Audubon supporter and volunteer James Davis penned this entry for Florida’s Special Places. Sometimes the best way to get into nature is by visiting your nearby county or local park. You don’t have to travel far to experience the magic of natural Florida! Please enjoy James’ nomination of Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee, Florida:
A mother closes the door of her car, hand in hand with her child, and walks past a father eating lunch with his son on the tailgate of a pickup toward tables flecked with green and red with a birthday cake to match. Above the tops of the pines, across a span of grass, an amplified voice announces the leaders of a race through the hum of motors. She and her son step onto the shredded rubber of recycled tires that is the playground for the child and his friends. The seesaw keeps metronomic rhythm, and the swings, like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, keep time with the Sunday afternoon at Tom Brown Park.
There are reasons for being drawn to the park. Conservation efforts have allowed the residents of Tallahassee to enjoy this gem. At first glance, one can recognize the beauty in its presence. Fields of grass carpet the foundation of a single tree, where a mockingbird jumps from limb to limb. A lake occupied by slider turtles and the occasional swimming Anhinga provide the peaceful backdrop for an insouciant meditator or the passerby wanting to get away from it all. And still beyond this lies another world.
The mouth of a canopied pathway is the beginning of just one of Tallahassee’s secrets, tucked in behind one of the city’s iconic treasures. Away from the open fields where a group of college students play Frisbee golf, or where sunbathers absorb sun and literature, lies a different world worthy of its own kind of admiration. A walk through the area exposes the venturer to a plethoric milieu representative of Florida’s special places, just one reason for the conservation efforts of Audubon. There is never a silent moment in the woodland. It is alive with birdsong. Cardinals, wrens, and the hawks above, all display a kind of melodic chorus. Though the birds are occasionally elusive, sometimes the breaks in the treetops allow the sun to act as a spotlight, allowing them to briefly present themselves to the walkers, joggers, and bikers that frequent the trails of underground Tallahassee. Tom Brown Park has become a top location for birdwatching, and it is a well deserved distinction.
Removed from the hassle of rush hour traffic and the brick and mortar of city life, Tom Brown Park is itself a demonstration of the continued need for conservation efforts in the protection of this beloved area of the city, among the other special places in the state. The park acts as a justification for the preservation of what we have come to hold dear in the times of population growth.
In quoting E.E. Cummings:
“[t]here’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go.”
Sometimes nature is the escape that all of us need, and we have a reminder of that universe in Tallahassee’s own backyard.