I’m purging old mail today I decided to stop and read this before deleting it. It is such a charming little story of your streetcar rides home. I was doing a memoir class for 3 years or so but two covid years have derailed me and haven’t been writing anything for a while. Your little essay reminds me of the possibilities for creating beautiful writing out of the smallest special moments. So I wont delete it after all. It could be the inspiration I need to pick my pen up again. Thank you.


    • Hi Carolyn, thanks so much for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece and I hope it won’t be long before you pick up the pen again. Over this past year I have had some difficulty with writing too. I have had quite long periods when nothing seems to gel. It means so much to read comments like yours knowing that the words and stories are appreciated and hitting the mark at least some of the time. All the best with your writing projects. Cheers from Nova Scotia.


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