Schiller, The Poet

I walk around Schiller Park every day.  I’ve gazed in appreciation at the heroic statue in the middle of the park, and know that Schiller was a poet who was so admired by the German immigrants who initially settled in the German Village section of Columbus that they chose to erect a statue to him in the park.

But that’s about the extent of my knowledge, regrettably.  And since I think we should always be interested in broadening our horizons and learning a bit more about the places where we live and work, I set out to learn a bit more about Herr Schiller.  And with the aid of Google, it wasn’t difficult.

Friedrich von Schiller, who lived from 1759 to 1805, was a poet, playwright and philosopher who was a major figure in the European Romantic movement.  He was immensely popular during his life and has been described by a biographer as a “pop star of his time.”  He was passionate, apparently personally unkempt, and had a tumultuous love life that saw him fall in love with two sisters.

But here’s the most impressive thing I learned about Schiller:  he actually inspired Ludwig von Beethoven.  One of Schiller’s most famous poems was Ode to Joy, which Beethoven set to music, in modified form, in the final, chorale movement of his Ninth Symphony.  That’s a pretty impressive testament.  No wonder our predecessor German Village residents erected a statue to this guy!

You can read the entire, translated Ode to Joy here.  Here’s the first verse:

Joy! A spark of fire from heaven,
Daughter from Elysium,
Drunk with fire we dare to enter,
Holy One, inside your shrine.
Your magic power binds together,
What we by custom wrench apart,
All men will emerge as brothers,
Where you rest your gentle wings.

On The Leash

I suspect that our weekend morning walks around Schiller Park are a bit less enjoyable for Betty. 

On our weekday morning walks, which typically occur at around 6 a.m., there are, at most, one or two other dogs that we encounter, and often we see no other dogs at all. 

On our weekend morning walks, on the other hand, we walk a bit later, and usually there are lots of other dogs out — some walking, some playing fetch with their human pals, and some frolicking with other dogs.  Betty is always alert to the dogs that are running free, and I sometimes entertain the notion of letting her off the leash to roam a bit.  She’s not specifically trained for that, however, and I just don’t want to take the chance that she’s going to run off and get into some kind of trouble.  So I keep the leash on, and we walk forward instead.

The weekend walks get tougher when, as happened this morning, some thoughtless person lets an untrained dog loose and the dog charges up to every other dog in the park — including Betty.  It’s unnerving to have a canine of unknown provenance run up to you and your dog with uncertain intentions.  Most dogs are friendly and just want to do the sniff routine, but there have been incidents at Schiller Park where dogs have attacked each other and done some serious damage, to the horror of owners and bystanders.  That’s why the park has a policy that, if you can’t exercise immediate control over your dog by verbal commands, you need to keep the dog on a leash . . . period.  Since there aren’t a lot of verbal command dogs, that means most dogs should be kept on a leash.

But, what’s the social protocol for what to do when some irresponsible person ignores that common-sense rule?  In today’s encounter, the owner of the roaming dog was some older woman who didn’t seem at all troubled by her failure to follow the rules and the fact that her dog was misbehaving and racing up to every other dog in the park.  Should the leashed dog owner say something, or is that crossing an improper line?  I have no desire to lecture people on following the rules, but how else are the rules going to have an impact?

It makes me wish that some dog owners could be put on a leash, too. 

Once More Into Darkness

I may be the only non-farmer in America who dreads the “spring ahead” point in the year — which happens tonight, in case you’ve forgotten.

Why? It’s not that I don’t like having sunshine later in the evening, for sure. No, it’s because I walk Betty in the morning and we’ve just gotten to the point where the sun peeks over the horizon during our morning walk time — as the picture of one of the Schiller Park aerial sculptures that I took recently shows. With clocks moving ahead an hour tonight, Betty and I will once more be plunged into darkness on our morning stroll. We’ll have to deal with a few more weeks of darkness before the lengthening days give us sunshine at 6 a.m.

Trash Tax

I’m a big believer in the “user fee” concept of funding governmental services.  The underlying notion is simple:  many governmental services benefit us all, but some benefit only the specific users of the service — so why not have them bear the lion’s share of the cost of providing that service?  If a municipal government operates an airport, for example, it seems eminently fair to fund its construction and operations through taxes and charges to the passengers who fly through the airport and the airlines, rental car companies, and other who profit by doing business at the airport.

I think governmental entities also should consider expanding the “user fee” concept to look not only at who benefits from government services, but also at who causes the need for the government service in the first place.  I’m thinking specifically about the trash that you find at the parks, and on the streets and sidewalks, of Columbus and other American cities.  At some point, for example, somebody from some governmental entity comes to Schiller Park, empties the refuse cans, and picks up the random bits of trash to be found on the park lawns and sidewalks.

As a dedicated litter fighter who tries to pick up and throw away the random trash found at Schiller, I know first hand that much of the contents of the trash cans, and virtually all of the litter on the lawns and sidewalks, is fast food debris — coffee cups and lids, cheap styrofoam containers, straws, straw wrappers, sandwich wrappers, napkins, and carryout bags.  It’s virtually inevitable that at least some portion of fast food carryout will end up as litter, and as you move from the area around the McDonald’s to the area around the Starbucks you see the change in the litter patterns that reflects that.

So why not impose a targeted “trash tax” on fast food restaurants that helps to defray the cost of picking up the litter that those businesses generate?  It would be different from any fees paid for maintaining dumpsters at the fast food restaurant that get emptied from time to time, and would instead focus on the cost of the consequences of fast food carryout from a neighborhood trash standpoint.  And if fast food restaurants wanted to pass on the cost by charging carryout customers a bit more, I’d be fine with that, too.

Litter is a curse that can ruin enjoyment of parks and neighborhoods.  It seems eminently fair to require the businesses that cause the litter problem to pay for addressing it.

Leaf Stripes

Most of the trees at Schiller Park have long since lost their leaves, but these two little trees on the south side of the park held on to their brightly colored companions until the bitter (cold) end. Then they coordinated their leaf falls so the leaves would form neat parallel yellow stripes on the grass and sidewalk that we saw as Betty and I walked by this morning.

The leaf falls must have been sudden and recent, because the leaves haven’t yet been scattered by the cold breeze, by frolicking dogs, or by little kids who just can’t resist shuffling and kicking their way through the pile. For now, though, it’s a pretty little scene in our beautiful neighborhood park.

Suspended Over Schiller

On our walk around Schiller Park this morning, Betty and I discovered that an outdoor art exhibition has been installed at various points in the park. I think it’s the first outdoor art display at Schiller in the time we’ve been living in German Village, and it makes me hope that others will be following it.

The exhibition is called Suspension: Balancing Art, Nature, and Culture and it features life-sized sculptures by Jerzy Jotka Kedziora suspended at various points in the park.

As Betty and I walked the perimeter of the park, we caught glimpses of the sculptures in the interior of the park. The pieces had the effect of pulling us into the park, and made a cool, rainy day a lot more interactive and interesting. And now is a pretty good time to see the exhibition — which runs until March 2020 — with the sculptures framed against the remaining colorful fall foliage.

Many of the sculptures have a circus-type theme, but my favorites were the hard-working rower floating above the pond and a headless angelic figure drifting above the Third Street entrance to the park, with the tassels of its dress jostling in the breeze. Kudos to the Friends of Schiller Park for sponsoring a very cool bit of outdoor art.