Buttonwood Park, City Oasis

Buttonwood Park, City Oasis

It’s already hot in Florida. Stifling, actually.

Elsewhere in the US, record amounts of snow and low winter temps have others longing for the warmer air of spring. For me, it’s the cool crisp air I miss. The freshness that comes with the melting of the snow and the thawing of the ground. I miss spring on the Massachusetts SouthCoast.

I miss Buttonwood Park.

Designed in the 1890’s by Charles Eliot, the 97-acre city park is a refuge for animals and humans alike and boasts a 7-acre pond accessible to the main road, where one can pull off and feed the ducks as their whim may fancy. The pond’s little island in the center has shrunken to almost nothing over the years. Paddle boaters still circle it in the summer. A greenhouse is situated across the access road and hidden behind it is a smaller pond, covered in lily pads when the weather is favorable. Across the way, children play on the playground, and from the slides you can peek in the zoo for a complete view of the elephant habitat, where Emily and Ruth delight children of all ages. Trails for walking, jogging, and biking wind their way through the grounds. The expansive grassy lawn hosts a variety events from formal athletic events to festivals to family picnics, and are dotted with elm, sycamore, and sweetgum trees.

KK N buttonwwod

Once I could drive, I’d often park my car at the boathouse by the large pond and wander over to the lily pad pond behind the greenhouse with a book, homework, notebook, or sketchpad. This pond is actually a brook that flows to Apponagansett Bay in Dartmouth, which leads to Buzzards Bay in Cape Cod. Wildflowers perfume the air and the sounds of the nature and wildlife around me transported me out of the city and I could imagine I was in L.M. Montgomery’s world of Avonlea, content to relax and create by the Lake O’ Shining Waters.

Lily Pad pond

It’s been several years since I’ve been back, and my heart longs for the tranquility the park offers. In Love on the Edge, Lanie tells Matt about her happy place, a park with a zoo and elephants that is remarkably reminiscent of my Buttonwood. It’s where she learns to go in her mind when her PTSD is crippling her with fear and anxiety.

I can relate. There’s no other place like it.

Emily Ruth closeup

“Known as the “crown jewel” of New Bedford’s park system, Buttonwood Park is an oasis of nature and outdoor recreation conveniently located in the city’s West End. This family-friendly park provides a lovely natural setting where you can walk, bike, and spend time outside with friends and family.” Source: https://www.savebuzzardsbay.org/places-to-go/buttonwood-park/