When I lived in Peterborough I had a forest around the corner from me, I've spoken affectionately about University Heights Park many many times and it truly is a gem. Then I moved to Kingston, there are some nice wilder parks but none too close to my house. But here I am right across the street from the lake, which presents other opportunities - like swimming! Alas from the time I moved to Kingston last May and up until the end of last week all or parts of the park down the street has been closed for renovations.
Yesterday - finally, after months and months of anticipation and going by the work in progress nearly everyday - I had a chance to check it out with a friend. Breakwater Park has a walkway, picnic tables, a small sandy area, a rocky beach, stairs down to the lake, a bridge across to the pier where the water is deeper and many places to jump or walk into the water and climb back onto shore. All that it needs, in my opinion and desire for the optimal beach experience, is a public bathroom and a spot where a food truck or two can go because I totally could've gone for an ice cream. My swimming opportunities have been rather limited this year, more limited than I had planned (ahem, see previous post), so I was happy to jump into water! I was impressed and my friend was impressed as well. And given that they had just been to Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County the previous day, which is one of the nicest place for a swim around here, and they were impressed with Breakwater Park, I'd say this was a pretty nice swimming spot.
So nice in fact I have now visited it twice!
It was a hot and very humid day of fieldwork (see very sweaty me). I joked with my same friend that I had gone swimming with yesterday that walking in the woods today felt more like swimming with how wet I was from sweating. And in my mind at the same time I had a light bulb moment. I decided that when I got back home I would be making a second appearance at Breakwater Park because I can't think of a better way to cool off after a long hot day (see wide happy smile me)! Except ice cream. They really should have an ice cream truck here.
Last year I made a move - both physical, from one place to another, and metaphorical, as in life changes - from Peterborough where I did my undergraduate studies at Trent University to Kingston to pursue graduate studies at Queen's University. I talked about change in my previous post, it was the thread that held the last year together and I feel it will be the theme of this year as well. And with changes come adjustments.
There was a park right around the corner from where I was living in Peterborough. I was in a newer subdivision at the north end of the city, right at the urban-rural fringe where just beyond the manicured lawns in my neighbourhood were untouched areas and farmland. There was a park around the corner from me; it wasn't particularly big, as far as area goes, but it was packed full of wildflowers from snowmelt to snowfall. Now I live in Kingston, in an older area near the university with the lake right across the street. This area has been developed for a over a century with rows of brick or limestone homes. There are parks nearby, but they are more the pristine city park type with playgrounds that limit the activities a child can imagine, benches that prescribe where you are meant to sit, grass kept short and if there are gardens they are filled with easy to grow ornamental flowers. Regrettably, these are not the wilder lands, filled with possibilities and surprises that in turn fill me with excitement. There are other parks, the kind of parks that I favour, but they are farther away. I did visit Marshlands Conservation Area - a gem of a park to the west end of downtown - the other day, and I look forward to cleaning up my bike when the weather gets a bit warmer so I can visit it more frequently.
While I find the nearby parks disappointing, I admire the gardens in my neighbourhood. The gardens at homes in the newer subdivision I lived in while in Peterborough were also new, if they had been put in at all. It was a clean slate of a neighbourhood, what had been there before had been razed and nothing new had yet established itself.
Here in Kingston my neighborhood is full of older homes, with the majority easily standing at least a century, and these old homes have old gardens. Plants have had a chance to establish themselves in these gardens, and may even have escaped the confines of the garden and stolen away into yards, in this neighbourhood. Any new plans a person may have for their gardens this year must consider, incorporate, and adjust to the decisions from years past in this neighbourhood. I like the idea of gardens in this neighbourhood. There is a continuity with history. The clean slate that existed long ago, when this neighborhood was new, has been filled as the years have gone by.
There are snowdrops in this neighborhood. And I like these too.
I did little exploring in my neighbourhood when I first came to Kingston. The first month I was here it rained every day. The following month I was away at conferences and when I was here it was raining still. The subsequent two months I was doing fieldwork elsewhere. And then it was it was September, school started. While I had a break over the winter holiday the sidewalks were treacherously slippery.
Now that the spring sun has melted the snow I crave the outdoors. But with the end of the semester rushing towards me I find myself with little time to seek out the wilder parks I prefer, at least not on a daily basis. And so I find myself strolling around my neighbourhood for the first time. And I find myself gaining a deep appreciation for this place that I have made my home. While my local parks disappointed me instantly, I love looking at the gardens of these century homes and look forward to observing them throughout the seasons.
News, reflections, notes and other ramblings from the trail by PTBO Flora founder Rachel.