July is Park and Recreation Month, a time to be grateful for the service provided by parks. During the pandemic, parks became places of comfort to roam freely in the open air, congregate with others, and satisfy the urge to travel to local scenic places without worry. This month, the National Recreation And Park Association is partnering with renowned poet and bestselling author, Kwame Alexander, to create "a community poem - one poem compiled from many voices". They would like to hear "community's stories about what their local parks and recreation mean to them".
I decided to join in the fun and write a poem in appreciation for the service offered by my local park in Long Island where I lived prior to moving to Northern Virginia in mid-March. As one voice among many, I offer my thoughts for the poetry challenge fully described at Park and Recreation Month: Our Community Poem. From the many poems and inspirational thoughts offered, Kwame will craft an original community poem to be shared online at the end of the month. The challenge requires using the prompt, "Everything around you is." Submissions are due by tomorrow, July 9, 2021.
Our Community Park
Everything around you is bathed in beauty.
Gentle morning light shines across majestic trees.
Visitors perambulate through expansive spaces.
A whiff of smoke scents picnic grounds.
Ducks wade across a diamond-studded lake,
Glistening in the breeze while birds circle the sky.
As a place of comfort, you welcome travelers to your grounds to
Breathe in the scent of pine, find peace and solace, congregate
With family and friends, walk through scenic woods, and commune
With nature in the great outdoors. You gather untold stories. Discard
Thoughts hindering spiritual growth, and leave visitors refreshed.
Everything around you is soon to blossom from a deep pandemic sleep.
While searching for inspirational thoughts, I found this quote by Toni Morrison that offers a new perspective for pondering: At some point in life, the world's beauty becomes enough. I paused. reflected, and wrote another poem using Marilyn Nelson's poem, Weir Farm, as a mentor text. In a short video that can be found here or on YouTube, Kwame Alexander suggested researching Marilyn's poem. Her line "Feel the welcome of small particulars," resonated with me as a self-care recipe for living. It suggests taking a closer look at life by observing the small details and savoring the moments, a notion particularly suited for today's return to a partial normalcy way of life.
Everything around you is nature-scented.
Step onto earth's welcoming paths.
Feel a closeness with life:
the felled log, a home for small insects
the leaves strewn across the horse trail.
With a fresh look and perspective, see
orange bittersweet and berries popping,
daylight shadows playing in the sun.
Find a detour along the trail.
Walk down a small slope to the lake
where a log becomes a bench.
Listen to the quiet laps lulling earth,
Let nature paint a world of tranquility
bringing back a sense of calm to life
Be at peace in a new normal world.
Everything around you is touched
by nature's ever-loving hands.
Please join me in celebrating our local parks.
Tell your community's story about what your local parks and recreation mean to you.
Be sure to submit your poem here by tomorrow, July 9, 2021.
If inclined, also post on social media.
Twitter: @NRPA_news, #OurParkAndRecStory, @kwamealexander. Instagram: @NRPA
Carol. what a pleasure to perambulate (love that word!) through your park with two beautiful poems and sumptuous photos. I love the concept of the community poem, and the way that parks have given some solace in really difficult times.ReplyDelete
The parks have been a gift during the pandemic. It was our place to walk without fear of contamination. I took many photos as I walked so I can remember the winter of our discontent.Delete
Even before COVID (it was the drought that sparked it for me) I came to the realisation that every community needs a green zone, or a waterway. They are restful, restorative places. Even (and especially) in drought, communities needs that place of beauty and tranquility - to breath in freshness and exhale stress. And yes, 'feel a closeness with life'.ReplyDelete
I love this project. (And like Sally, I am taken with perambulate.)
Kat, your comment is full of poetic goodness so thanks for stopping by. It is so good to communicate with you. I hope on your camping trip you breathed in freshness and exhaled stress.Delete
Love the line about "soon to blossom from a deep pandemic sleep." So full of hope! Thank you for sharing your parks with us. xoReplyDelete
Hope is what we need now to go full steam ahead into the new normal. No masks around those vaccinated is a huge step. Happy Summering with hopes we all blossom after our long Pandemic sleep.Delete
Carol, thank you. Your park poems bring serenity and hope. They are lovely. How did you decide which to send? Or were you able to send both? I love the way you speak directly to the park in your first poem. "You gather untold stories." Definitely!ReplyDelete
I sent the first poem out and then later wrote the second one so I sent that separately, Denise. If you write a poem and send it out use the hashtags so NRPA sees it. I was told by the communications officer that their organization will retweet my tweets for publication purposes.Delete
"Let nature paint a world of tranquility..." beautiful! Thank you, Carol, for this lovely thought, and for sharing "feel the welcome of small particulars." Your poems and images brighten my day...ReplyDelete
Glad that you liked what I wrote, Karen. I am waiting to see the final community poem that Kwame Alexander will pen from the many submissions NRPA will receive.Delete
What a beautiful, beautiful post. Those places in nature that refresh and restore us are so special. I love the quote from Toni Morrison. I need to think on that some more. I love the, "be at peace" message especially in your second poem. Yes, please. Let's be at peace with nature and each other.ReplyDelete
Thank you for stopping by, Linda. I thought you would be off for another adventure. I am glad that you did visit my site and see this wonderful invitation to write about our love for parks. We did go to Bull Run in Haymarket and were amazed by those sacred grounds. We want to visit other parks so let me know what you recommend. We also saw Great Falls Park a few years ago. That was enjoyable and the rapids beautiful.Delete
Thanks for sharing this call from Kwame and your beautiful responses. I was part of one of his community poems. I love the concept and he always pulls everything together brilliantly. Reminds me of our line by line progressive poem in April.ReplyDelete
Aw, so nice, both of these! As a kid, my Brooklyn-raised husband went to Y day camp at Hempstead STATE Park, which must have been nearby.ReplyDelete
My husband grew up in Brooklyn, Susan. It is a small world that his Y camp was at the park in my former community. We just moved to Virginia and there are many parks to frequent here.Delete
I love this line, "Everything around you is soon to blossom from a deep pandemic sleep." We are experiencing a non-nature springtime of rebirth post-pandemic, aren't we?ReplyDelete
Parks have been a saving grace this last year! I enjoyed the popping image: With a fresh look and perspective, seeReplyDelete
orange bittersweet and berries popping,
daylight shadows playing in the sun.
Thank you for the quote by Toni Morrison, too! It's so lovely.
Your love and appreciation of the nature around you shines through both your poems. Reading them was a dose of serenity. I love that quote, "Feel the welcome of small particulars." You so often capture that in your nature poetry and images. Lovely post!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Molly. I was able to capture the moon last night for today’s slice.Delete