I wrote last time that one reason I like SLC is all the green space. Parks abound, and are usually well maintained. One of the biggest park is Liberty Park, which comprises several city blocks and contains an aviary, a museum of folk art, and this cool water feature that is a miniature version of Jordan River and its tributaries, complete with canyons and labels and stuff so you can learn geography at the same time you're splashing around keeping cool in the summer. It's a totally great place to hang out with friends or entertain kids.
Liberty Park is many people's favorite park, but it's not mine. I much prefer Memory Grove, home to all sorts of memorials--mostly to veterans of various wars, though my favorite is a memorial a guy put up to his wife. (If you do work on memory or memorializations, you've got to check out this place.) It's mere blocks from downtown, and right at the mouth of City Creek Canyon, so you can be out of the city in just a 40-minute walk. Plus it's not called City Creek for nothing-there's really a creek.
But even Memory Grove is not my favorite park--at least, not right now.
My favorite park is the Brigham Young Historic Park at the corner of North Temple and State Street, right across from the Church Office Building.
Personally I don't think that's the best name for that park, even though it lies on part of Brigham Young's old farm, because there's another park a couple hundred yards away that is more Brigham Young-y in that it contains the graves of BY and several of his wives. The graves are clearly the reason that park exists--someone elected (wisely, I think) not to move the graves--but they're not the focus. There is some mediocre, banal, didactic statuary of the sort you typically see on church property, including a statue of BY sitting on a bench reading a book to two small children. There are also two big bronze plaques, one bearing the lyrics of "Oh My Father" by Eliza R Snow (who is buried in the park not far from Brigham) and the other bearing the lyrics to "Come, Come Ye Saints," which always makes me tear up 'cause it's actually a really great song that expresses so much pathos, hope and loss.
There is no statue of BY in the BY Historical Park. There are two statues of women working in a garden (actually, one woman both gardening and minding a small boy, plus one girl who has worked so hard she needs a drink of water), two statues of guys working in a quarry, and two statues of boys playing in a pond--only boys get to have fun in this park. There's a water wheel. There's a big plot of grass and a bunch of signs asking you to stay on the sidewalk.
And there are half a dozen benches on the south side of the park surrounded by lilac bushes, and as I've mentioned before, I LOVE lilacs. These lilac bushes make this spot completely magical. You can sit on one of those benches and have lilacs above, behind and to the side of you. They offer shade from the sun and every so often a breeze comes along, carrying the scent of the blooms. The plants and shrubs on the north side of the park are high enough that you can't see the traffic just beyond it, though you can see the doom of the Capitol Building above the foliage. (You can hear the traffic, but hey, it's a park in the middle of downtown, not a cloud cuckoo land.) It is the single best place I've ever found in my life to read a book. It's also a really good place to drink coffee and feel content. And despite that, it's always relatively empty. I'm usually the only person there.
Lilacs don't last forever; some of the blossoms are already beginning to brown. But one of the reasons I like that park so much is that it honors, accommodates and plans for a transitory pleasure. I think that's really cool, and I think it offers some important lessons about pleasure: it needs to be both cultivated and savored, because while you can make it happen, you can't make it stay.
Here are the lilac blossoms that hang right above my head when I take my position on the third bench.
Here are a couple of the statues and the benches and so forth.
See? It's a nice place.