A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Freeville Tour: Groton Avenue Park

Today, we continue our tour of Freeville with a look at Freeville's other park, Groton Avenue Park.  This would probably be the "flagship" of the two parks in the Freeville park system, since it's a bit bigger, and even features a parking lot. I'd be a little nervous playing basketball on that court, though; I'm a terrible shot, and I'd probably airmail one over the backboard and into the creek beyond.

This picture is looks out from the parking lot to the three softball fields that form the bulk of the park.  The three brown splotches that you can probably make out beyond the first field are the three deer that I see all the time in my yard...which sits, as the deer roam, maybe a quarter mile from the park.  This photo is clear evidence that I need a real camera...using the iPhone with the zoom feature just doesn't cut it.

Next to the parking lot is the "kiddie area" of the park, including swings, a couple of spring-loaded ridey things, a seesaw, and an old school jungle gym.  There are also a couple of grills and a pavilion with picnic tables for parties.  Beyond the trees lies Fall Creek.

Here's a look at Fall Creek from behind the basketball hoop, looking upstream, toward the north.  The park side of the creek has a steeper bank that the far side, maybe six to eight feet, making it about half as big as the creek's bank when it winds around to my property. 

Here's a look directly across the creek.  It's amazing how flat the bank is on the other side, in comparison to the steep bank that you can't see on the near side (though you can tell that the photo was taken from several feet above the other side).  The other side of the creek, by the way, is a nature preserve, named after one of the old-time families of Freeville.

And here's a look downstream from roughly the same place.  Now the difference between the two banks is clearer.  The right side is relatively flat, while the left side has a steep incline of a few feet that is pretty consistent all the way around the bend.  The park forms a kind of peninsula as the creek takes a dramatic U turn...here, the creek is moving into the beginning of the U, and the big turnaround curve at the bottom of the U sits at the far end of the park.

A look from the parking lot past the playground equipment toward the softball diamond on the far side of the park.  The park, constrained by the creek, is well less than 100 yards wide...the creek makes quite the dramatic U turn! 

A view toward the opposite corner of the park, in which the two grills and other two softball fields are visible.

Now, I've walked along the same side of of the park towards the back, and this is looking diagonally across the other way.  In other words, I'm near the end of the first straightaway of the U.  You can see the houses of Groton Avenue in the distance. 

Here's a look in the upstream direction as the creek works its way down the U.  You can see that here, away from the curve and well into the straightaway, the bank is low on both sides; no steep bank here!

And here's a look in the downstream direction.  You can see the creek turning into the bend of the U.  I should note that to get to this point, I had to take a narrow trail through some relatively thick (and sometimes prickly) brush that's located at the far end of the park.

And here's some of that brush.  You can see a green thorny plant with its reddish thorns in the foreground.  I wonder if this area has ever been cleared or managed, besides cutting a couple of small trails through it.

Here's a tree that has literally doubled over.  At some point, it split in half, with the top half dangling ever since.  No idea why, though.

Here's a look across the top of the park.  I made my trip in the late afternoon over the weekend, and you can see the sun setting in the background.  The brush on the right is quite thick, but not thick enough to prevent the deer from seeking shelter in it during one of my earlier trips to the park when I startled them.

There are a couple of birdhouses in the park; not sure if they're occupied or not.

And here you can see, pretty dramatically, the vines that are trying to suffocate a couple of trees.  I suspect this may be the culprit for the doubled-over tree that I showed a couple of pictures ago. 

Here I've fought through a narrow trail at the other end of the bottom of the U, as the creek is coming out of the hairpin turn.  To me, it almost looked like a moonscape, so devoid of the trees and thick brush that had dominated the other side of the hairpin turn.  You can maybe make out the creek and the far bank in the background, which, owing to the curve, is much steeper than this side.

You should be able to make out a worn trail in the above photo...not sure if it's a human-made trail or a deer trail...probably used by both!  Also, that appears to be quite the fallen tree in the upper left corner.

And now I've moved next to the creek, so you can see the water winding its way out of the U and into the second straightaway.  From here, it's nearly a straight shot to my dock!

And looking directly across the creek, you can see a random bench.  I'm guessing that there's a trail as part of the nature preserve over there.  Once we get a relatively warm weekend again, I'll have to check it out.

And here's a look downstream from about the same spot.  Somewhere down that way is the dock, and beyond it, my house.

And now I've fought back through the brush and looked back diagonally across the park.  The pavilion and playground equipment are off in the distance.

Either someone a little too heavy sat on the ends of the bench, or some local hooligans had some fun at some point.

While the softball diamonds are a little overgrown, and the basepaths consist of weeds and grass rather than dirt, (I don't know how regularly they're used), they come complete with a full complement of bases, including home plate.

Looking across the softball diamond, it's easy to imagine a burly lefty or a right-handed batter with a solid opposite-field stroke sending one off into the creek.  The park's really not that wide...but it's a great use of the land, and there's really an awful lot to see in a relatively small area.  Actually this is true of both of Freeville's parks.  Hope you've enjoyed this part of the tour!

Related post:

Freeville tour: Mill Dam Park

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