Friday, May 20, 2011

A Sense of Place

     Preface:  We all have our special spots, those places of comfort that rarely change . . . places that give us our grounding, our roots.  They soothe and blanket us with a sense of peace.  Some seem to have magical qualities that awaken our senses.  Others calm us to the point of napping.  These places can be anywhere: a garden, a relative’s house, a public monument or a busy corner.
     My list of the locations in the Kansas City area is quite long, but I’ve picked three to share.  They are not the grandiose locations, such as the Liberty Memorial or the south lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  No, these are places tucked into spots that are not obvious, but they provide a moment of respite and a time for renewal of the spirit.
A Sense of Place
by Greg Larson
Thomas Swope Memorial

Thomas Swope Memorial
internet photo

     Unless you’ve played golf at the Swope Memorial Golf Course, you probably aren't aware of the memorial to the park’s benefactor.  You have to be on a mission to find it.  First, negotiate the winding uphill road to the golf course, then drive through the parking lot and pass by the clubhouse.  At the end of the road there is a small parking area.  A short downhill walk to an opening on the wooded hillside is required to experience the monument and the vista.
     Two granite lions gaze towards the west entrance to Swope Park, almost a mile distant.  They guard the resting place of Colonel Thomas Swope’s remains . . . the remains of a generous man who loved Kansas City and its people.
     The peaceful setting is far removed from the everyday hubbub, on a hillside that invites rest and contemplation.  Faint noises from the zoo below filter through the trees. The towers of the Starlight Theatre point skyward.  Misty shafts of sunlight stream to the valley below, where the Blue River flows.  The Ozarks beckon.

vista looking west from memorial
internet photo

West Terrace Park

confluence of Kansas and Missouri Rivers

     Perched on the northwest edge of downtown Kansas City is West Terrace Park, the location where the Lewis and Clark party stood to view the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers.  The sights and sounds of the city create an ambience of vitality.
     Truck tires hum as diesels belch from the highway loop below.  The scent of coffee fills the air.  Planes float past at eye level, adjusting flaps to line up the runway beyond the levee.  Trains chug in the west bottoms, with an occasional blare of warning.  Barges pass underneath the arches of Broadway Bridge
     The heartbeat of Kansas City touches the bones. 

Broadway Bridge

Rose Garden - Loose Park
                        The Garden
American beauties
budding in June
earth and sky bond in petals of glory
formal attire for the weary eyes
a fountain flows in the outdoor parlor 
wild canes climb at garden’s edge
a union of chains
a circled path
forever beyond
old couples stroll the past
lovers embrace the future
intermingled blossoms and thorns