IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, after visiting Bridge Square in Northfield and Morehouse Park in Owatonna, I’ve thought about what makes a great community gathering place. When considering a spot for a picnic or simply a place to relax, what do I seek?
Water. Whether a river or a fountain or a lake, water tops my list. There’s something about water that soothes, that eases life’s worries. I’m not a water sports person. But I love the sound of rushing water like that of the Straight River roaring over the dam in Morehouse Park or the fountain spraying in Bridge Square, just across the street from the Cannon River.
Water offers a place to wish, to think or not, to fish, to canoe, to observe nature. Still as geese gliding. Hopeful as pennies tossed into a fountain. Turbulent water tumbling over rocks as calming as white noise.
I also want a park that’s aesthetically pleasing, clean, green, obviously cared for and appreciated.
In Morehouse Park, generous baskets of petunias suspended from a pedestrian bridge make a statement that says this community cares. The park is a busy place with a trail winding through that draws bikers, skaters, walkers and photographers like me.
At Bridge Square, the fountain entices all ages to perch beside the water, to rest on benches, to purchase popcorn from the popcorn wagon.
In both parks I feel a sense of community, of closeness in appreciating a beautiful spot in the heart of a city. There’s a certain vibrancy, a rhythm, a definitive weaving of people and place.
And that is what I seek in a park. Not just a picnic table under a tree. But a certain sense of belonging, of connecting with nature and community on a Minnesota summer day.
BONUS PHOTOS from Sunday afternoon at Morehouse Park:
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling