Okay, I have to admit it: I have a little bit of writer’s block at the moment. I had been hoping to respond in chronological order to these “June Jour” prompts F.C. has been putting out so far this month. However, I’m a little bit stumped to think of responses to a couple of them. Oh, I do have an idea on a response to at least one of them, but I’m thinking I want to really stretch it out a little bit. So, I’ll jump ahead to this prompt F.C. put out that inquires about “a place or sanctuary where you like to go to ‘get away’ from everything.”
Well, where do I go to “get away”? Well, here’s a photo of that spot from a few years ago:
Okay, so a photo of a hiking trail doesn’t float your boat? Well, then, how about this view?
Both of these pics are of spots at a city park near my neighborhood, Owen Park. As the City of Madison website describes it, Owen Park was once “the farm and personal retreat” of Edward T. Owen, a University of Wisconsin professor. Today, it is under the ownership of the city’s parks division.
Owen Park isn’t the largest park in the city; indeed, it’s not even the largest on the west side (Elver Park holds the distinction in both categories). But it’s certainly a beautiful attraction with its 97-acre size, 3.4 miles of trails, and a combination of prairie and savanna settings that make it a real jewel of beauty that’s not too far away. Heck, it’s literally within walking distance of where I live. And if the outside world is really getting to me, and if the time and weather are just right, I’ll take a stroll up the way to take in Owen Park’s serenity and let it wash away my worries and difficulties for a while.
You get the idea from both photos that conservation is a real key in Owen Park’s design and development. Numerous plant and animal life can be found in the park. A centerpiece of Owen Park, aside from the hiking trails, are a trio of man-made ponds that attract not only stormwater but wildlife. (The bottom photo shows one of those ponds.) Before the ponds were completed in 2008, tons of water and sediment would move from the park down an eroded channel into the city’s large lake system. Yeah, sediment isn’t always good for the lakes. Now, some of that water stays in Owen Park, fostering growth of aquatic plants and attraction of shorebirds and herons.
But with the water, there’s also land of course. And the top photo is a perfect representation of not only Owen Park’s trails but also its prairie setting. I mean, just look at that upward slope. You wouldn’t know that there’s a residential neighborhood on the other side of that slope and those trees (and more urban setting beyond that). But there’s a feeling that this prairie just goes on and on as you look northward in the photo. It’s a feeling that strikes me every time I venture into Owen Park, whatever the season or the weather may be (even on a very warm day in early fall, when these pics were taken).
But don’t take my word for it. Check out these photos of Owen Park on the city’s Flickr feed. Better yet, if you’re in the Madison area, make it a point to come over to the west side, hike its hills and trails, and take in the real beauty. It’s a true gem of natural beauty within Madison’s city limits.