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On Tilden Park
BY HEATHER SCHLEGEL
EXCERPTED FROM
JACARÉ NO.3

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I miss the wide open spaces of Iowa. The cornfields tall in July. The hot black pavement that runs through them. I always drove a lot in Iowa. Not because I had to, but because it was so relaxing. After a stressful event in my life I would retreat to the solitude of gravel backroads and the greenery alongside them.

You don't find that kind of open greenery in California. The San Joaquin Valley is fertile, full of lush tropical fruits and nuts, but it doesn't have the stamina or substance of soybean and corn fields. And the San Joaquin Valley is flat, in the true sense. No rolling hills here. Highway 5 is a four-lane superroad running from Sacramento to Los Angeles. I miss my two-lane wonder that kept me company during my drives between Ottumwa and Waterloo. I miss the rolling hills of eastern Iowa.

So where can one escape into nature from that ultra-savvy Paris of the Americas, the San Francisco Bay Area? When I feel the teeth of consumerism, image, or business snapping too close to my throat I run away to Tilden Park.

Tilden is nestled in the Berkeley hills and offers many natural diversions: swimming, hiking, climbing hills, and picnicking. While the eucalyptus trees sway in the wind on top, Wildcat Creek trickles below, etching a channel through the hills. Moss grows on the twisted mountain trees. The park looks like something out of a fairy tale with its shady paths and sunny mountain meadows. Tilden is not topographically like Iowa in the least, but it does keep sacred a little part of what the Midwest is made of: earth. And that earth power is very rejuvenating to a city dweller with earth in her soul.

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