Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Fairmount Park Misadventure

Old postcard of Fairmount Park

Yesterday, my increasingly ever-so-lovely coworkers and I went on a picnic to Fairmount Park. This idea was borne out of a nice happy hour on the stinky and flora-filled Delaware River on Friday afternoon. I was complaining about how South Philly is almost treeless, and my friend suggested a day in the park.

Turns out it was the most perfect idea in the world: when I woke up, the day promised to be 85 and sunny with a lovely breeze. We met up at Whole Foods to gather lunch provisions and then set off to meet the others in the Park, at Lloyd Hall

Lloyd Hall is a lovely place where I actually had been before, unknowingly! It was the site of hip-hop rollerskaters last March, when I came to Philly to visit the city. We met there and then wandered over to the Water Works, an amazingly beautiful, shining white stone building on the edge of the river. The Water Works used to be a city facility, but now is a fancy restaurant and site of about 10 wedding parties yesterday afternoon (the weddings were also up on the hill to the Art Museum, but the sheer number was amazing!). 

 The Water Works

Leaf Composition, Parts and Types

Sitting under a tree whose species I could not identify, with bipinnate leaves and long, green, string of pearls seeds, we sat in the grass, in the shade, and mulled over the universe. One of my coworkers tragically had his car broken into on Friday night after our post-work get together, and I feel terrible that everything in his car was stolen and windows smashed. Philadelphia is a hard place. I am beginning to wonder what sort of energy vortex sits below or above this effects many aspects of life here. 

The Schuylkill River is the site of an annual regatta....and is a beautiful river that runs beside the park!

The river is so high due to the amazing amounts of rain we have had here lately, and the pressure and force of the water going over the falls was amazing to witness. As a result of this, apparently someone thought there was a person trapped at the base of the falls (I think the theory was that someone saw a log and thought it was an arm), and so the entirety of the Philadelphia fire department and EMS showed up in Fairmount Park totally prepared to rescue the person who was really a fallen tree. 

At the base of the waterfalls was a miasma of urban and natural garbage: leaves and trees, rubber balls, and styrofoam twisted in the high-pressure fresh water gyre, constantly spun and twisted by the force of downward falling water. Soon after the arrival of the fire department, it became abundantly clear that there was no one in the water. We were joking about how apparently a log that looks like an arm will get them to come out, or in my case, a dog on a back porch, but when your car gets broken into, the police just aren't really that interested. This is when we as a group decided that if you want the police department to come out, you have to say "shots fired" or "someone is drowning!". 

The historic Fairmount Park bicycle guard....this service totally need to be re-instated

Historic photo of the Fairmount neighborhood, on 21st street. Now there are lots of trees here!

 Bad jokes aside, it was a great day. After the park, we went to the Belgian Cafe in Fairmount and had some tasty beverages as the sun slowly crept down the horizon. It was a beautiful day with wonderful people, and I decided that if I do stay here next year, I will move to that neighborhood to be closer to the park and more likely to live on a block with trees of its own.

Lately, I have been having strange thoughts. Philadelphia in many ways is so negative. It is hard to make friends here, people are tough, the city itself is tough, its as if it has a huge chip on its shoulder and is always saying, "What? It's a piece of crap! Whaddya want?" This is, at least, my observation after four months. I don't understand this attitude, which is perhaps why I have been so at odds with this place and things keep happening to break me down. I refuse to be broken down by this place and in fact hope to make it lovelier and better than it was when I arrived.

My strange thoughts start though, when I think about my life and where it is going and where it has been. I know that I need to be in more of a country-place, more rural, more naturally beautiful. I need to be around positive and happy people (this I do have at work, bien sur!), but ultimately, I need to make decisions that effect my life that make sure that I am happy. That have nothing to do with anyone else, but just solely for me. Right now, I am a one-woman show, so this is the perfect time for this realization to happen to me. All I have is me, and I am about to turn thirty-one. I have been married, and now I have been divorced for almost three years. I am just now feeling some of the acceptance stage of the grief of that experience, especially since another relationship has just ended, this time much better than my marriage. It is amazing how long grief can take to pass over. But here I am, almost thirty-one and a "free agent" as my roommate says.

At this moment, the idea that I am mulling over seems nuts. Crazy. Looney-tunes. Full of risk. A fundamental switch in the hope of happiness and a job, eventually. Something deep inside my heart tells me that this is a risk worth taking. I don't want to be a martyr for things not working out, for society being unfair, for anything, really. I want to be a light-being, someone who has wonderful friends, who eats dinner with those I care about, who can take walks outside in amazingly beautiful surroundings, one who risks stability and security for the risk of, finally, fulfillment......

Links por vous:

The Philadelphia Preservation Alliance is a great organization working to preserve the multitude of historic property here in the city of brotherly love...

Somehow, I never had heard of the World Science Festival until this morning....their site is fantastic! Go and check it out!

And here the lovely Verhext discusses just the dilemma running through my fair head these last few weeks...

Lastly, did you read We Were and Island yet? Well if not, hop to it!!!

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