Once upon a time, there was a park here. Nothing extraordinary – a semi-wild suburban space with trees, and unkempt grass. A pocket forest of mature maples and oaks with uphill path un-cleared of fallen branches. Namesake creek wandered through, widening to pools for schools of fishes, or deepening for muskrat, large snapping turtles, ducks and wading birds. Even tiny acrobat crawfish danced around rocks and tiny ripples. Narrowing to burble and croon as tiny rapids. Bird song filled spaces between branches: “death rattle” of kingfishers; migrating warblers sweetening Spring; pops, peeps, calls, cries of cardinals, blue jays, orioles, red-wing black birds. Some warblers stayed, joined later by hummingbirds as the banks of jewel weed – orangy-yellow flowers like tiny upside down orchards – came into bloom. Mockingbirds took on the songs of them all. Hawks maneuvered, vultures hovered. Families of groundhogs – even a grouping of dark, almost black ones – trundled about. Rabbits nibbled, squirrels squealed, chipmunks posed, knowing just how cute they looked. Not idyll but  breathing space. Place to watch nature unfold from creek side, old stone “bridge” span, crashed down in the middle, or aging street bridge, semi-paths. Seasons: myriad greens of spring, summer flowers, rich golds and reds of fall, gaunt branches of winter.

Gone. Progress, or rather retrogress, supposedly, back to when the park was created in the 1930s. This meant all but a couple of mature trees were cut down, replaced by saplings, of which only a few have survived. Hillsides terraced with ugly stone, planted with bushes that neither thrive not bloom. Paths paved with asphalt. Shape and nature of creek altered – dredged, straightened, de-natured. Left the old stone span – now part of huge drainage pipe. Certain tree cutting business, certain contractor, certain “landscape engineer” profited greatly. As did some politicians no doubt.

Part of the park could have been made people-friendly, and part remained nature friendly. Now a non-natural dog-walk, kids-in-stroller park, power-walking park. Complete with unused “exercise” stations. Either/or. Couldn’t be both – not in the minds of the politicians who made the decision to denature the place. No compromise, no public input. County land, so town said nothing. Now, county wants to remove all the grass from adjoining ball park/soccer fields, and replace it with artificial turf. Suddenly, town cries, “But wait – what about the benefits of grass, of the natural, the real.” Joni Mitchel sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone/They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Or in this case, lay Astroturf.

The decision to pull America out of the Paris Climate Pact came on the day Michael’s Tale Weaver prompt was about parks. An all or nothing proposition. Well, I soap-boxed. I’m sorry. I do go to my once upon a park and guerrilla garden – planting native wildflower seeds. It took several years before I could go without feeling so upset over the loss. Bird populations are declining anyways, and with the loss of the park habitat, we’ve noticed it in our back garden. Migrating warblers aren’t like spring flowers in the overhanging oaks. Regular visitors to our feeders are now rare. At the park, few groundhogs, no turtles, muskrats, flotilla of ducklings.

But today is also the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. There are three Strawberry Fields: that of the song, a park that still exists in Liverpool, England and a section of Central Park in New York City in honour of John Lennon. So with no further ado, Strawberry Fields, Forever.

Let me take you down,
’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real,
And nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

Living is easy with eyes closed,
Misunderstanding all you see.
It’s getting hard to be someone,
But it all works out;
It doesn’t matter much to me.

Let me take you down,
’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real,
And nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

No one I think is in my tree,
I mean, it must be high or low.
That is, you can’t, you know, tune in,
But it’s all right.
That is, I think it’s not too bad.

Let me take you down,
’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real,
And nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

Living is easy with eyes closed,
Misunderstanding all you see.
It’s getting hard to be someone,
But it all works out;
It doesn’t matter much to me.

Let me take you down,
’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real,
And nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

Always know, sometimes think it’s me.
But you know, I know when it’s a dream.
I think a “No,” I mean a “Yes,”
But it’s all wrong.
That is, I think I disagree.

Let me take you down,
’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real,
And nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever. Strawberry Fields forever,
Strawberry Fields forever, Strawberry Fields forever.

The song was written by John Lennon and attributed to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership.

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