Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

7/17/15 at 2:30 pm
At the Stewart Park Promontory

  • Temperature: 77 degrees
  • Wind: 1-10 MPH
  • Sky: Partly cloudy
  • Turtles
  • Geese
  • Mallards
  • Cormorants
  • Gulls
  • Songbirds
  • Camp kids playing tennis
  • Fishermen
  • People of all shapes and sizes walking and running and biking

I've been absent for a while; both at this blog, and my Stewart Park Promontory. Actually, I've been to the Promontory twice since April, but never felt inspired enough to get the experiences written down. Then spring slipped into summer, and without writing deadlines I have slipped away from words and into the world of my garden. But today I went to the park in search of something in particular, something I knew I could get my hands on at the Promontory.

As I strolled the well-worn path, I noticed how reinvigorating it was to be back. Strange to think that I visited there (almost) every week from January to May. Yet now it seemed almost foreign to me. The trail was grown over with lush green honeysuckle, poison ivy, and poplar. Grey, cackling birds I couldn't name hollered at me and startled out of the bushes. Logs were strewn against the shoreline, a product of heavy rains and flooding. Turtles sunned in the swan pen. It was still my place, but it had changed. I suppose, the same could be said of me. I regret, slightly, that I missed so many weeks of observation. But I walked on to find the thing I had come for.

Once upon a time, circa 1880, Ithaca's roads were paved with yellow bricks. This is a fact. There is a legend that goes along with it: Back in those days, a man named L. Frank Baum was a theatre actor touring the country. He opened one of his plays in Ithaca, where he met a girl who attended Cornell University. He returned to Ithaca often for his romance and likely noticed the yellow brick roads during his visits. Years later, Baum wrote a little novel you may have heard of-- The Wizard of Oz-- which features a particularly special Yellow Brick Road.

Over time, the yellow bricks of Ithaca were pulled up. Some red bricks replaced them, and eventually cement and asphalt covered what was left. In places around Ithaca one can still find asphalt worn away and yellow bricks layered underneath. And on a visit to the Promontory in May I found this:

Is it stealing to enter a public park and squish around in the shallows to dig up bricks that are yellow? If it is, I am confessing here.

Along with tending my pea and tomato and bean plants, I have been resurfacing my weed-covered, shale-shattered stone patio. I already had a couple of yellow bricks from my original patio creation ten years ago. But I coveted a few more. Most of those I found in the water's edge were red. But I scrounged up a few yellows to create a yellow brick road in my backyard. I think it came out quite nicely. It will serve as a reminder to me that should I get lost, should I need to find my way back to the natural world, all I need to do is follow Ithaca's yellow brick road and it will lead me home. 

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Oh, that's so cool! I love your yellow brick road patio!!