Palms in autumn

Ah, fall. Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to throw on a cozy sweater, take a stroll under the cascading leaves in the woods in the fresh, brisk air, and maybe bring along a hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee to keep your hands warm.

Last Saturday (which is the Sunday of our Friday-Saturday weekend here), Wil proposed just such a walk. There were no sweaters or pumpkin-flavored drinks, or falling leaves, but there were palm trees, and sunshine, and a green park with a winding path to follow. In Kuwait, fall so far has meant daily temps dropping closer to 95 and 100 each day, instead of 110 and 115. The heat is abating somewhat but autumn looks a little different than my usual view of the season.

For our walk, naturally, we headed to the mall. (This is Kuwait, after all.) The Boulevard Mall borders the Boulevard Park, which is a roughly 80-acre park containing restaurants, sports fields, including a cricket pavilion; a 3-km walking path; a large lake, several playgrounds; and even four “train stations” for a children’s train that travels along the park path.

After parking in the mall parking lot, we entered the mall and crossed through to the opposite side, exiting out to the park. Unlike inside, which was bustling and crowded with families, the park was quiet, with only an occasional couple or jogger passing us on the path. We clearly are not yet in the season when the park is in full, or really even, partial use. The sports fields and tennis courts were empty, half the storefronts for restaurants were empty, and the train sat idle near the mall exit/entrance.

Initially, the path wound us around the lake.

Past the lake and the mostly-empty restaurants, we entered a much greener area of the park, the greenest, lushest spaces I’ve seen since coming to Kuwait. Bougainvillea bloomed and the grass was bright and not the parched brown we are used to seeing.

Earlier in the day, when Wil was hanging some lights on our upper balcony, there had been a breeze. At the park, though, the wind had dropped and the air was still and warm. Shade was very welcome when the path wound us underneath the stands for the cricket pitch and surprised us with a tunnel of playful block murals and shifting lights.

The park is urban but you can almost forget that you are in the middle of a city of 3 million, as long as you ignore the tall apartment buildings along the horizon.

We turned back toward the mall rather than following the path along its complete loop. Returning, the path was lined with a surprising amount of non-palm trees.

No idea yet what kind of performances happen in this amphitheater, but I’d love to find out eventually:

Another tunnel provided us with an ongoing light show as we passed through it.

There were two prayer houses in the park, one for women and one for men. Mosques are everywhere here, and all malls come with multiple prayer rooms, so seeing the structures dedicated to prayer in the park wasn’t unexpected. Since no one was around, I felt comfortable snapping a photo.

There was a small stream running through a grassy area with an old, slippery, suspension bridge dangling across it. Why not cross it?

The sun was starting to lower in the sky and we were rewarded with a view of a much larger bridge on the other side, bathed in a golden light:

Soon after, we finished our “Sunday” afternoon stroll in this very long summer which has stretched into a non-existent fall. Inside the mall, we cooled off with ice cream for Liam and Frappuccinos for the grown-ups. (If there’s anything Kuwaitis love as much as their malls, it’s their coffee shops…)

I know this feeling of summer will stretch beyond autumn into winter and spring as well. For now, I can’t help missing looking up on a walk and seeing foliage with deep reds and oranges on crisp afternoons, but perhaps some day I’ll look back at our time here and miss palm fronds outlined by a pure blue sky on a balmy fall day.