Just when I thought I had experienced Savannah from every angle, along comes tour guide Ava Kreutzer to show me just how much delight and adventure are in plain sight all over the city.
Professionally led tours in The Hostess City range from the Foodie Tour to the Ghost Tour to the Fun Tour. Ava, my niece, has no tour guide license, but from her vantage point of 3' 4" in height and her four-year-old's life experience, there might be a great business opportunity here. Call it "The Wow Tour." Available anywhere, anytime.
A two blocks Wow Tour in Parkside Neighborhood can take an hour to navigate, what with so many wondrous sights along the route.
In hundreds of neighborhood walks on my own, I've never seen so many surprises. A green and yellow marble with an opalescent shine, a red leaf, and once, a nickel. With Ava's close-to-the-ground perspective, these points of interest loom large and magnificent.
Two Saturdays ago, Ava and I took the Wow Tour downtown for an hour or so in Forsyth Park.
The cold afternoon wind nudged us out from under the shaded central sidewalk into the sunshine on the west playing fields, as we headed from Park Avenue toward the playground in the center of the park.. Our beeline path screeched to a halt in front of the fenced Confederate Monument, its neck-craning height causing a "Wow" longer and louder than any heard on the Parkside tour.
Ava: "What is that?" Me: "A monument." Ava: "What's a monument?"
Ah yes, the questions with no easy answers. What exactly IS a monument, anyway? Who IS that man on its top? And why is there a fence around it if there are also steps leading up to it? "I don't know," is the easiest, most truthful answer as I wonder these things myself.
More fences and more questions came along as the Wow Tour headed toward the playground. After fifteen minutes on swings and slides at the park's play area for older children, we spy another play area nearby, just right for a 4 year old. This "wow" is roped off, behind a chain link fence surrounding the nearly-completed band shell. The colorful tot-lot/playground for 3-to-5-year-olds is part of the band shell construction site.
Ava yanks on the fence like a prisoner in lock up at the county jail. "Why is there a fence here?"
"Because it's not finished. They're still building it," says the civic-minded, attuned-to-the-community grown-up in me.
A pause while we both see that the playground is finished and ready to be played on. The band shell looks perfect. The fountain is bubbling. The grass is newly planted.
"It IS finished. Why can't we go in there?"
"I don't know." The most repeated phrase of the Wow Tour.
I've since learned that the band shell is in the punch list phase, with hopes to be opened in the next three to four weeks.
Down the central sidewalk of Forsyth we go, headed for the big fountain. We stop to sit on a park bench, since that's what park benches are there for. We pet dog after dog after dog, always asking permission from the owners first. We collect plate sized yellow leaves from the ground, arranging them bouquet-style, held by the stems.
We come upon a wedding in progress on the north side of the fountain, complete with a real bouquet and a string trio. The bride and all her bridesmaids smile into the cold in strapless dresses, while the wedding guests plus thirty onlookers pull our coats tighter against the chilly wind, as if to transmit warmth to the wedding party.
Caught up in the moment, Ava tries to give our leaf bouquet to the harpist in the trio, then to the police officer on duty, a fixture at all Savannah events held in parks and squares.
"Why is there a policeman at a wedding?" asks Ava.
By now she's getting used to my "I don't know" response. A more honest answer would be "You don't want to know." I wonder why I'm not asking that same question. I'm sorry that to me, a policeman at an outdoor wedding seems normal.
Leaving the wedding behind, we hand off our leaf bouquet to our new friend Ann and her sweet brown dog, One last doggie pat and we head south through Forsyth toward the Sentient Bean, wrapping up our adventure with hot chocolate and extra tall whipped cream, the sweetest stop on the Forsyth Park Wow Tour.