Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Walking through our Parks

Yesterday, after walking up the hill to dump our kitchen compost into the community compost pile, I took a stroll through Benton Hill Park. It was the best thing I did all day.

This is a 3.5-acre park with a variety of hackberry and oak trees, a pre-school playgound and a small shelter. There I was, alone with bushy-tailed squirrels, playful rabbits, sparrows, finches and fresh air, right in my own backyard. Benton Hill Park, founded by the city nearly 20 years ago, sits atop Prairie Hill Cohousing at the intersection of Benton Street and Miller Avenue.

I read somewhere that Iowa City has 50 parks. I am delighted that we see one of them when we look out our windows. It is one of the myriad benefits of living in the Iowa City Cohousing community. Having moved from Northern California six months ago, I was drawn by the idea of having a park nearby, but I didn't realize how easy it would be to be in nature.

We have enjoyed several two-mile walks around the lake at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, a five-minute drive from our home. And, in the past week or so, we have been exploring Willow Creek Park, off Benton Street. The winding and wide walking trails seem to be endless and offer walks across the creek on several small bridges.

This morning's walk there was glorious because of the warm sun and the canopy of trees brightened by yellow, red and orange leaves. And, we made a new discovery -- the oak sculptures created by Russian artist Valery Kovalev, who visited Iowa City a number of times in the 1990's, A plaque there explains that the five Willow Creek sculptures represent just a portion of the work he left here.

The most evocative of the sculptures is titled "Zoya," a tribute to Zoya Anatolyevna Kosmodemyanskaya, a revered martyr of the Soviet Union, who gave her life fighting the Nazi Army during World War II. The sculpture was donated to the people of Iowa City by Khristofor and Marianna Agassandian.

We also came across a stone tribute to donors and volunteers who have contributed to Iowa City's Hospice program, situated in a shady grove also featuring rose bushes.

It's as if Iowa City's parks are calling to us to meander through and find our way to more treasures.

We are having a great time living and working at Prairie Hill Cohousing. We have helped others move in, planted trees and weeded by the hour shoulder-to-shoulder with our neighbors. And, we are learning that only minutes away, endless new adventures in nature are waiting.

John Bowman

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