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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Not just the rubber capital

Embarrassing as it is for someone who has always considered herself a nature lover to admit, I do not spend much (any?) time in really wild places. Being sixty years old, overweight, asthmatic, and arthritic, I avoid places where I am likely to fall down the side of a mountain and lie there for days until someone less clumsy finds me or I am eaten by bears or panthers. My adventures are all of the soft kind. Sigh.

Fortunately, some visionary soul a few centuries ago invented the idea of public parks, and Ohio is full of them.  Last weekend found me visiting Akron, which in my early years always sounded like a thoroughly dismal place. I mean, "The Rubber Capital of the World"? It turns out, however, that F. A. Sieberling, the man who founded the Goodyear Tire Company in 1898, was also a great lover of his city and donated hundreds of acres and millions of dollars to improve the quality of life in Summit County. (Sieberling, by the way, also lived in perhaps the ultimate Tudor Revival home, Stan Hywet, the gardens of which were designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman.)

One park created from former Sieberling land is Nature Realm, which sits on the edge of town and contains a variety of my favorite things: tallgrass prairie, wet meadow, woodland lake, formal gardens, and this lovely little ravine, over which a suspension walkway has been built. We saw no bears or panthers.

This summer, Akron's Metroparks have been combining their natural loveliness with children's poetry reproduced on signs along the walkways

and public art, like this sculpture near the entrance to the herb garden

and this Thomas Wilmer Dewing painting from 1900, Symphony in Green and Gold.

(No such romantic figures were musing by the park's lake, only geriatric couples, young families, and lots of birds. But it is a gorgeous lake, anyway.)

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