Location: Across from the Children's Hospital
Size of Park: Large
Crowds: Light, but that's not surprising, considering the heat
Approximate Age of Patrons: Parents and children
Topics of Conversation: "Happy birthday!"
Stray Dogs Seen: None
Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: n/a, but lots of family vehicles on the street
Perceived Safety: High
Number of Gunshots Heard: None
Dog Friendliness: Fine. There was a dog at the birthday party.
Number of pitbulls sighted: None
Accessibility: Good, especially for kids with accessibility needs
Incorporation of Local History: Poor signage, great dragonage
Recommended Patrons: Everyone
This was the first time I've ever been to this park when it wasn't teeming with kids. There was a birthday party in one of the pavilions back by the dragon and a handful of adults draped over seats near the enormous jungle gym, but nobody on the jungle gym, which is usually full of kids.
The jungle gym is set up nicely, with wide ramps to get you up into it, great trees to shade it and plenty to do in it. I think they kept in the forefront of their thought when designing it that they might get some kids from the hospital who want to play in it, so it's wide enough for a wheelchair or to accommodate fretting parents.
The park itself is large with lots of areas for activities. Up near Blakemore, there are a lot of trees and benches, perfect for hanging out and reading, then the playground and swings of all sorts. Then, of course, the dragon, and that more rustic-looking play area and some tennis courts.
Even if you never go to the park to participate in an activity of any sort, you definitely should go to see the dragon. It's really an amazing piece of public art, simply beautiful as a whole and up close. I noticed a rendition of Minnie Pearl on the dragon, which made me wonder if there's any other country star so instantly recognizable and so well-known for their Nashville do-goodery. I don't want to downplay anyone else's do-goodery, but I just don't think there's going to be another one like Minnie Pearl.
The hard times have not passed this park by. I saw a sleeping bag under one of the trees, tucked behind a ridge in such a way as to be invisible from the road. And the storms have hit the park hard. Trees and tree branches are down all over. I know we once discussed why the city doesn't put more fruit trees in parks to encourage healthy eating, but seeing all of the fruit trees in this park split in two reminded me — a lot of fruit trees are not very hardy. You probably don't want to be putting in a lot of trees that someone's going to have to be constantly picking up after.
But let me be clear, none of these things look or feel like neglect. It's obvious that the park is well-maintained and well-cared-for. But you can't do tile repairs in the rain, which rules out a lot of this spring. And apparently now it's going to be extremely hot. The trees are very freshly down, so it's not like someone has dropped the ball on that.
The only thing I'm a little sad about is that, since there weren't any kids at the park, I can't report on any of the ridiculous names parents had given them. The last time I was at this park, we heard someone speaking sternly to a "Petal," which we laughed about for the rest of the day. I mean, shoot, if your parents name you "Petal," you practically HAVE to be a bad-ass who does not know where her shoe is and does not care and is not listening because she's going to play, just to survive in this world.
You can also see the white-people child-naming convention in wide use. I probably shouldn't be telling y'all this, but here's how white people name their kids when they don't like any family names and aren't particularly religious: They write down all the letters of the alphabet on slips of paper and put them in the father's baseball cap. They draw a letter out and stick that letter on the front of "aiden." Now, you can spell "aiden" any way you want, but that's what it has to sound like. So, if you pull a "J," congratulations. Your kid is Jaden. "K" gives you Kayden. Now, some letters don't sound good on their own — like, say you pull a "b." You don't want to name your kid "Baiden," especially if you're a Republican, since that's too close to our vice president's last name. So, in cases like that, you are allowed to add an "l" or an "r" depending on what sounds best. Don't worry, "b" pullers! You can call your kid "Braiden."
Now, some letters just don't work. You're never going to name your kid "Naiden" or "Nlaiden" or "Nraiden." But I believe that's how we end up with the occasional "Petal." Why do white people love the "aiden" sound so much? Science has yet to come up with an answer.
Anyway, I've said too much. You can go to the park and hear for yourself.
I took a ton of pictures, so check them out at my blog, if you're so inclined.