A park is a large garden or area for recreation. It’s set in a natural surrounding, and is well-groomed for the public to enjoy. When you think of parks, you think of kids flying kites, dogs chasing their tails, and couples on a tryst. Nothing about the word park indicates wilderness and untamed trees. At least not to me. From where I am, parks are mild areas, havens for kids and pets. You’d see a bunch of manicured trees and bushes lining the circumference of the park, and often, swings, merry-go-rounds, slides and ladders, among other play things. A typical park includes not only enthusiastic people on their toes, but also older folk walking or meditating. Having grown up with that image, it’s an understatement when I say the parks I went to in Seattle were wild.
I visited the Lincoln Park and the Faultleroy Park in southwest Seattle, and both redefined the word parks for me.
The moment I saw Lincoln park on the map, I knew I had to visit. Not only is it located in an interesting intersection, but it’s also a massive triangular-shaped piece of land. When I got down at the bus station, facing me was a wall of towering trees. To my left were trees and to my right were more trees. In front, a small path led straight within to whatever the trees surrounded. Beyond the first few tens of steps, I couldn’t see anything but the dark interior of more trees. Nonplussed, I began walking to the left searching for an indication—a sign, a gate—to entering the park. Finding no help, I saw straight ahead. There was only one way left to go.
Despite it being midday on a waning summer day, as soon as I stepped into the shades of the trees, coolness engulfed me. It felt as if I’d walked into another, much colder, world that drowned the noise of humankind, giving way only to the melodies of birds and the rustling of leaves.
The trail led me on, and I followed unable to differentiate between the path I was heading and the path I should’ve headed toward. Only greenery surrounded me. Unlike a supposed walkway, the path appeared more like a beaten track. It’s as if thousands of footsteps everyday had trodden it into existence. And yet, although so many people traversed through the same way, no authority has cleared up the sideway. And I’ve never been more thankful.
Although trees and wild bushes grew all over the place, the walk within the park itself wasn’t stressful. I felt extreme joy as I grazed past overgrown weeds and overhanging branches. That’s the greatest thing about the park: it’s lack of civility. Experiencing nature in its natural form seemed the only natural way to make an afternoon useful. And for a nature lover as myself, a day amongst centuries-old trees is a day well spent.
After a while, still seeing nothing but dense trees, I wondered if I’d lost my way. Looking at the map, I realised multiple tracks in the park led to the tip of the triangle—the ocean. I sped up, eager to see the end of the trail. My path twisted and twirled, but when I approached the end of the track, I was standing on a large, leafy rock looking down at the sea. Turning left onto the path that led downward to the ocean, I felt excitement rising within me. When I reached the bottom, the entire ocean sprawled in front of me, bluish water studded with the sun’s reflection. Just watching the sea, for longer than I know, was a treat.
Along the coast, I followed the trail leading back to the street. On my way to the sea and all the way back, I saw plenty of dogs with their humans. People choose any of the many trails and, walking with their pets, it’s an everyday exercise for the feet and a necessary trigger for regular bowel movement.
Smiling to myself, I couldn’t believe how wonderful the park was. The Fauntleroy park was the same. With countless trails, all starting and ending in different streets, both parks were a mystery to me. It didn’t take me long to realise I couldn’t ever explore all the trails. It left me in wonder, knowing there’s a world of eye candy so close to me, and yet so far. It was a lesson for life: you often have many options, and everything changes based on the path you choose.