After lunch with the folks, Kelly and I decided to head out for some light walking somewhere. We grabbed the dog, and soon found ourselves on the Turnpike heading for Westfield, and Stanley Park. The sun threatened to finally break through the clouds on the way...
The dog knew what was coming, and took advantage of the short ride to rest up.
We pulled in by the acres of playing fields, tennis courts and children's' play gyms, across the street from Westfield State College. We originally were going to check out the wildlife sanctuary here, but changed our minds and instead walked around the back side of the park, near the Little River which runs along the southern side of the park. We stopped there to peer over the bridge into the crystal clear water running over a dam.
We moved on to Stanley Park , the creation of Frank Stanley Beveridge, of Stanley Home Products fame.
I'm no stranger to Stanley Park. Our family; sometimes a dozen uncles and aunts, and scores of cousins, would descend on this tranquil park like a hurricane, many Sundays a year during the summers of my childhood. We'd come armed with bags of charcoal and large Tupperware containers full of seasoned poultry, lamb and beef. Giant bowls for salad and fixings, bags of bread and coolers full of beverages. Our train of cars would get there early, usually right after morning mass, and we'd stake out two or three picnic tables and grills. These giant Sunday family outings were a family tradition, and the destination was usually either Stanley Park, or Rocky Neck Beach down in Connecticut.
All of us young cousins would spread out and explore the park after eating. Sometimes in small groups, sometimes we'd engage in large-scale games of tag, or hide and seek throughout the acres of park. And the park was well suited for kids games. It is divided into several distinct sections: the ponds, the fields, the woods, all interconnected by easy trails. It is just large enough for kids to explore extensively, yet small enough to not get lost. It was a grand time.
In more recent years I've come to appreciate the care and effort taken to maintain what is one of the most beautiful private parks in the valley. The family caravan days now long over, I still make a couple trips a year to this park that holds such a special place in my heart. Not really to picnic, though I might take that back up again on my own, but mostly just to walk around and marvel at it's beauty.
Here's a look from the back entrance where we came in. Nearby is a small frog pond that is usually filled with tadpoles:
I can remember just barely being able to look over the top of this small bridge, scanning below for tadpoles. The rocky wall now comes up to about my mid-thigh.
A short walk from there and your at the main ponds. Ducks, Geese, and Swans perennial residents. There's a wooden walkway all around the bigger half, a multi-colored flagstone walkway around the smaller.
The area around the covered bridge is a favorite spot for wedding photographers.
This smaller bridge spans the way to the mill, with it's spinning water wheel. Me and my kid, when he was about 4 or 5, had a stand-off at this bridge, with a belligerent swan who wouldn't let us across. We waved arms and wings and hooted and hissed at each other for several minutes. Finally the bird gave in to the primates, and backed away...
Chipmunks with no fear of man or dog.
An interestingly gnarled tree. One of a vast collection of exotic plants and trees all over the park.
Up these stairs are some magnificent rose gardens, another favorite spot for wedding photos, or weddings themselves. Westfield Blogger LizzieBelle often comes here to take her distinctive photographs.
No dogs are allowed there though, so we went to some wooded trails nearby there, where wildflowers grow. On the way we passed this now-defunct water fountain. This was a central feature of the park on many hot summer weekends; to a phalanx of my thirsty, dirty and sweaty cousins, as we horded about it and impatiently took turns.
We got to the wildflower trail. There is a huge variety here, and in most places small signs tell you about what your looking at.
Unfortunately most of the wildflowers haven't sprung just yet. I figure one or two more weeks ought to do it...Huge Rhododendrons are found here too, but they also haven't bloomed yet. Fiddle heads are all over the place now.
We passed this traffic island/turned tulip garden, and moved on to the Japanese Garden. We took a break there, under a small pagoda.
I almost drifted off to sleep here, listening peacefully to singing birds, and smelling the passing fragrances of the blossoming Spring plant life in the breeze...
Kelly eventually shook me back to consciousness, and we made our way across the broad playing fields, back to the car. This guy is using the wide open spaces as inspiration for his guitar playing.
Meanwhile these kids use the fields for more conventional purposes.
It's good to see Stanley Park is still alive and very well. It's a gem for all successive generations to enjoy. A tribute to the vision of Frank Stanley Beveridge.