Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Sunday afternoon, September 27. Copenhagen, Denmark

I left an exhausted Nora with Randy to sleep together in the hotel and put Mia in the bike trailer to find Valby Parken. I'd found an article on the web (your first clue this will not go well) that raved about the park's natural playground and the fun sound of the name was making the place bigger in my mind than it probably needed to be.

Mia in the trailer and I huffed and puffed up that beautiful Frederiksberg Alle to the lovely park Frederiksberg Have, once the palace grounds. Mia ran down the steep grassy hills behind Frederiksberg Slot, a yellow stucco palace that she refused to believe was a king's castle - no moat, I suppose fueled her doubt, nor turrets. I ooed and ahed at the ancient alle of perfectly groomed lindens. Once we were at the zoo next door, my map ended and the man I asked said it was a distance.

"A kilometer?" I asked, all Euro.

"More like three or four," he replied.

But the days are long here - dusk doesn't come until eight and Wonder the rental bike still feels great so we head out.

Mia was a trooper with few complaints. Whenever the neighborhood looked a little sad, (we were far from the ye olde tourist district) we would pass a beautiful furniture design store or a cozy pizza sandwich shot or a home with a sweet garden. Industrial suburbs and enormous soccer fields, a few wrong turns, but I was determined to make it. After the second time I asked for directions and had to turn around, I started to think of the Youtube video of the man who runs Ironman triathalons with his son - who has cerebral palsy and must be carried and towed the entire way. That tear-inducing image was hardly helpful; I replaced it quickly with a more cheering memory of carrying Mia on my back in the Tetons when she was nine months old.

We approached the park from the opposite side of the playground, I was steering sort of by instinct, but once we sighted the overgrown hills and child-sized towers, we cheered. The nature playground here was designed by Helle Nebelong, a Danish landscape architect and artist.

Mia ran across a soccer field to reach it while I rode parallel to her down a gravel path lined with narrow trees. Although she was 50 yards away, I could see her laughing, like I was, at our race.

The playground had teepees of reeds and willow, canoes roughly carved out of logs in sand lakes, climbing poles and ladders and rope steps to help you up the steep hills. A tower of light with slots of colored plastic that let in cathedral light and feel inside, an aluminum two-story tower with a slide from the second floor. One tower with a tree growing inside.

I wish I had my bird book that Kristen gave me. Strange black and white birds and the largest dove I've ever seen - it that what a rock dove is?

Squirrels with pointy upturned ears and shaggy brown fur.

We played until nearly dark and the ride home, of course, was much shorter when you know the way to go.

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