Recollections of Pine Banks Park:

This park on the border of Malden and Melrose in Massachussetts is located in a very hilly area. It has a beautiful path that ascends up onto the rocks from whose ledges you can look down not only at the lake below it ut also at the playground behind the lake.

Near the lake, there are tree groves with wooden tables and grills. People reserve them in the summertime when they want to have either a picnic or a barbecue in the park.

The park definitely has a feel of being a nature reserve; you can hardly hear the hum of traffic and the slight buzz noise of whirring by on Main Street is obscured by the chirping of summer time crickets and the rustling of the leaves. Not to mention the ever-cheerful summersaults of squirrels springing from one tree to another. Incidentally, the park has lots of fir trees and a wonderful musty smell emanates from them.

But the best thing about the park is what it no longer has. The park used to have a zoo; I personally remember feeding those goats that smelled like socks that were worn for three days. Feisty creatures they were too. They reached right through the cage bars and licked the leaves right off your hands so that you could feel their moist tongue right on your fingers. That personally scared me; I used to think they would bite me.

But I guess due to budget problems the pets have gone and that's a genuine shame. The thing about feeding animals is that kids can do it for hours without getting bored.

Adults probably won't get excited about having their hands licked by smelly creatures who always show up for bits of food brought to their cage. Now that I think about it, I wonder why those goats were so hungry that they had to eat whatever grass and leaves I brought them, time after time, without ever thinking to themselves "Hey maybe I had my fill." But on the other hand, maybe they weren't showing up for the food after all (is grass even mildly nutritional?) Maybe they were curious about those strange creatures on the other side of the cage who kept bringing them things; maybe they even liked those creatures enough to respond to them time after time.