Saturday, October 12, 2013

Just Another Walk in the Park

One of the many great things about having a dog is that it forces you to get out and walk. One of the great things about living in Springfield is getting to walk in Forest Park, hence Riley and I spend a lot of time walking in the park. Riley loves to walk, and the minute I turn my car off Sumner Avenue, wave at the familiar face in the ticket booth, and head down the road, he's sitting up and sniffing, knowing there’s adventure is afoot.  

We walk here in all seasons. If we come on a nice weekend day in the summer, we are weaving our way through picnickers, little leaguers, bridal parties, and runners. In the winter we are apt to be almost alone. No matter the season, it is always a rewarding visit. We have several routes--the path through the rose garden, the walk around the lily ponds, and, in the winter, the track around the playing fields because it is plowed. Yesterday we took my favorite route--around the lily ponds, up to the mausoleum, by the Carriage House, Prouty's Grove, and back down to the duck ponds.  It was a grey day, but the fall colors were glorious.

Even as the structures for"Bright Nights" were being erected, nature shone through. The reds and yellows of the maples, the floating leaves in the stream, the amazing lotus seed pods—all worthy of a poem. The Bright Nights’ version of deer jumping over Magawiska Road was already up, but it reminded me
 of just a couple of months ago when I saw three real deer
crossing the same road right in the same spot.  

Going on this walk always brings back memories since I've been coming here since I was very small. I remember family picnics near the waterfall, visiting the museum that was housed in the Barney Estate before it was torn down to make way for I91, running up the steps of the mausoleum, watching my grandfather trying to get the peacocks to spread their feathers, and skating on Porter Lake. I also remember Mr. and Mrs. Prouty who used to play bridge with my grandparents.  

To be honest, yesterday I thought about taking a shorter route just around the ponds and going on my way, but Riley started heading up the hill, so I followed his lead. The colors, the sounds of the birds, the fresh fall air--all made me feel so refreshed and grateful. Over and over I am grateful to O. H. Greenleaf and Everett Barney for donating this land to the city in 1874, and for all the successive generations who have kept it up. It's good to remember in these days of gated neighborhoods, that public space and public parks are a good thing for everyone.

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