Forest Park has many rooms; areas of the park that seem to stand by themselves. These are places where you can sit, stand, or just wander through and imagine that you are somewhere else entirely. Mark Twain is alleged to have said, “You can’t see clearly when your imagination is out of focus.” I think that is very true.
It can be a hot, crowded summer day in Forest Park, and there is still a place where you can be, a room there in the park, just for you, although one or two others may wander through it occasionally. But it is there, just for you. You can sit there in that room, relish the sunshine or shelter in the shade, and ruminate on all manner of things.
All around you the never-ending cycle of nature continues; spring’s blooms unfold almost before your eyes, new life everywhere, a world whose green is golden-hued and omnipresent. Summer ’s heat, warming a body through to the bones, dispelling the last of cruel winter’s chills. The glories of autumn, the turning of the leaves, sweater weather returning in time to save us from the surfeit of summer. And in all of this trinity of life, life returns to the park. Migratory birds fly through, surprised to find an oasis in the desert of the city. Nests appear, stick by stick as hawks and robins, kestrels and wrens, herons and swallows raise their young within the boundaries of the park.
A crowd of starlings, with the odd blue jay, robin and red winged blackbird among them arrested me as I puttered through the park today, annoying the drivers behind me. They grazed in the wet grass on the north side of the Central Fields, where Faulkner, Grand and Theater Drives intersect each other. I stalked them for a while, moving slowly towards them, following their movements up the incline toward the Central Fields, working to catch good photos of them as I went. There may well have been over a hundred of these birds there in the grass, it is only now that I look at the photos and make a count that I have a good idea of their number.
And then, there I was; I had climbed to the top of the rise intent on the birds and now I found myself in the open, next to the second oldest man-made artifact in the park (There is a photo of it in today’s catch). I moseyed on and found myself stepping out of that room into a much cozier one, quite different from the Central Fields, though adjacent to them. It has a name now: Hidden Creek Savannah. It was just a creek ten years ago when I did my first Forest Park 365 project, but now, thanks to Forest Park Forever and the Great Rivers Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists, the invasive species have been eradicated, and native grasses once more flourish. Half of the savannah is blackened from the controlled burn of last fall, but come the spring and summer, all of it will once more be teeming with life. I sat by the creek for some photos, careful not to drop any of my equipment in, and was wander a bit, meditating on the shades of brown and tan, when my phone rang. Rebecca requested the honor of my presence to pick her up from school.
So off I went, picking up a few souvenirs as I want, bidding my favorite park good day.