Between avenue U and Fillmore, on a small corner of Marine Park's green space is an oak shaded loop-walk for strolling, jogging, cycling or , as was my intention, just whiling away a hot June afternoon. At one corner, a Bocce Ball court (see above) keeps a handful of older men engaged in their game and a little conversation, or maybe a lot of conversation and a little of the game.
In the middle of the loop, bating cages are scattered throughout for future A-Rods and Jeter's to hone their skills, and what park benches were shaded by those grandiose oaks never found themselves alone for too long. Although the hiss of traffic is omnipresent, the space remains quite peaceful, and it's surprisingly easy to find oneself unwinding steadily among the dog walkers and sun worshippers.
After a stroll around the loop, I decided to grab the next available bench and watch the squirrels, who in turn watched the starlings as they also foraged in the grass, both seemingly unaware of the frisbees skimming right above them.
Amongst the joggers, baby strollers, and cellphone huggers, I saw a small disheveled sandy colored dog moving e-v-e-r s-o s-l-o-w-l-y in my general direction, idly sniffing at the base of each oak before moving in a slow, gentle movement that almost looked like a kind of dog- Tai Chi. Directly behind him was his master, an elderly gentleman with glasses, in a white t shirt and wearing a baseball cap.
"Good seat" he said, stopping to look in my direction. "Yup - not bad" I said. " I can feel the breeze on my back." he offered. " Feels good I'll bet". "Oh yeah. I've lived here my whole life, just beyond those trees" he said, pointing. "Oh?". "Born 1931. That's a long time. The mayor back then told my mom not to sell the house - they're going up in value, he said." "He was right". I said.
He pointed in the opposite direction ; "I used to swim over there. We used to swim and fish, and even then, there was a sign saying 'water polluted' " . "Hm" I grinned. "Yup. Take care my friend, C'mon Rusty", and with that, the two old timers shuffled on. I took one more stroll around the loop, stopped and looked at a squirrel for a minute or two, and moved on. I hadn't expected to feel so relaxed in the heart of Brooklyn, but there I was, happy to have stumbled upon an oasis of sorts not realizing that just the next morning I'd find another one......
The Oasis Diner
The Oasis Diner, on Quentin Rd and Flatbush Ave is a family run Greek diner that was calling my name as soon as I saw it one morning with breakfast on my mind. This place hit the spot- the server pointed me to a booth and handed me a coffee and a menu. I took my time perusimg the many options as around me a steady stream of neighborhood faces filed up and down the aisle and filled the room with their familiar exchanges like " Hey George, how's the wife?" and "'zat your car out front ? she's a beauty.."
After I ordered I sat for a while, continuing my people-watching as three guys at the register discussed the Yankee's chances this season. An older woman picking up an order blessed us all as she left, and my plate landed in front of me with a "there y'go, hun. Enjoy." from a waitress who was a blur most of the time.
The cheese omelette was great , the home fries were among the best I've had, and the coffee kept coming. I took my time over breakfast , savoring the atmosphere as much as the food, and as I payed at the register, I mentioned to the young guy taking the check that I'd be back again. With a faint smile he said " Oh good - I'm happy." Me too , I thought.