Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Greenway Park

I really hadn’t any specific expectations when I planned this little outing, other than figuring to come upon a fairly pedestrian neighborhood playground nestled in the midst of this (to most of the rest of the universe, anyway) upscale neighborhood. Greenway Park gave me a nice surprise that morning, even though I must have driven by the place numerous times in my decades of living just a couple of miles from the place; you see – adjacent to the manicured lawn and children’s play area, I followed one of the narrow paths leading into the woody, tangled swamp which – to all appearances – hadn’t sustained a blow from an axe or trim from a lawnmower, at least since the completion of the surrounding development.

The early sunshine had gotten the local birds out of bed, and it seemed the redwing blackbirds, cardinals and sparrows either welcomed my presence or cursed my existence – or maybe they were just glad to be alive – their feathery orchestra kept at it the whole of my excursion; I was quite taken aback, though by something a little more ‘wild’: the presence of enough deer tracks to indicate a small herd was using the overgrown acreage as a shelter for at least part of their daily schedule (even the mere representation of something this large and totally undomesticated has always been irresistible to me)– and I imagined a pretty good assortment of other critters among the fertile, muddy undergrowth as I made my way around the wet, sunken center of this natural little oasis. Now, as nice and refreshing and stimulating as I found this cool, early-morning walk (just a bit out of the living-room safety zone) – I admit that I was very thankful to be enjoying that very pivotal time of year prior to wood tick worries and the accompaniment of squadrons of mosquitos; so, no – I don’t think you’ll find me in that jungle-like environment during anything like the height of ‘bug season.’

I did find myself thinking, though, “Boy! How cool is it, that – in the heart of Northern Virginia, where every square inch of land seemingly must account for some kind of profit for someone – that sufficient (and sufficiently sensitive) foresight was given to allow this small, but precious little area to ‘go wild,’ for Mother Nature to have at it for all she’s worth?” And, if you want to answer the question for yourself, you can find Greenway Park just off Greenway Drive and Shadetree Way in Southwest Leesburg – a bit west of the intersection of Meade Drive and South King Street; you can park your car in the little lot, walk down the gentle slope and look for the informal walking trail into the woods – just stay out of the water and look out for thorny branches and brambles – many – as I palpably discovered – at about eye level.

You just may find what you need for what ails you in there. I often have, in these types of places.

And, so – having left my house that morning expecting to find nothing but an assortment of well-kept, modern playground equipment and some adjacent public open space, the conditions in Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia proved otherwise, and offered a new discovery of adventure – right in the heart of modern civilization; now, I probably spent less than 30 minutes in those swampy woods, and walked a total of maybe three-quarters of a mile, but it seemed much more expansive in both space and time. It’s often occurred to me that there may be something, after all, to the effect produced in certain (often) small, magical places scattered across the geography of our lives – elaborated upon quite eloquently by that highly unconventional author, Ambrose Bierce, in his story “The Difficulty in Crossing a Field.’ No – I’ve never disappeared while exploring our various local vortexes, but – after living in these parts the better part of 20 years, very little would surprise me. Not much, that is – except things like finding a wild, little place where I may not have predicted to locate one – like Greenway Park.

So – in answer to my earlier question about the choice for setting this acreage aside for wild things – I would reply, “Yes, Virginia, it’s Very cool, indeed.”

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