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Remember: What is the point of a City Park? Part Two: Refuge

Friday, October 2, 2009

What is the point of a City Park? Part Two: Refuge

Standing alongside the lagoon at Trexler Park a heron met eyes with me. I slowly drew my camera to my face, focused and the second my finger pressed the button, the heron fled. I had become a threat in the heron’s home, its refuge. I too was in Trexler Park yesterday afternoon in my refuge. Away from the noise, confusion, and hollow junctions of urban life, our refuge is our parks and the second reason for them.

Back in April, as I sauntered up the hill to see General Trexler in Trexler Park, I told my brother that I was going to post about our trip on my blog. I did not know what for. I was just going to do it to do it. As my explorations grew deeper, longer and more frequent, a physical sensation began to overwhelm me. Pressing my footsteps into the ground of our city parks, I began to feel better.

I would step out of my station wagon, and breathe deeply. Even on the most humid of summer afternoons the air in the park would feel lighter. The haze would dissipate into the shadows behind the trees. My hands would stop shaking. My heart would stop racing. In the parks it would seem that my spirit could be free.

Continuing to observe the epic saga of our National Parks on PBS this week I was amazed at a sort of coincidence that was common to most of the major figures in Park history. Many of these men and women were like me. They were sick; and when they got themselves into the park a slight and slow healing found them as if it were waiting. Other Park figures were mourning or suffering and just as those who were mentally sick found relief, these individuals found peace.

They found their refuge. They found Nature as a serene sentinel in which the mere act of breathing could serve as the perfect medicine to heal their soul’s afflictions. I too found my refuge. Be it in the valley of the Parkway or the trails on South Mountain, these places are free. It is that certain freedom that creates unbounded peace. Nature is also in itself eternally reliable. Here the idea of refuge intersects with my previous post on the purpose of parks.

In Trexler Park, much like the Parkway, I found autumn waiting to pounce. I saw that aforementioned heron. I saw blue jays twirl in yellowing trees and a bright red cardinal dart from branch to branch on browning bushes. I saw a squirrel chase a chipmunk for an acorn. I watched the unfolding stratus clouds reveal the face of the sun for short intervals. I took a breath as deep as I could take it and I allowed the intoxicatingly cold air fill my torso. I had found a refuge.

So, go into the parks and breathe. Slow the ever quickening pace of modern life back to the standstill where it belongs. In Allentown, we are blessed to have as many parks as we do. There is no place in the city where it would be a hassle to get yourself into a park. Go and try to find some peace. That is one of the reasons they are there. General Trexler knew that too.

More to come…

See Also:
What's the point of a City Park? Part One



Anonymous Anonymous said...

you have a great poetry in your expression of appreciation for these parks.

I think a lot of people are sick in the way you've described, and don't even know it, and don't even know what it feels like to have a yummy warm serenity feeling of a park flowing through their veins.


October 3, 2009 at 6:41 AM  

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