Wilson Park of Minnetonka, a small space tucked in between wooded areas and the neighborhood street a short distance from my house. For the last 30 years, I have been taking my morning walk rain or shine cold or hot. In the summer, I stop by the mulberry tree on my way there, taste its fruits (tute), an old childhood favorite. The park brought a few neighbors together, with their kids and dogs, having dog’s conversation, wondering about dogs’ names, breeds, and eating habits. We great each by our dog;s name, Im Woddy’s owner. Kids played tennis, soccer, basketball, and baseball paranetes just walked with their dogs. Sitting on one of the few benches there doing nothing, watching the world goes by, as an Egyptian born, we have mastered the art of sitting. The gray bench was by the tennis court and, through the years, brought people together, families, friends and lovers had their first kiss on it. Kids and dogs took comfort released themselves by it. The gray bench witnessed lots of stories, kept lots of secrets, never complained, and always willing to listen. Since the lockdown and social distancing, Amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Life in the park slowly changed; silence loomed over the ark. People slowly stopped coming, dogs and kids disappeared, no more joyously plays, or random noise, all but vanished. The parking lot has no cars, the playground without kids to play, the tennis court without tennis, and the basketball hoop without swishing hope. The air is fresh but nobody to breathe, Every day, I would walk to the park stop briefly stop by the gray bench, seen it left alone, abandoned and ignored felt unappreciated—a vivid reminder of how the pandemic has shaken our lives to the core. Looking at the gray bench, seemed its tears waiting for a companion. Benches don’t speak but they sure listen !
The spring was breaking in, the sun was out, the gray areas started sprouting their small pods, and the grass got greener. On a cool morning, as I’m taking my morning walk. I glimpsed through the empty park landscape. I briefly stop by the gray bench and I realized something different, something I have not seen for days and weeks. The gray bench by the tennis court seems lively and happy. I slowly approached the gray bench; there, I found something different something I didn’t see before since the pandemic loomed. I saw a small doll sitting on the bench keeping it company. The baby doll was a girl wearing a big blue hat and dressed up as if it was waiting for a date.The enormous hat has covered its blond braided hair and face, the doll was shy and content. Did someone forgot his/her doll, or left it there. The bench joy-filled the landscape. Everyday I wold walk to the park, stop by the gray bench, the doll still there alone and untouched. This time, the head was tilted down a bit, looking down to the bench as they were having a conversation.
One day another doll showed up, sitting on the gray bench next to the young doll girl. It was a monkey doll with a pacifier stuck in its mouth. A few days later, a few dolls started sprouting on other benches in the park, different sizes, fresh looks, and different stories. I pulled my phone, and without thinking, I took one picture of the doll on the gray bench capturing the frozen moment. I have been haunted by the mystery of the doll in the park that is sitting on the gray bench. For the last few weeks, I have been taking a pictorial diary of the doll on the bench. I stand before the gray bench, take the same picture from the same spot, capturing the same image. This is the diary as it was speaking to me by these images of the gray bench. This is the diary of the gray bench in the park when everyone left except a doll.
The first day, April 10, it was a sunny day, crisp spring morning, after being alone and abandoned for a long time, a doll came and resting on me., a young girl, alone, with a colorful dress, and a big blue hat. Not abandoned or forgotten anymore…!!
April 13, a second doll came along a monkey doll with a pacifier, set quietly, have two friends now.
April 14, the two dolls kept there social distancing enforced, ..20 centimeters,
April 16, a gray day, a few sprinkling was coming out of the sky, the park is gloomy that day, the first girl doll tilted its head down, getting tired, needed to be touched. The monkey doll unmoved.
April 18, the girl doll left its head back up and entirely awake. The monkey doll still in its first positions, sucking on the pacifier.
April 23, there was a stick on the girl doll lap, sticking together, I hope.
Days went by, without noticeable changes,
April 24, Friday morning 930a, the dolls attracted a carious dog.,
there was another doll sitting on another bench, then another, and another.
doll_in_the_park, Saturday, April 25, both dolls are holding the stick between them, sticking together!
Sunday, April 26..10a, a gray day nothing changed that much..still sitting quietly..!
Monday, April 27, it was Ramadan, a Ramadan lantern, came to keep the spirit.
April 29. Wednesday 9 am gray, cold morning.
The dolls are sitting bored, perhaps. .a dog walking by, uninterested, but the grass is greener.
April 29. Wednesday at 9 am. .another doll showed up on another benchtop of the hill, the life in the park slowly is coming back