Kelly loves Forest Park; while I've always had a more or less ambivalent attitude towards the place. The park is absolutely beautiful to be sure, and big. Manicured acre for manicured acre, probably the biggest in the valley (bigger than Stanley Park for sure, but I'm not sure how it matches up against Look Park). It also sports a fine zoo (though not as good as the Lupa Zoo in Ludlow -a long overdue blog post, btw). Wonderful gardens, hilly pathways, and duck ponds galore. So what's the problem?
It's just that too often my visits there have been, to put it nicely, less than peaceful. The park is just too close to the big city I guess for a true break from the squabbles of life, as far as my suburban taste goes.
So although it should, the park has not often been near the top of my outings list. Maybe this will change and I should give it more opportunities to impress, I thought to myself, as Kelly twisted our collective arms and drove us there Saturday afternoon. It is close by.
The three day taste of summer having passed, and with the more Aprily temps and breezes, the park was not too crowded and we had plenty of room to roam. Kelly took us down to the section of park called the Aquatic Gardens.
Here green grass surrounds pond after pond, with cool streams crossed over by quaint wooden bridges running between them and into the surrounding woods. That three day spell of warmth has hastened some of the bloomage, which the cool air and bright sunlight was crisply highlighting this afternoon.
Down here, it's water water everywhere.
Each of the light posts lining the main roads and walkways have neat signs hanging from them representing the local life aquatica, like this small mouth bass.
These guys were trying to get first hand looks at the advertised fish.
The "Garden" part of the Aquatic Gardens haven't unpacked for the summer yet, but looking at some strange roots in the water, I can imagine what the next few weeks will present.
The fast moving streams presented something I had never seen before; this duck was running through a couple stretches of rapids like a kayaker.
Although there were blue jays,
...and geese aplenty,
...Saturday at Forest Park turned out to be predominantly a duck day.
They seemed to be flapping around everywhere.
These three, two males courting a female I assume, were constantly on the wing, madly swooping by overhead, back and forth.
There were also tree swallows buzzing and darting close to the water surface, but they were too quick for me today, couldn't get a decent shot. They have to be quick after all; not all the nearby observers were there to bird watch...
Before leaving the Aquatic Gardens, we huffed up a nearby hill for a quick look where the Carriage House and mausoleum are. The hill is near where the Barney mansion used to stand; Mr. Barney being the 19th century ice skate tycoon who generously left all of this land to the city of Springfield for the creation of Forest Park.
I shot this quick video from there: (ever abhorrent of homework, my commentary on the video is mostly based on what I remember reading or hearing about once or twice long ago, rather than any real research, soooo...)
From there it was a short meander back to the car, a-picking dandelions along the way.
I have to say this was a nicer walk around the park -or this section of it, than I'd expected. I'll check my misgivings next time and we'll give the place a few more goes this year, especially during or after the bloom. It is worth it.