Daily Archives: February 15, 2010

Serendipity and a Park Bench

Last week’s snowstorms affected the Carnegie Library’s users and staff alike.  In today’s guest post, Richard reflects upon his brush with what many are calling The Blizzard of 2010.

Given the week we’ve just had, after spending several hours out in the snow you could be excused if you thought I was going to bring up Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”.  I’m not; I’m more in mind of Neil Diamond.

"What a beautiful noise comin' up from the street."

I happen to be fortunate in that I live across from one of Pittsburgh’s gems: Highland Park.  The park, which opened in 1893, is a natural wonder overlooking the Allegheny River (as well as my house), and certainly makes it hard to believe that my corner of the Highland Park neighborhood is really within city limits.  On Tuesday I was able to get out and try some less-than-serious cross-country skiing on both the unplowed streets and in the park itself.  By not plowing down to the asphalt, Pittsburgh Public Works provided me with the perfect skiing surface– not roadway, and not two feet of powder more appropriate for snowshoes.

I spent about two hours early Tuesday evening in and around the park, almost alone, but not quite.  It wasn’t bucolic; I wasn’t making the first tracks on virgin snow, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t need to:  I’ve done that before.

This was an urban experience — hence the reference to Neil Diamond.  I was thinking of his 1976 song Beautiful Noise.  I was skiing above Bunker Hill Road, which is not normally a quiet country lane.  For three days, though, there had been no buses and few plows, and only the foolish or eternally optimistic had taken their chances going up or down.

"What a beautiful noise comin' up from the park."

During my sojourn there were just enough buses and cars off to the side to remind me where I was without disturbing me…and in a way, the interruptions were reassuring.  In the park itself there were two or three other people and the falling snow.  As I was trying to stay on relatively packed areas — trails imply a deliberate “from here to there,” and that wasn’t the case — I came across two snow-covered park benches placed under a copse of two or three pine trees.  They were arranged in such a way that the trees afforded some protection from the falling snow, and the panorama of the restored fountain was open before them.

They were perfectly alluring, and we owe a modest amount of gratitude to

"It's a beautiful noise made of joy and of strife."

whoever placed them there, whether deliberately or just because it seemed like a good place.  I’ll make sure to go back and check them out in the spring and summer, when the sounds of the street are a little clearer.

–Richard

"Like a symphony played by the passing parade, it's the music of life."

All photos copyright 2010, RK.  Used with permission.

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