Walking Journal / Walking

Walk 3 – Gnadinger Park

. 3 min read . Written by Russell Smith
Walk 3 – Gnadinger Park

Nature thrived – even in Louisville's smallest park

Louisville’s smallest park run by the city government – 1300 square feet. It seemed offbeat to take a walk in nature in this tiny triangle. We think of nature as an expansive force and yet I loved this walk.

And walk I did. I walked the border of the park. I walked around three trees – two quite large. The third stretched out its arms in a strange Y motion, seeking the life-enriching rays of the sun out of the reach of one of the larger trees. I walked on the grass and the brick walkway. Back and forth, up and down, zig and zag – almost like whisking a bowl of matcha tea. More than a quarter of a mile in this compact green.

The patches of grass contained quite large rugs of clovers. It brought to mind the beautiful eulogy my friend Sara Campbell wrote for her mother: “On any given day, she could go outside and almost immediately find a four leaf clover. It was uncanny.” I looked for a four leaf clover, but didn’t have her mother’s luck.

Nature and marks of humanity huddled together. The space held the three trees, but also two signs, a brick path, two benches and a garbage drum. A chain link fence and a wood fence belted in the adjoining properties.

I pictured all the world becoming a gray and glass city – paved with concrete, dug with sewers and subways underneath, dotted with skyscraping buildings on every corner – except this spot of nature in miniature. Galadriel’s gift of elf-soil to Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings sprung to mind:

‘For you little gardener and lover of trees,’ she said to Sam, ‘I have only a small gift.’ She put into his hand a little box of plain gray wood, unadorned save for a single silver rune upon the lid. ‘Here is set G for Galadriel,’ she said; ‘but also it may stand for garden in your tongue. In this box there is earth from my orchard, and such blessing as Galadriel has still to bestow is upon it. It will not keep you on your road, nor defend you against any peril; but if you keep it and see your home again at last, then perhaps it may reward you. Though you should find all barren and laid waste, there will be few gardens in Middle-earth that will bloom like your garden, if you sprinkle this earth there. Then you may remember Galadriel, and catch a glimpse far off of Lórien, that you have seen only in our winter. For our Spring and our Summer are gone by, and they will never be seen on earth again save in memory.’ Sam went red to the ears and muttered something inaudible, as he clutched the box and bowed as well as he could.

In such a world-city, even only this fleck of nature would be enough to re-green the entire earth – eventually, with time. Now, I don’t really know if, scientifically, this is really true. The imagining highlighted the force and power of nature, even here, even here. Nature thrived abundantly – even here.