Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Green space: how to find a bit of quiet in a global city

September 19, 2010 · No Comments

The thing about a city is you always end up missing the country and the thing about the country is you always end up missing the city. This paradox is one of the reasons I’ve been happily tucked away in a suburb for most of my life (I was born in Culver City, but we left Los Angeles before I had turned four)- give me access to the things in the city that I want but with the quiet and amenities only the country can provide.

London, however, has found a better solution to the need for getting away from the city: the plethora of parks and green space that dot the metropolis like a leaky pen on super-absorbent Bounty roll. I don’t understand the psychology of it, but there’s something about having a park, “a bit of earth” as the musical The Secret Garden says, that calms the human mind. Having somewhere to walk your dog, go for a run, bicycle around, take the kids roller-skating, have a picnic, read a book, whatever you wish, somehow relieves the pressures of city life.  How the park-goers cope with inclement weather, I’ve yet to observe, but I know just finding “somewhere that’s green” (again, a musical reference – Little Shop of Horrors- I’m just on a roll tonight!) is seemingly vital to the psyche of any Londoner.

I began to feel this pull toward the park myself when I was heading over to visit the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace. I exited the Tube at the aptly-named Green Park station and discovered myself to be in the midst of an enormous, sprawling park, heavily populated with people (mostly families) spending the day outside and enjoying the weather. Touched by the idyllic scene, I snapped a photo and then starting heading over to the Palace. After turning one or two corners, it was as if I had travelled to a different world instead of only walking further away from the park. The peace and tranquility of the community park was replaced with loud, overexcited tourists, all eagerly clamouring for a photo of the Palace and/or the guards. People continually bumped into me as I tried to get to the Gallery and I had to look around me at all angles to make sure I didn’t step into anyone’s photos.

Viewing the gorgeous art at the Gallery refreshed me slightly but, after fighting my way back through the crowds around the Palace gate’s, I stopped in Green Park to take a breather before heading into the congestion and confinement of the Tube station.

Where to find peace? Green Park!

A young woman might have once needed a room with a view in Italy, but I began to understand just how much the English need their room and green views [see what I did there?]

Categories: 2010 Elizabeth
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