Goodbyes are hard. After 11+ years, I am leaving the neighborhood around Van Horn Park, ending my daily walks here. I take with me memories…
– of exquisite trees – with needles, leaves and bare
– of delicate blooms and scents
– of sacred encounters with wild things
– of fine and caring people I met on that loop around the pond.
However, I can’t leave off without stating a bitter truth, – my observations of nature here record the steady decline in environmental quality, species diversity and population size. This is bad news, not only for wildlife, but for human beings who call Springfield home, too.
During these years, the City of Springfield could have acted to prevent and reverse degradation at Van Horn and other city parks, – no money, no capital required. The parks department could, today, just stop doing bad things like this:
– Using high-decibel, gas-powered blowers to move leaves along a wooded walk… and to push roadside trash into the ponds… and to send dirt, pollen and other respiratory irritants into the air. — Walks are spoiled, health is compromised, and waters are wantonly despoiled. Park visitors are not offended by leaves on the ground. On the other hand, trash ignored by work crews is deeply offensive to everyone.
– Snow plowing (with heavy, noisy, polluting machinery) walking areas closed to vehicle traffic (including Saturdays, Sundays & regardless of melting temperatures in the weather forecast. — People want clear streets and sidewalks in winter. Keep tractors and trucks out of the park; this practice disturbs wildlife, erodes soil, and creates dangerous icy conditions for walkers.
– Random removal of trees (and undergrowth). — With the exception of trees that block or threaten to fall across a roadway, cutting trees is thoughtless despoliation. Any removal should be balanced by replanting native species.
In prior posts, I’ve noted other cities, blessed with wise, visionary and committed leaders, have stepped up to the responsibility of environmental stewardship, and their people will enjoy improvements to health and quality of life. Springfield has not been so blessed.
I don’t expect to see thoughtful and sustainable management of precious, public , green space in my lifetime, but I nurture hope that I will live to see the city stop some of the waste, pollution and destruction.
So, farewell my Van Horn Park friends and readers. I wish you quiet walks in fresh air, greenery to soothe your eyes and songs of birds to lift your heart.