[Note: I wrote these long-hand in a college-ruled composition notebook while out at Royal Lake in Fairfax, VA. This is not an Olmsted park, but it is super close to my house and helps me to think of things related. I simply typed things up… not sure if I’ll share more of these things?]
Locale 1 [just a bit through the wooded part of the path to the right past the kayaks, up and down some hilly bits, peeking out over water]:
Olmsted wouldn’t have minded this place. “Sufficient” shade and sunlight. What I love is that a landscape is never static. The breeze and the shifting sun as we move in its orbit and on our axis make virtually nothing constant… [in flux yet slow]. The trees and shrubs do not appear to be glowing or dying and yet the breeze brings to me a brown leaf already fallen, as evidence of autumn. The area is ‘landscaped’ – – [then] there are boards preventing erosion from foot traffic and exercise stations and sloped hills they mow for whatever reason… but it barely intrudes. I hear nothing but the birds and insects—and I guess somewhere a distant plane. But this place was built – a manmade (I believe) reservoir [created by dam and flood control]. The way nature has taken over is its greatest attribute. There is a paved way that stops at nothing—at lake. The sun feels good but I can only bear it for so long—walking helps. Meandering helps. This is what parks are put aside for. There is a path, but only because it is natural to want to follow water, to see what is around a bend.
Locale 2 [little alcove with trees and branches, seeking water]:
A walk is an exploratory process. [I] see something else every time you revisit a place. A new walk (Ammons) for sure. It’s about change and consistency. [I] come back to a landscape and it feels familiar even despite change over many years. To keep takes maintenance but if we let it grow…
This is less built than Olmsted’s parks, than some of them—and yet from what I can gather Olmsted’s designs did require removal and replanting—albeit within the region’s own supplies [no foreign plants]. Scenery is about a point of vision. It is all [below] horizon. [I] forget about sky except what sun does to shadows. See a leaf fall. See an acorn drop into water. The geese are constants. There’s no way sound is ever silent. Tree limbs hand into my sight line and leaves shift like broken metronomes still trying to keep time. [I] attempt containment but forget what is at [my] back. [I’ve] calculated a level of pleasure based on what is in view—sad to see waste or unfortunate the “weeds” invade. The idea of weed is interesting. There is a sense of interruption even though that is their “job”. They grow and consume.
What is in our minds? No one runs with ipods here. [I] occupy [my] mind with sight or breeze or the only opportunity something other than what [I] choose is interrupting [my] vision. There are no imperatives to our experience—I should say “my” since I am the only in the company of strangers. I feel the flesh pronoun. These set aside lands truly are democratic. We all have access – even the violent.
Olmsted’s concept of shutting out other landscapes is fascinating. In the Fens you cannot see the park, let alone the city. Here some tall shrubs comfortable in water block my view of soccer fields… almost. And then, like meadow, I see a goal peeking out from betweeen trees.
We give a name of park to the ground. A place to stop—a place to cease other things for a while. A place to build something else. Still a place set aside, even in distance from our usual selves… a place to go to like wilderness, not our present location constantly— unlike wilderness, accessible. Close by. Everyone has or should have a park. I seek them out. It is the first thing I find.
[Additional Notes: (1) brackets are added later when typing up notes… I realized I started flexing universal… I think as a poet I’m always anxious of the “I” and want to claim shared experience… but who am I to do that? So I revise. (2) images are not from the locations I was writing from, and are a bit blue in color as they were taken from my camera phone]