Creepy Playgrounds

The London Daily Mail has an interesting article about creepy sculptures that appear to haunt some of the playgrounds built during the Soviet era in Russia.  There’s no doubt that there is a profoundly disturbing, nightmarish quality about some of the figures that could haunt little kids and cause them to avoid the playgrounds altogether.

7055939An evil, grinning chimp with fangs?  A crying woman in a blue dress?  A goateed, wide-eyed doctor in a lab coat ready to plunge some unknown instrument into your skull?  A hollow-eyed, distraught boy kneeling on the ground?  A bizarre fight between an emaciated bull and a reptilian creature?  Who came with this stuff, the psychological warfare section of the KGB?

But maybe we’re being too hard on the Soviets.  Let’s face it, American playgrounds aren’t exactly free from disturbing stuff, either.  Any playground that has a jungle gym, an old-fashioned merry-go-ground, and “monkey bars” is bound to present its share of childhood horror.  And the decorations at some playgrounds are unsettling, too.  We used to live a block away from a park we called “Yogi Bear Park” because it had a teeter-totter where the fulcrum was a covered by a cheap plastic depiction of the head of Yogi Bear.  The adults recognized the figure as Smarter than the Average Bear, but to little kids it was an unknown, apparently grimacing figure wearing a bad hat and a tie.  What the parents saw as Yogi, the kids perceived as a weird, lurking presence.  Not surprisingly, the tykes tended to steer clear of old Yogi.

For that matter, childhood is filled with intentionally scary stuff that suggests that adults get a kick out of frightening youngsters.  “Fairy tales” aren’t happy stories about fairies, but horror shows of child-eating witches, child-eating wolves, and other evil creatures ready to devour any wayward kid.  Hey, kids!  How about a bedtime story?

We apparently delight in terrifying children.  The Russian playgrounds just bring it out into the open.

Lamb, Or Lion?

It’s March — the most unpredictable weather month of the year.

IMG_3200We’re all familiar with the old saying about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, or vice versa.  But, which is it?  Sometimes the answer is not so clear.

Last night we had a discussion about whether, in central Ohio, March was coming in like a lion or a lamb.  The temperature was at freezing levels, with snowflakes blowing down.  I took the position that March had come in like a lion.  The alternative view was that 32 degrees and a little snow wasn’t that bad, and that you could only invoke the lion if the weather was abysmal — temperatures in the teens, raging blizzards, and so forth.  That seems like an awfully high leonine standard to me.  It’s just a lion, after all, not Godzilla or Darth Vader.

So, I’m going with the lion.  If March had come in like a lamb, it seems to me, there’d be kids on the seats of the teeter-totter at the neighborhood playground, not swirling snowflakes.

Rubber Tire Recycling

As I’ve mentioned before, I am all in favor of increased recycling and minimized use of landfill space.  I zealously recycle cans, bottles, plastic, and paper items.

So, I was happy to see that our neighborhood playground has done its part by using shredded rubber tires to spread under the swings, teeter-totter, and slide.  I discovered the recent addition when I walked past with the dogs, and noticed a distinctly springy feel underfoot.

The black shards of shredded tire look good on the playground — like high-end mulch, but without the odor — and I have to believe that the rubbery surface is much safer than cement or asphalt (the preferred surface in the death trap playgrounds of my childhood) or wood chips, which was the immediately preceding surface.  The rubber shards are an inch or two deep, and when you walk across them you feel like any kid toppling off the teeter-totter and falling onto the springy surface would be likely to bound three feet in the air.

Well done, New Albany!