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Keith Wiess Park

Keith Wiess Park

Scrolling through my Instagram feed a few months ago I came across a picture of a large pond in an open area bordered by tall trees in the distance. It was beautiful, so I clicked on the attached link to locate it. It turned out to be relatively close to where I live, which surprised me since I’d never heard of it before. After that, other pictures from the same park would show up every now and again. 


I did my research, like I always do, and found glowing reviews for the park. A lot of people love the place, and you’ll soon see why. I also found comments that the park is safe during the day but to leave before it gets dark. More on that later.


After parking, we followed a concrete pathway through what the park’s website describes as old growth forest toward the central area of the park. The morning had started out cool but we had made some navigational mistakes getting to the park. We were quickly approaching noon and we all know what it’s like to be out in the open on a hot day! We had walked maybe half a mile when the area in front of us opened up to an impressive view. 


The park offers views of not just one large pond, but of three. The central pond is circled by a concrete pathway and has a fishing pier at one end and on the other end a boardwalk that crosses the water in several short angled segments. Along the water you’ll find cypress trees and deciduous trees, which at this time of year are transitioning to shades of orange and gold.


North and south of the central pond, you’ll find two additional ponds, though these do not offer the manicured look of a concrete pathway. Instead, they’re circled by a dirt path that runs alongside the tree line. The benefit of the more rustic paths was readily apparent as we arrived in the shade the trees provided. The central pond has very little shade to offer, at least until the trees along the water manage to grow a little taller.


The other park visitors we saw seemed to all prefer the central pond. For the most part, they seemed to be there for the sake of getting some exercise. Several times we passed a young mother with a child in a stroller.


So what do you think? It’s a beautiful place, right? Once the fall colors arrive in earnest, I’ll need to come back and get more pictures.


Let’s get back to the comment about leaving before it gets dark. Comments like that tend to put a damper on a happy-go-lucky day. There is apparently a drug cartel operating in the neighborhood that borders the park and there were some shootings at the park a few years ago. I’ve decided to add that information so you can decide for yourself whether or not you’re comfortable going. 


I’m not by nature a risk taker but at the same time, I feel we live in a world that is constantly presented to us in fearful terms. If I allow myself to respond to that fear, my world will slowly grow smaller and smaller. Parents often go to extremes to keep their children safe, slowly constricting their children’s opportunities to explore the world and gain a sense of independence. As much as I tried to avoid that when my own kids were little, I did my fair share of it. It’s always about balance and what we’re comfortable with. In the end, we all make our decisions based on our perceptions of the world around us. 

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