Setting Thesaurus Entry: City Park

Sight

tall trees, well-tended bright green grass, park benches, water fountain, drink fountain, fields, joggers, dog-walkers, strollers, women with strollers, holding toddlers by the hand, a pond with ducks/swans/geese, garbage cans, dedication plaques, stone benches, picnic tables, paved pathways, cyclists, birds pecking at the grass, pigeons clustering at the feet of children or the elderly as they toss seed or breadcrumbs, bird poop, litter, flowers, manicured flowerbeds with perennials (lilies, rosebushes, daisies, tulips, cone flower. etc), teenagers tossing around a football or Frisbee, picnickers, hot dog carts, ice cream carts, poles covered in fliers and ads for events, light poles, a child's spray park, iron fences separating park from street, dead leaves, pine cones, butterflies, flies, bees, beetles, worms, spiders, chipmunks, squirrels, gophers. cattails at the edge of a man-made pond, bird's nests, buskers playing guitars, trumpets, violins, etc, decorative rocks (in flowerbeds, along pathways, etc), homeless people or signs of homelessness (sleeping on benches, pan handlers, a ragged backpack or tarp beneath some bushes out of the way), kids flying kites in an open field, people using colorful poop bags to collect their dog's waste, smokers, cigarette butts crushed against the ground, shadows among the trees

Sounds

Music (live buskers, radios, mashed hard rock notes leaking out a jogger's iPod), birds tweeting, squawking, chirping, squirrels or gophers darting through dried leaves and undergrowth, dogs barking, kids crying, squealing, shouting, laughing, whining, people talking, heavy quick breaths of joggers, mothers calling out to their children, the splash of water at the fountain or spray park, the rustle of a hot dog wrapper being thrown in the trash, wind through the leaves, pigeons cooing, the bounce and scatter of birdseed hitting the pavement, the crackle of an umbrella opening in bad weather, shoes on the pathway, the drone of bees/flies, the squeak of a bike wheel or tight brake, the patter of water hitting the edges of a stone fountain, nearby street traffic, airplanes going overhead, the snap and flutter of a kite fighting the wind,

Smells

Food from vendor carts (hot dogs, pretzels, onions, etc), fresh mowed grass, blooming flowers, dead, dusty leaves, warmed earth, perfume/body spray/aftershave, sweat, algae if there's a pond, dog fur, a pungent whiff of skunk (if they live in the area and one's gone off), smoke, pine needles, cigarette smoke

Tastes

A hot dog bought from the cart, a picnic sandwich, water, pop, slushes, ice cream, gum, mints, cough drops, crackers, sunflower seeds, hot nuts, cigarette (if smoking or passing a smoker)

Touch

The stiff boards of a park bench digging at your back, hard cement underfoot, the soft, spiky grass prickling at your butt and calves as you sit, water spray carried on the wind from a fountain, dipping feet or fingers in the fountain, wiping sweat from the brow with the back of the hand, kite cord digging into palms as you struggle to hold the kite, pulling a coat/sweater tighter around self during cooler weather, shoving hands in pockets, draping an arm across the back of a bench, crumpling garbage up to put into a trash barrel, digging a hand into a paper bag for seed, the smooth pellets of bird seed against the fingers and palm, leaning forward to scatter seed, gripping tight to a purse or backpack as you walk among strangers, a tight grip on a toddler's hand, wiping at the face with a napkin, tipping a water bottle back against the mouth, fiddling with the iPod/MP3 to change the song, waving at a friend across the way, motioning them over, kicking at pine cones/loose gravel with foot, stepping to avoid bird poop, stepping off the path to allow a wide stroller or cyclist to pass, the rough bark of a tree digging into the back as you lean against the trunk, running fingers over a smooth flat stone as you prepare to skip it across the water, plucking a flower and feeling the silky petals, the sting of a football slapping the palm in a rough catch, the rub and jerk of a dog leash against the palm as your dog lunges for another dog, to chase a squirrel or try to run up to someone for affection

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Jenna's gaze bounced between from her husband Mark, who side stepped across the grass, his hands waving in the air and their seven-year-old son Ben, who stood not far away with the football, his tongue dipping out to lick the corner of his mouth as his arm bent back to throw. As she leaned back on one elbow on their picnic blanket, the sun came out from behind a cloud and warmed her brow. She closed her eyes and smiled up at the sky, enjoying the perfect moment.

Example 2:

Torin crouched behind the thick brambles, willing his feet not to shift on the gluey wet leaves. He gulped at the cold air, straining to hear his pursuers as he attempted to get his breathing under control. The silty moonlight didn't penetrate the shadows, but if his raspy breath gave him away to Brett and his crew, he was as good as dead anyway.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

The old man hunched at the end of the bench like a crooked branch, tossing seed down to the greedy pigeons at his feet.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The pathway circled a fat, man-made pond and had two lanes. Watching the wheezing joggers stumble their way around, Sam couldn't help but think of a track he'd once visited on the outskirts of New Haven where the nags were lame, too old to run, or both.

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8 comments:

Karen Lange said...

Good post! Gives me lots of ideas - thanks for helping spur the creative juices. Have a great weekend!

Nora MacFarlane said...

I've said it before, but I love this blog.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm with Nora! :) I love the description of example 2. This is great stuff for me - super good!

Stephanie Thornton said...

I love that branch simile. I've had a thing with tree imagery lately- I'm not sure why.

Tara McClendon said...

Great post. I love parks. We have one where we can rent paddle boats. It's fun.

Bish Denham said...

Another excellent thesaurus entry!

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