Pre-Spring Highland Park

“Between melting and freezing
The soul’s sap quivers.”
– T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

The weather on Sunday was so beautiful that when I finally went out to the park with my camera and new tripod, I left my coat in the car. Spring hasn’t really hit, although as you can see from my pictures, snowdrops have risen. Everything was very squishy and wet, and somehow I managed to restrain myself better than usual from going ahead and walking through the mud.

As I went around the park, I kind of had Myst on the brain. For me, it’s not too hard, as parts of Highland Park gets close to the scenery of my favorite places: the Myst games, New Hampshire, and Sweden. The sudden hills and valleys covered in beautiful conifers and muffled by loads of pine needles seem like they must be hiding a secret entrance to some other world, if I could just look behind the right trunk. Cresting a hill or coming around a bend in the path I feel like I might be entering some Narnia-like place from which I’ll return years later with a sword and many adventures.

First I was greeted near my parking place by the side of a building (which might have been the restrooms?), overshadowed by trees. Ugly as it was in another frame of mind, it reminded me of some outlet pipes from Riven with its heavy rust and stains and dappled sunshine, curtained off by a tree.

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Climbing the hill I found what would have been the perfect spot, except for all the darn cars driving around the bottom of it. Nonetheless, I think that with some houses strung between the trees, it could pass for some part of Channelwood.

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I feel like Myst really influences the way I see the world around me, when I take the time to look. Since very little of the stories are told verbally, the games have to find ways to show the nature of the places through imagery. Often if you take the time while playing, you’re treated to wonderful little signs that these worlds are not our planet, but rather some other place with other culture and creatures:

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I don’t really know how to describe it well, but it leads me to go around looking at things like I’m looking for signs that I’m actually in a fantasy world too. Either that or looking for clues as to how to get that darn door open!

Although I love the science and exploration presented in the games, like one of my classmates who studied astrophysics before transferring into new media, at some point I realized real science did not involve enough make-believe for me. I like deluding myself that if I pretend hard enough, I might find out I’m living on Riven or the Enterprise or something.

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The only thing that seemed ready for spring were the snowdrops.

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This old hive was awesome, I was excited to get such a good glimpse of the honeycomb pattern inside. With the wind waving its tree branches, the hive seemed like a remnant of winter, rags from last year caught in the tree.

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All the bends in the paths around the park fascinate me. I’m always compelled to take pictures of paths bending out of sight, regardless of whether they will make pretty pictures. I think there’s always this sense in my mind that if I take the right picture, when I come back to it I might be able to walk through it and this time when I go around the bend, it will lead somewhere cooler than through a bunch of rhododendrons. Yes, I’m weird. I might be a little obsessed.

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Continuing the theme, I’m pretty sure those footprints were made by fairies or some adventurer coming back from fantasy-land. I particularly liked the sunlight streaming down their path.

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The somewhat more heathery side of the park provides a totally different feeling but I think there is still plenty of room for my imagination:

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Sadly I didn’t see any squirrels to terrorize.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate…”

– T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

2 Responses to “Pre-Spring Highland Park”

  1. Elaine Rockett
    | Reply

    Ellen, a particularly nice entry. I have always loved your use of imagination and am happy to see you expressing it. Your use of the quotes is very nice. I almost expect to find myself cradled by stars.

    • ellen
      | Reply

      Thanks, I’m glad you like it. I’m starting to get quite a list of places to visit around here, so there may be some others like it coming up in the next months, although I don’t usually like to write so much about my overactive imagination. That last quote from T.S. Eliot is probably one of my favorite chunks of poetry ever, for precisely that reason, that duality of coming to a place you’ve already been and learning it anew.

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