The sound of the roaring, rushing water echoes through the parking lot that leads me to the pathway toward the water reservoir. There’s a slight breeze, preparing me for the lookout I am about to approach. Walking up the red brick path to the water opening, I smell a mixture of dish soap and chlorine. It’s about an hour past golden hour, and the crisp air reveals autumn’s arrival. As I continue down this brick path covered by a few early fallen leaves, I feel a heavy cloud of moisture hit my face. I’m getting close.
The occasional sound of a horn announces the arrival of the hourly Metra train passing next to the park from the city. Upon reaching the cold, black metal railing that separates the water from the walkway, I can see the entire u-shaped concrete sidewalk that surrounds the flowing water. Within the metal railing, shiny spider webs drape along the vertical bars, reflecting the light-posts’ shine.
I feel a sudden overflow of emotion, just like every time I walk up this path. I watch my feet take me closer to the water. Turning away from the water, I can see the sidewalk surrounded by a taller concrete border that serves as a perfect-height sitting bench. It’s not the most comfortable place to sit, but its touch has consoled me many times. Past the concrete, there is a stretch of grass with pine trees strewn across the field with occasional purple and yellow brightly-colored wild flowers. The trees which survived the hot summer sun look a bit parched, but still stand strong and tall. I look back forward into the canal that this water flows into, taking in the scenery. This under-appreciated scenic point is enough to help me escape the bustling street noises that never end in the outskirts of the big city. It’s almost like a neglected sister to Central Park in the very middle New York City, where nature is taken for granted. This reservoir has left a distinct sound that will never leave my ears.
There is a family of three standing in the center curve of this u-shaped sidewalk path along the edge of the waterfall. The mom and dad have their young daughter beside them, just a toddler, ready and eager to play. The child climbs onto the raised cement border, and then jumps off, her laughs and squeals blurred with distance, over and over again. It’s getting dark out, and the mother rounds up her daughter for the drive home, motioning towards the exit path. The small girl lets out a groan, but after a few more leaps from the concrete border, she gives in and joins her parents as they approach the brick path that will lead them back to the parking lot.
Once the family leaves, the figure of a teenage girl remains far in the distance behind where the family stood. The girl sits on the ledge of the concrete border, with her legs crossed, facing the falls. She has a book right next to her, but she does take much interest in it. She has her face in her hands; she’s crying. She must be seeking comfort here. After some time, she looks up, looks around, wipes her tears, and grabs her book. She focuses on her reading, keeping her head down the whole time.
Opposite to me on this horseshoe-shaped waterfall is a couple, they’re both probably in their early 20s. Well, their posture and the way they carry themselves influence my assumption. Elbows resting on the cold metal bar, they lean against the railing that separates the sidewalk from the water. They’re both staring into each other’s eyes, so unperturbed and at peace. I agree with them, this hidden secret of the town can bring so much serenity. The couple walks back over to the concrete bench, hand in hand. They sit in silence while looking at the water, with an occasional hand squeeze. The water seems to be doing the talking for them. A while passes, and they stand up, turn to the entrance and walk back to the brick path. I watch their figures fade into the darkness of the night until it is just me and thoughts alone in this park.
This mini waterfall has heard many secrets: the angry curses, the guilty confessions, the melancholy questions. Its welcoming sound of water falling begs you to release your emotions into its fountain of peace. This reservoir has left a distinct sound that will never leave my ears. And when I think of home, I can hear it clearly, reliving every waking moment I spent there with my parents as a small child, alone in my moments of sadness and despair, and with my lover sharing my covert getaway. My understated bliss.