Monday, May 14, 2012

A Walk in the Park: Greenwood Park

Who Goes Amid the Green Wood

Who goes amid the green wood
With springtide all adorning her?
Who goes amid the merry green wood
To make it merrier?

Who passes in the sunlight
By ways that know the light footfall?
Who passes in the sweet sunlight
With mien so virginal?

The ways of all the woodland
Gleam with a soft and golden fire -- -
For whom does all the sunny woodland
Carry so brave attire?

O, it is for my true love
The woods their rich apparel wear -- -
O, it is for my own true love,
That is so young and fair. 

by James Joyce

I had an awesome Mother's Day.  I don't have time to write much, so you'll get the abbreviated version.  (I guess it's your lucky day!  but as always, it remains to be seen whether what I eventually post will, in fact, be at all abbreviated.)

After church and a nice Mother's Day dinner, we relaxed.  We had plans to work outside, but the wind was gusting fiercely, which took some of the eagerness out of us.   Joe ended up taking a nap; I think I might have, too.  The kids played indoors and out.  John went for a bike ride (this is the first year he's old enough to ride on the highway.  He can only go a designated distance we can see from our front window; and not with others, who might distract him).  Some of the kids went for a walk in the fields adjacent to our house. The bigger kids finished up some of their weekend chores.

I was showered throughout the afternoon with the many little treasures Joe and my kids had prepared for me.

I had e-mail cards from Clara and Sophie; facebook greetings from Matt and Louisa.   I got a woodworking project Elsie made me in her shop class at school (I can't remember the politically appropriate name for the class that was formerly called "shop", so I'm sticking with that). Sophie gave me several projects.  John gave me some cups with grass and marigolds, started from seeds at school; and a chore contraption.  (It's a "bouquet" of tongue depressors, each with a little decorative top and a greeting of affection; these are contained in a paper plate vase like a bunch of flowers; Each one also has a little helping out task written along the "stem."  I can pick a "flower" and John will then do the chore that is written on the stem.  Pretty sweet.)  Stella brought me pretty rocks throughout the day.  Donna filled a little tin for me with "treasures" from among her possession.  Joe gave me a card in which part of the message had screwy font and so had to be decoded, as he put it, with a "super secret decoder ring." That's not really what he gave me, but it is true the card he made me got messed up at first, so we got a good joke out of that.  He really got me two pairs of earrings handmade by my friend Christine; and Christine included as a gift, a pair she custom made for me. 

So you see, I was quite literally showered with these wonderful tokens of love.

By evening, Louisa was itching to go to town to visit a friend, and the other kids had expressed a desire to "do something special" for Mother's Day.  So we had our traditional Sunday snacky supper.  Then we got everyone cleaned up enough for going in public, and loaded the van.  Matt stayed home.  He had worked a closing shift at Pizza Hut Saturday night and was still feeling the effects.  He offered to do dishes so we could get going sooner, and then he went to be early.

The rest of us headed into town to go for a walk at Greenwood Park.  This is a little secret place in Thief River Falls.  It's really not a secret, but it feels like one.  Along the Red Lake River, in between a couple of residential areas, and adjacent to one of the cemeteries, there is a little wooded area with walking trails.  Until a few years ago, it was on a dead end street that I believe was even gravel.  Then the city put a bridge across the river right there and added a paved parking lot.  So it's much less secret now then it used to be.

We parked the car and headed out.  We had called Jeremy to meet us there, which was an additional treat, since we don't' see him often enough.  Louisa's friend, Logan, was also meeting us, so Louisa and Elsie stayed with the van to wait for him.

Some of the other kids wanted to run ahead, but we asked them to stay with us, until we saw how the trail was.  Part of the trail runs right up against the river, so with all these little, busy, fast-moving bodies accompanying us, I wanted to see how things were before letting anyone run off alone.  I think they were disappointed at first that they couldn't just run.  But I'm quite sure they would all agree that we had a very nice time. 

The kids had fun picking wildflowers.  (I hope that's not illegal?)  We found purple, yellow and white of violets; some dainty white blossoms on lacy-looking stems (maybe a variety of baby's breath?); yellow gentian and trillium; and two other varieties of unidentified wildflower (I think one was ginseng, but I'm still checking up on that).  The kids found a bed of ferns, which most of them had never seen before, so they all grabbed clusters of fern fronds.  I am originally from the Puget Sound area of Washington State, very verdant and damp, with many, many ferns growing in any wild place.  I love the smell of ferns, so I drank in that fragrance (and memories of childhood) as the kids waved around their bouquets. 

Then we walked the grassland paths up above the river.  The kids enjoyed urnning ahead up there, racing back and forth, having rolling competitions, doing cartwheels and summersaults, and generally just being crazy kids.  We ended up finishing off by skirting the edge of the cemetery to get back to the parking lot.  Joe and some of the kids looked at some of the monuments.  They found one from a few years ago for a six month old baby.  Some of the kids left their bouquets there.  I thought that was very sweet of them.  It was precious to me to see such an expression of tenderness.

After we were done with our walk, we stopped at Hugo's and got push-ups and ice cream sandwiches for a treat.  Then we dropped Jeremy off and hit the road for home.

The whole way home I kept trying to remember some vague literary association I had with the word Greenwood.  I felt sure there was a poem that included that name.  I checked last night after all the kids were in bed and found there are actually three poems and several other uses of that word in literature.  None of the three poems sounded particularly familiar, so I'm not sure how I knew of it.   I included the one by James Joyce at the beginning because it talks about spring, and the springtime attire of a woodland. 

The others poems with that word are "Under the Greenwood Tree" by William Shakespeare, from As You Like It; and "Come to the Greenwood Tree" by William Makepeace Tackeray.

I see Under the Greenwood Tree is also part of the title of a novel by Thomas Hardy.  The full title is Under the Greenwood Tree or The Mellstock Quire: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School. That's quite a title.  I've read several of Hardy's books, but never heard of that one. 

And if those tidbits are not enough with the work Greenwood, early twentieth century writer, Sara Jane Lippincott wrote also under the name of Grace Greenwood.


madhenmom said...

Last winter I had watched the PBS movie based on Under the Greenwood Tree (same title). I had it in my head to recommend it to you - but I don't think I ever did. Nice, light-hearted period romance I think you'd like. I got my copy from the library, so hopefully you'll be able to do the same.

theMom said...

Thanks, I remember seeing a few references to that movie when I was searching. Do you know if it's based on the Hardy book? I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.