In my last article, I wrote a soliloquy of City Park, and of the owls hoo have received much notoriety in recent weeks. This week I ran across the Fox River via the College Ave bridge to visit Telulah Park, home to a much larger 27-acre complex with soccer and baseball fields, a train engine, a disc golf course, a short hilly hiking/mountain biking trail, 3 sheltered picnic areas, a skate park and, of course, a playground.
Upon first glance, this park seems like a weird mix of grass fields, foreboding old trees, and human constructions, but after walking around for a while, it truly does start to feel welcoming in spite of its flat grandeur. Starting from the southwest side of the Newberry Trail, one encounters the start of the disc golf course, where the gracefulness of human motion is on full display in the ballet-style close-range putt shots. The golfer leans forward, arm extended at the end of the shot, while the opposite leg counterbalances, happening at the speed and gracefulness of a ballet dancer, center of gravity still intact, poise and strength evident throughout the body. To see the silence and excitement that disc golf brings to people in solitude or in groups is remarkable, but that remains only one of many ways to enjoy this park.
To view a complete list of Appleton parks, click here.
Those who value history can read the plaque over by the old train engine car “Number 736” and read of the statistics that cite its working life as traveling almost three million miles! Those who love playgrounds should probably stick to City Park, which has more platforms and bigger swings. For those who love playing sports without having to compete with Whiting Field’s practice schedule conflicts, this park offers you the space to be informal and fun.
Like in other parks, I’m often perplexed by why I’m drawn to the park for the nature, space or facilities it offers, but the reason I stay and enjoy the space is through my interactions with fellow humans. Maybe I’m just too much of an extrovert, but this has happened too frequently for me to consider this uncoincidental. While at City Park, I ran into professors, extended family and even photographers who became friends. While at Telulah Park, I ran into a family friend I hadn’t seen in three years, and I’ll likely find one of my on-campus skateboarding friends hitting up the skate park to ride the ramps. Even while I worked at Grand Teton National Park this summer, I found myself remembering more of the stories of meeting my fellow hikers and climbers along their journey than of describing sunsets and the views from the mountaintop. It seems ironic that I seek to avoid people by going to a park, but then end up having a good time by interacting with like-minded people at the park or have the unfortunately common experience of having people disturb your experience of the park by littering, being unnecessarily loud or profane, or mistreating fellow wildlife or vegetation.
Since I suppose you want to enjoy the park (with or without direct interaction with others), go and safely enjoy the beauty of these spaces, and do the responsible thing and pick after yourself and others as you seek to be a good steward of these public spaces we all enjoy. Take only pictures, leave only footprints, and don’t be afraid to say “hi” to some fellow travelers you meet along the way.