Friday, July 10, 2015



A red balloon tickles childhood fantasies,
floats within Long Meadow's embrace
of grand oaks and stately elms,
whispers "anything is possible".

White-throated sparrows serenade with age-old song,
thrushes industriously scratch leaf litter,
ravens wing their way over Payne Hill.

Exuberant fingers point, youthful laughter explodes,
and Olmsted's vision is realized.

by Margaret Bednar, July 10, 2015

I remember crying when I was about 7 years old over a balloon I had "befriended" for days and then seeing this short film in middle school years later.  The impression of this film has never left me.

I have been gone for over a week visiting my son in Brooklyn.  I thoroughly enjoy Prospect Park and am quite smitten with its creator, Frederick Law Olmsted.  Purchased a six volume set of his letters and it is quite a walk through the history of his time.  He was a man of many passions, the most known his "foresight of how large American cities would become and his designs for parks and suburbs to enhance the lives of their future inhabitants" (Central Park perhaps being his most famous - but arguably not his greatest achievement)  Niagara Falls, Capital Building, Boston's "Emerald Necklace" and so much more.  He was a journalist for the budding "New York (daily) Times and traveled to the South and became a leading writer against the institution of slavery in America.

PBS has an excellent series on him - Designing America - if you are so inclined to search it out.

This is linked with "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - The Edge - what will we never outgrow?"  I hope I never outgrow a childlike wonder for nature and a belief that anything is possible.

An interesting article HERE, with an excerpt I snatched below. It explains the title "Greensward" a bit.

The "Pastoral" Style

Olmsted used the style of the Beautiful—or as he usually called it, the pastoral—to create a sense of the peacefulness of nature and to sooth and restore the spirit. The Pastoral style was the basic mode of his park designs, which he intended to serve as the setting for "unconscious or indirect recreation." The chief purpose of a park, he taught, was "an effect on the human organism by an action of what it presents to view, which action, like that of music, is of a kind that goes back of thought, and cannot be fully given the form of words."11 In such designs there were broad spaces of greensward, broken occasionally by groves of trees. The boundary was indistinct, due to the "obscurity of detail further away" produced by the uneven line and intricate foliage of the trees on the edge of the open space. In other parts the reflection of foliage by bodies of water introduced another element of intricacy and indistinctness. The effect was reminiscent of parks on estates that Olmsted had seen in England, and it was the image of the rich turf of that country, which he described as "green, dripping, glistening, gorgeous," when he first saw it, that remained for him the model of the Pastoral style.


brudberg said...

Oh I remember when my sister and I got one balloon each from our grandma.. But she lost her and she couldn't stop crying, until I released my balloon too. I actually felt a sense of joy releasing mine to the sky.... The film I think I have seen once.. Wonderful to remember balloons.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is such a wonderful poem..! I too as a child loved balloons.. and would use to cry like anything when a balloon would run out of air. When we are children.. we are more inclined towards believing that anything is possible.

I hope that this quality of ours remain for a bit longer.. and not end with our childhood. Beautifully penned :)

Lots of love,

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Gorgeous imagery in your poem, Margaret, full of birdsong.......very interesting notes too. Interesting to know one man is behind the vision of green space in big cities, especially those you named........

Outlawyer said...

Lovely, Margaret. I too love Prospect Park--and of course Central Park too. Thanks.


Ella said...

I am touched by your poem and thoughts~ I love balloons and am partial to red, too~ I will go through your links-I am enchanted~

Thank you, Margaret...I have missed you~

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is an educational post for me, Margaret. Parkland is so important in cities. It is sad that in many paces they have become unsafe due to crime.
Your poem has a very pleasant pastoral mood. I like the focus on the balloon.

Anonymous said...

The garden of Eden is located in childhood, for sure -- the pure sense of green wonder. "Red Balloon" was such a favorite of mine from early years, though the bullying of that balloon made me cry.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Thanks for stopping by :)
Once again beautiful poem :D

hedgewitch said...

Fascinating history to this--and yes, balloons and childhood(especially the Red Balloon) have a lot in common.

Jim said...

Children's imaginations are so volatile, they ignite with things we would never imagine. But then your 'red balloon' writing would make even me ignite. Lovely, Margaret.

Lolamouse said...

Lovely poem, Margaret. I think The Red Balloon must have been part of every child's curriculum in the 70s! It made a huge impact on me as well, as did "JT." Remember that one?

Kim Nelson said...

Isn't it true? We look at our little ones and know that anything IS possible; and we revel in that fact.

C.C. said...

That last line brings a lump to my throat.....the idea that his vision was realized...we all want to make a meaningful and lasting difference that will outlive us and he did. Powerful post and so informative too. Really enjoyed it.