This is why we go to the country – to avoid the desert that is Stockholm in the summer. Last summer, on paternity leave with a two-year-old, we roamed playground to playground hunting for kids, any kids. Just to hear the sound of voices and not the creaking of a long-unused swing.
So we joined the exodus to the forest. We came back to town for a few days, and NK needed to play. She missed the slides and the swings. So I took her to one of our regular spots – a daycare that is quite popular on weekends and holidays with regular folk.
It looked as if no one had played there in decades, a sight common in many less-trafficked American playgrounds but not here in stroller-choked Stockholm. The grass was high and the flowers choked with weeds. The sandbox was caked over by rain, a lone toy truck half-buried like something out of Planet of the Apes.
NK ran over to climb a ladder, and then I saw it, the dead bird. Well, the bones of a dead bird. In the middle of the playground, the bird had been dead long enough for only the bones and a few feathers to remain.
I felt alone.
Then NK and I made sand cakes and played in the little log house. And I felt better.