We sometimes feel like 8 of our last 11 years have been spent hanging out on various playgrounds. There’s the park near our house in Duluth that we call “Our Playground.” There are Chester Park, Lester Park, Bayfront (“Castle Playground”), not to mention all the playgrounds scattered around the city at all the schools. When we’ve done road trips in the States, we’ve always made a point of seeking out the local play spaces and making sure we take the chance to stretch our legs and get a feel for the locale.
Then the kids started to grow up. And playgrounds became less of a “thing.” Sure, they still like the idea of a playground, and they often get into the groove when they visit one, but more often than not, their playground energy is more rooted in recent memories than in current interests.
Thus, it didn’t seem too devastating when we got to Cappadocia and realized that good playgrounds are hard to find. Yes, there are spaces set aside for swings, monkey bars, and teeter-totters. More often than not, though, the equipment is broken or missing pieces. Fortunately, Turkey has a plethora of exercise areas–places intended for the public at large to use and improve their health. For our kids, the exercise areas have proven to be just the novelty and bump up in physical challenge that their ages require. They adore the exercise playgrounds.
In Ortahisar, however, such spaces aren’t an option, for there are only a few junky, traditional playgrounds that offer up as many opportunities to get tetanus as they do good times. Much to our surprise, the kids have decided one of these playgrounds–The Chicken Playground–is their favorite outdoor spot in the village. Do they love the flock of chickens wandering around it, depositing scat and trailing feathers? Do they enjoy the nutty village grandmas who sit out on the street, watching and cackling? Do they like that there are only three pieces of equipment, and one of them is unusable?
I dunno. But they love that place.
When I look at pictures of them at The Chicken Playground, I think I get it. The pictures remind me that, no matter its seeming limitations, it’s definitely a special place in the world.