Sunday, June 9, 2013

life as a walk in the park


One fine morning a few days ago I remembered to take my camera with me when we went for one of our regular walks through the park. Although Point Pleasant isn't the biggest city park I've ever known well, it's certainly big enough, and wild enough, to give the impression you have much of it to yourself. In fact, that's often pretty close to true. Even though every path will eventually take you to the shore, it's quite possible to wander for hours and never see the sea. Anyway, the ones above are a few of the pictures I took as we walked along a meandering uphill path between granite outcrops and a watery marsh where the frogs were making rude noises.


When you're far away from city sounds it's easy to imagine other places and different times. Of course, it goes without saying that most of us would be hard pressed to get by in the world as it was a century or more ago; we've become very used to our conveniences even when they aren't as convenient as we might prefer. Still, there are a few out of the way places where people continue to live in much the way they did long ago. One of those places is also in India, in the northeast where a rainfall that can often be measured in yards rather than inches, requires sturdy bridges.



In a place like Cherrapunji, India, living bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree. Long ago the people who lived there saw the possibility of growing bridges across the valley's many rivers by guiding the fast growing roots in the right direction through hollowed out betel nut trunks. Once a root reached the opposite side it was allowed to establish itself in the ground. The root bridges, some of which are more than 100 ft long, take 10 to 15 years to be fully functional, but they're very strong - strong enough to support the weight of 50 or more people. Better still, because they grow stronger as the years go by many of these bridges are more than 500 years old.

I'd love to walk across one of these but since getting there would provide serious difficulties, I'll just have to content myself with imagining one next time I'm on a very narrow path on a sunny day. There are more excellent pictures by Timothy Allen and a story about his journey there on Human Planet.

16 comments:

marja-leena said...

How wonderful to have such a 'wild' park for a walk not far from home. I love the brilliant sunshine in the trees and those rocks. The fourth photo with all those amazing tree roots above ground seems like from a different place, so I'm assuming that must be in India too, like the last one. The living bridges really are a work of art, nature's and man's together. I think I saw a bridge like that in an Asian film a while back but can't remember its name now.

susan said...

It has become a favorite place with different vistas depending on the route and the time of year. Summer or winter, we always finish by walking along the shore.

I just made a slight correction to the text so the next person who comes by doesn't think we have a living bridge in our local park. Thanks for pointing that out. The man whose page I linked to was the first western photographer to visit the area. A crew did make a film that played on the BBC (which I couldn't find) that may have been the one you saw. It really is a beautiful place.

Rob-bear said...

I can well and truly understand your fascination and kinship with this park, susan. A bit of "non-city" in the city. I trust crow is also suitable impressed. Life is a walk in the park; just watch out of snakes, skunks, and racoons!

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting, Life in the Urban Forest (poetry).

David Oliver said...

The first two photos, at a glance, look like my driveway! I had never heard of bridges built that way but think it was a clever solution to what looks like a difficult problem to solve.

gfid said...

So lovely and green, your park. May this summer provide many perfect days for long walks to enjoy it. .... A living bridge makes so much sense! It will never deteriorate with time, but instead grow,stronger!

Tom said...

I particularly like the title of this post, "Life As a Walk in the Park". It seems to me that there are certainly inconveniences to deal with, but also wayside seats on which we may sit and rest awhile. And as we continue on our life's journey, trails and subsidiary paths will match ours for a while, before leaving to continue in their chosen directions. During those moments we may engage with each other, and glory in those contacts. In the end, all paths lead to home.

susan said...

When we arrived here we were both surprised by just how much bigger it appears inside than on the maps we'd viewed. Then again, it's never the map that's real, is it?

There are signs posted about what to do if you're approached by a coyote but we've never seen any wild animals other than squirrels. The rest appear to stay safely outside the city limits.

susan said...

In these parts a driveway like this would be a hazard in winter but certainly pretty right now. Yes, the living bridges there were an ingenious solution to a local problem.

susan said...

You're right about that, my friend. It's a place we're happy to walk through even on imperfect days.

I agree about the bridges. It's just too bad the methodology only works in in particularly peculiar circumstances.

susan said...

I'm glad you noticed that, Tom, as those were exactly the lines I was thinking along. A favorite notion I've found in a number of mystic traditions is that there are as many paths to God as there are people.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I would love to take a walk in your park up north :) I love getting out of my building, my head, my thoughts, and into the natural world around me. The world of trees, flowers, birds, the sunshine, the stars and moon above--the natural world, are a balm to my soul.

The foot bridges in India are really cool!

susan said...

I'm sure you'd love the walks around here too and we'd certainly enjoy your company. There are benefits to apartment living but it's painful not having a garden of your own. Being outside is a balm - I think the crows and squirrels wonder why we go back inside.

You're right about those bridges.

Anonymous said...

That looks very much like the parks we have in a few of the Chicago Metro area, minus the slashers and gangs in waiting for a little "knock out game". Other than that, yup, looks pretty peaceful!

Nunly

susan said...

Nice to see you again, Nunly. I must have lived in the US too long because there's always a part of me surprised to see walking and running alone. Yes, the place is peaceful.

CherryPie said...

That looks a lovely place to go walking and the bridge is fascinating :-) I have never heard of a living bridge before.

I have Sean to thank for pointing this delightful post out to me.

susan said...

The park here is very nice indeed, except in deep winter when it can be treacherous. I was also delighted to find the living bridges - amazing, aren't they?

Thanks so much for coming by and regards to our mutual friend :)