Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Spirit of a Place III

This is the third and final post showcasing essays about places in and near New Orleans by students in our Pilot class at the Loyola Intensive English Program. Pilot students are preparing for full academic admission to Loyola University New Orleans by taking two credit-bearing intensive English courses and two other academic courses at Loyola.

Our Pilot students were recently assigned an essay that required them to reflect deeply about a New Orleans place. They were asked not only to describe this place but also to evoke its spirit. Like the essays by Meng and by James in our two previous posts, this third essay by Eduardo de la Espriella of Panama admirably delves into the spirit of a place in New Orleans.

Eduardo de la Espriella of Panama
Eduardo is majoring in graphic design. He also loves music and has worked as a disc jockey in music clubs in Panama.

Eduardo has chosen to write about Audubon Park, right across Saint Charles Avenue from Loyola University. Eduardo beautifully evokes the peacefulness of the park on a recent afternoon and brings to us the park's sights, sounds, touch sensations, and smells. Here is Eduardo's essay.

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Audubon Park: New Peace Found
By Eduardo de la Espriella

The peace I encountered on a cold afternoon in Audubon Park, a park in front of Loyola and Tulane Universities, was unique and new. The park contains many areas, but I felt strongly connected with one specific place. Near the middle of the "L" shaped lake in Audubon Park, there's a bench where I sat, I saw, I listened, I felt, I smelled, and I relaxed.

The bank by the lake in Audubon Park where Eduardo spent his afternoon
As I sat down, I looked around me and saw my surroundings. Right in front of me was the lake, which had such beautiful "V" shaped fountains. Across the lake was a golf course where I saw many golfers hitting some balls and having good chats with their partners. At my right, I saw a gazebo full of college students sharing life stories; it was at a fairly nice distance, enough to hear them laughing. At the left, I could see a very beautiful small rock bridge spanning the lake to the golf course; this bridge had a well-crafted arch shape, which made it look modern but enough to say it has had some long and restless years. Finally behind me were people walking; although I never turned around to see them, they seemed nice people to have a good short chat with.

I could hear many different sounds, too. Birds were singing and twitting; even ducks made incredible sounds. The sounds coming from these birds and ducks were like the keys on a piano, from the soft treble melody of little birds to the bass quack of larger ducks and all the notes in between.

A duck swimming in the lake in Audubon Park
Someone was trying to turn on the engine on a broken motorboat, which I found disturbing, but after some time I guess he couldn't repair it and everything went calm again. This boat was coming my way from the left; I would have liked to be on board to experience how the bridge looked from the downside.

I could hear the laughs of the people from the gazebo; they were having so much fun, and every single laugh was unique, from the toughest guy with the loudest voice to the annoying gal withn the "daddy girl" voice.

The gazebo in Audubon Park
Many iPods were playing behind me while people walked or biked by my back; I can't understand why they would choose to listen to their iPods rather than to the little birds singing. I could also hear some rusty bike chains rotating behind me, and the howl of a strong breeze even made me shiver. The sound of the water falling into the lake caused by the "V" shaped fountain felt as if everything was going according to plan; how each drop of water rises into the air and follows the same path every single time made me believe that life puts me into a path and I should just follow it.

A fountain in lake in Audubon Park
I could also physically feel so many things. The cold air rushing by me and the heat from the sun falling on top of my head made it perfectly comfortable to stay; it wasn't cold or hot, it was the perfect weather to just stay calm. Personally I don't like mosquitoes biting my skin, but before they do, they take some steps on the arm, and it feels like little needles touching the skin just before breaking it. The ground beneath me was cold and soft at the same time, just as the air. Moisture on rocks made the place really comfortable to be in, and it was so magical when dragonflies started resting on my arms. There was so much peace; I could feel so restful and weightless, as if nothing in the world mattered any more.

The place smelled like fresh flowers and fresh air, but also there was a taste of smoke in the air that made it a little unpleasant. Although I could sometimes feel a little smoke on the air, the air felt so much purer than anywhere else in the cith of New Orleans.

I relaxed so pleasantly that half an hour never had felt so short. What a beautiful place to be! I've gone many times after with friends just to relax from our stressful life.
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Thank you, Eduardo, for sharing with us your sensual experience of the peaceful spirit of Audubon Park.

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