The Value Of A Park

Living near Schiller Park — a sprawling, 150-year-old green space that covers multiple city blocks and is home to mature trees, picnic tables, lots of shade, a duck pond, a rec center, tennis courts, a playground, an outdoor basketball court, and a stage where the Actors Theatre of Columbus performs on summer evenings — has really shown me the value that a park brings to a community.

German Village has a very strong and distinctive neighborhood feel, and Schiller Park is a big part of that.  The park  is constantly in use, from the joggers and dog walkers who circle it in the early morning hours to the mid-day basketball and tennis players and parents pushing their kids ever higher on the swings, to the late afternoon birthday parties on the picnic tables beneath huge shade trees and people reading books on benches or playing fetch with their dogs.  You see the same people over and over, which of course reinforces the feeling of community, and you take pride in this beautiful patch of green that draws people like a magnet.  German Village without Schiller Park wouldn’t really be German Village at all.

In the American neighborhoods built before 1900, parks were of course part of the design — because green space and parkland were traditional in the countries of Europe from which many Americans of that era immigrated.  I’m sure the German immigrants who gave German Village its name never gave a second thought to putting in a large park, because it was just expected and obvious.  

At some point after 1900, though, the builders of suburban communities saw parks as less necessary, whether it was because they figured people would be driving around and not interested in walking to a park, or because they concluded that the acreage of a park could be more profitably devoted to still more houses.  As a result, many suburban communities are seriously park-deprived.  

It’s too bad, because a nice park really makes a difference and brings a lot of value to a neighborhood.

New Fountain At Schiller Park Pond

The German Village Society has installed a new fountain at the Schiller Park pond.  The new fountain is just in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the park itself — and to greet the visitors coming to our neighborhood for today’s Haus und Garten Tour.

In my view, the new fountain is definitely an improvement.  And the assorted ducks and geese that hang out at the pond seem to like it, too.

Julius On The Lawn

Last night Kish and I legged it over to Schiller Park to watch The Actors’ Theatre of Columbus performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  It was a beautiful evening, clear and mild, and we sat on the lawn with a few hundred of our neighbors.

Shakespeare’s tale of intrigue, conspiracy, and foul murder in Ancient Rome is one of his better plays, featuring Marc Antony’s brilliant funeral oration for the murdered Caesar and lots of memorable lines, like “Beware the idea of March!” and “Friends, Romans, and Countrymen, lend me your ears!”  The ATC performance is top-notch — I thought the actors playing Brutus, Antony, and Caesar were especially good — and there is just something intrinsically enjoyable about outdoor theater on a lovely evening.

Julius Caesar will run for another two weeks and is the first of four plays that will be performed by ATC this season, which also will feature Pride and Prejudice and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  If you’ve never been to one of these shows, I encourage you to stop by Schiller Park, enjoy some live theater, and toss a few bucks into the kitty for ATC.


Goslings On Parade

It’s spring, so of course we’ve got hatchlings at the Schiller Park pond.  A family of Canadian geese has a brood of four goslings who have been strutting their stuff, to the delight of their proud and protective parents and passersby alike.

The brown goslings are almost unbearably cute, and their tumbling and waddling as they follow Mom and Dad around is fun to watch.  Soon they’ll be losing their downy coats and will emerge as full-grown Canadian geese — one of the most aggressive, loud-honking, crap-anywhere-and-everywhere, obnoxious species of birds that you find around these parts.

I prefer them at this stage.

That Growing Scent

This morning I took an early morning lap around Schiller Park — because I’ve been on the road, the first such lap in a while — and as I circumnavigated the park I couldn’t help but notice a distinct fragrance in the air.  

You might call it that growing scent.  It’s something you smell every spring — a heady mixture of mulch, fertilizer, damp soil, growing grass, buds, newly sprung leaves, and everything else that seems to be popping as the weather warms and the rain falls.  It’s spicy and earthy and a bit intoxicating, and very much welcome.

We didn’t have a bad winter this winter, but it’s always glorious when you detect that growing scent and know that spring has come.

Bussing The ‘Hood

I really hate litter — and I also really like our neighborhood.  So when I’m out for my morning walk I pick up the random bits of trash that often litter the ground and pitch them into the trash cans found around the perimeter of Schiller Park.  It’s a beautiful park that is a cornerstone of our community, and it really bugs me when litter makes it look shabby.

There’s no end to the trash that thoughtless, ignorant jerks will leave behind to mar the landscape and become somebody else’s problem — discarded Starbucks cups and lids are a perennial find, but candy wrappers, newspapers, and Red Bull cans are commonplace, too,  and once I found and tossed a beggar’s cardboard “please help me” sign positioned right next to his tossed Old English 16-ounce can.  

The world would be a prettier, better place if everyone picked up a few pieces of unsightly debris — and if the stupid litterbugs ended their nasty habit in the first place and started caring about the appearance of their cities instead.  And don’t get me started about smokers and their casually tossed cigarette butts!