Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

In a Pit In the City

Occurred June 24

The sun is warm on my face. I have no sunblock on but the UV index is low today and the sun is late in the sky. I don’t know if that means I won’t burn. All I know is that the shade is too cold in this winter day. My body is motionless in the metal weave chair. My legs are crossed, right knee over left. My arms are in at my sides and my hands sit, right over left, on top of my thigh. My eyes are closed to receive extra warmth. Thanks to my glasses, they are the only part of my face not sporadically tickled by errant hairs caught in slight breezes.

My eyes are also closed to take in the noises. The mesh presses into me, but the weave is dense enough that there is no distinct feeling. My limbs feel heavy from a week of use on a lazy day like today. My right ear acutely feels the warmth of the sun along with the rest of my emotionless face.

I concentrate on the sounds. I’m in an inner-city suburb, Paddington, about ten meters from an intersection. This is the type of place that would be considered a city neighborhood in most US cities. There is no ease in the traffic. And yet, here in my chair, the sounds are all faint. Muted at the level of closing the doors and sitting in a decently insulated city apartment. I know the city is there, but it is a pleasant low-level background soundtrack rather than a distraction. The beauty of the Paddington Reservoir is that I’m still outside in the city. I’m just one story down from street level. Those few meters of vertical drop remind me of my days of family beach vacations.

My sister and I would dig a hole in the sand. A few feet wide, a few across, a few deep. It was enough to comfortably sit in and be out of the wind. The ocean still crashed, the wind still blew, the other beachgoers still talked, but all of it was far away. I was in my tranquility surrounded by the world.

These gardens are a gem for me. Peace in the city. Nature in amongst the chaos of man’s attempt at order. But more than just a city garden, this spot offers two things most don’t. The first is effective sound dampening without just using distance.

The second, and more important to me, is the style. These are ruins reclaimed. A disused reservoir in a prime spot, redesigned into hanging hardens that rely as much on classic styling as they do on found items. An architectural work that uses the context of what was there to infuse what was built. The central elevated square is a plot of plants on top, old brick vaulted ceilings on bottom. The space is bigger for the interruptions within, walls of arches, former supports of the long ceilings, now simply a cue to emphasize the division between grass and pond, between park café and children’s run around area.

I am not alone in appreciating the beauty of the space. A local film crew is here with me. The shots come from every angle and I’m in a few of them, perched along a wall, writing, sucking up the last moments of sun before it drops behind the wall.

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This entry was posted on June 28, 2012 by in Australia, NSW (Sydney) and tagged , , .

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