Sunday, September 29, 2013

And Speaking of Memory . . . (Remember?)

Yesterday evening, Marash Girl opened a Chinese Fortune Cookie which gave her the following message:

"A good memory is fine, but the ability to forget is the one true test of greatness. . ." By that definition, Marash Girl, and many of the rest of us, have passed the one true test of greatness . . . But then, what is it that we are willing to forget?  Yosef Hahim Yerushalmi (Zakhor) or Alan Wolfe (The Blessings of Exile) may want to weigh in on that thought . . .

P.S.  The other side of the message instructed Marash Girl how to say "orange" in Chinese!  Now there was a coincidence, since orange is Marash Girl's favorite color!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lost anything recently?

If you're like Marash Girl, every once in a while you'll lose your car keys . . . or worse!  Well, Marash Girl was finally informed of a solution to the problem . . . although she'll admit that she hasn't tried it yet.  Her sister-in-law writes, "I learned  this phrase when I was working at GNC,  from a customer, an old gentleman born in the South, then  living in Springfield, Massachusetts:

'Infinite wisdom of my subconscious mind, where did I leave my ________?'"

"The first time I used the phrase," she writes," which was also the day the kind old gentleman told me of this 'method', it took me all day and many attempts with the phrase before I found my keys in the back room.  The door to the back room kept 'drawing' my attention as I was talking with a customer who was standing near  the back door.  After the customer left, not really expecting to find my keys, I went into the back room and there were the keys, sitting on some boxes."

When Marash Girl asked her how may times she had to repeat the phrase, she wrote, "The number of times varied for me.  I have not had to use the phrase lately, but I will if I misplace something.  As I think about it now, I think it is like a prayer. . . "

Your solution/s? Please share in the comments below!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Bekmez Girl

A lavish display of wealth has always been favored by a certain group of folks . . . Americans label the display "Nouveau Riche", borrowing a French term.  Marashtsi Armenians need only comment, "the bekmez girl".

Many of the wealthy in Western Armenia, (the Western Armenians' term for Eastern Anatolia) owned vineyards outside of the cities in which they lived.  In the fall of every year, the vineyards would produce grapes in abundance, the crop far more than could be eaten by the populace in the countryside or the cities.  Thus bekmez would be made from the grapes -- a thick sweet syrup created by boiling down the grapes for days -- a syrup (similar to maple syrup) that would be used for sweetening throughout the year until autumn harvest.  Bekmez was expensive, and consumed by the wealthy in the rural areas, or shipped to the cities for sale to the urban wealthy.  The poor rarely had the opportunity to taste that delicious syrup.

Marash Girl is unable to remember the story told by Marashtsis about the "Bekmez Girl"; she remembers only the ending:  The peasant girl doesn't know what to do with the bekmez, so she wipes it all over her face and all over her "vor" (her bottom).  The meaning?  When folks of limited means come into sudden wealth, they don't know what to do with that wealth, and thus their choices are often ostentatious, or even worse, gross.  Marash Girl's comment to Marash Boy whenever she sees such display?  Oh, not to worry; it's only the bekmez girl!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Alan Wolfe on THE BLESSINGS OF EXILE at BC's Boisi Center

Alan Wolfe speaking at the Boisi Center on his book (in progress), The Blessings of Exile
Marash Girl attended Alan Wolfe's presentation on The Blessings of Exile: Why Minority Status is Good for the Jews and Everyone Else. She asked a question in Armenian, which, believe it or not, Prof. Wolfe answered . . . (in English, of course!) The concept of exile being a blessing is an interesting one . . . one that all Armenians should take into serious consideration.  Your thoughts?

"Alan Wolfe is the founding director of the Boisi Center and Professor of Political Science at Boston College. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books, including, most recently, Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It(2011), The Future of Liberalism (2009),Does American Democracy Still Work?(2006), Return to Greatness (2005), The Transformation of American Religion: How We actually Practice our Faith (2003), Moral Freedom (2001) and One Nation After All (1999). Widely considered one of the nation's most prominent public intellectuals, he is a frequent contributor to the New York TimesWashington Post, and The Atlantic, and has delivered lectures across the United States and Europe. He is currently at work on his latest book, The Blessings of Exile: Why Minority Status is Good for the Jews--and Everyone Else"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Overheard at the Entrance to the Downtown Harvard Club, Boston

What?  You want to see my ID?

I don't have to show my ID to vote, but I have to show my ID to get into Boston's Downtown Harvard Club?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era: Dr. Joseph Nye Chats with Chowda at the Boston Downtown Harvard Club

Dr. Joseph Nye signing his book,
Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era
Photo by Marash Girl
Yesterday evening, Dr. Joseph Nye chatted brilliantly (and often humorously) with a group of over 100 folks as they chowed down "chowda" (clam, corn or vegetarian)  at Boston's Downtown Harvard Club.

Presenting the ideas he espouses in his most recent book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, Dr. Nye contrasted American presidents such as Wilson and Reagan -- transformational presidents in his view -- with presidents such as Eisenhower and Bush (the father) -- presidents which he labeled transactional. Trying to decide whether a president was transformational or transactional? he asked the audience.  Just ask yourself the question, "If the opponent had won the election, would things have been different?"

Member of audience waits while Dr. Nye autographs  Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era.
Photo by Marash Girl

Monday, September 23, 2013

Overheard at a Newton Corner Yard Sale

Overheard Saturday at a Newton Corner Yard Sale:

I don't have time to argue about price . . . I'll give you $10 cash for those plates  . . .
I'm in a rush; I have to go to a funeral.

The seller looked down at the set of 12 china plates decorated with gold, looked up at the customer's attire:  old jeans and a  t-shirt.

Oh . . . , the buyer mumbled. . . my clothes . . . well, it's a Christian funeral I'm going to, so
I don't have to change . . . 

Pulling a big fat roll of dollar bills out of his pocket, bills which still had the bank's brown paper band wrapped around them, and taking care not to show whether there were a hundred ones, or a hundred 20's, he mumbled, "Let me know if you have anything else good you'd like to sell.  .  .  I pay in cash."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Goodbye, Rostom, Goodbye: Remembering Rostom Voskanian

"Goodbye, Rostom, Goodbye!"  

Those are the words Marash Girl wrote in her journal in the August of her youth, as she was leaving Tehran for her home in the USA.  

Those are the words Marash Girl writes today as she learns of the passing of her good friend, Rostom Voskanian who, in the August of his old age, left this world for his new home with the Lord.  

"Goodbye, Rostom, Goodbye!"


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Iyi gitdi -- Hooray for the Broken Glass!

Don't cry over spilt milk, they say in the USA.

But Marash Boy's grandmother, an Armenian born in Marash, having escaped the death march and the genocide, said something different in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Whenever a glass or dish fell and broke, she cheered and would say, "Iyi gitdi" which translates into English, It's good that it's gone -- or more elaborately, "It's good that it's gone; let it take all the evil with it!"

Is that why a glass is broken at the end of a Jewish marriage ceremony?

Is that why Marash Boy's sister reports the following?
"As I recall (hopefully accurately) when a newly married couple returned from their honeymoon, as they entered the house where family members were gathered, a dinner plate and/or other china was dropped in front of them with force enough to break on the floor.  This was done to bring them good life and fortune together."

According to a friend who grew up in Armenia, the same action is taken in Armenia when a newly married couple enters their new home for the first time, but in Armenia, the dish is wrapped in cloth so that when it breaks, the pieces are not scattered all over the floor for someone (the new bride?) to clean up!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Overheard at the Harvard Club NYC - Իմ անուշիկս

Stranger at the Bar:  Who's that with you --

Guest:  That's my sweetie (translated from the Armenian, Իմ անուշիկս - "Im anoushigus").

Stranger at the Bar: Oh, how long have you been together?

Guest:  Since she was born!

Stranger at the Bar: Oh . . . she's your daughter!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rainbow at the Back Door

                                             Rainbow at the Back Door                                                     Photo by Marash Girl      

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An Ancient Wedding Tale . . . Another Nasreddin Hodja Story

Nasreddin Hodja,  in his humble daily attire,  walked across the village to the wedding celebration.  The greeter at the entrance to the tent, looked at Nasreddin Hodja and would not allow Hodja to enter the wedding reception.  "You can't come in here looking like that!"

Nasreddin Hodja returned home and changed into his finest clothing.  Returning across the village to the wedding tent, Hodja was welcomed.  "Enter, enter, esteemed Nasreddin Hodja!" 

Nasreddin Hodja entered the wedding tent, was escorted to a table, and before him were placed the most elegant of wedding tasties.

With his right hand, Hodja opened the wide left sleeve of his wedding coat, and started pouring food down the sleeve.  

In horror, the guests surrounding him screamed, "Hodja, what are you doing?"

Nasreddin Hodja answered, "I'm feeding my coat.  It's clear that my coat was welcomed at this wedding celebration; not me!"

N.B. Grandpa Peter, born in Marash, would love to tell the tale!

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Darosu Kez" Տարոսը քեզ…

Տարոսը քեզ …"Darosu Kez!"

The Promise
Meghan & Deron

"May you have the same good fortune!"

Sealing the Promise

Getting Married: September 14, 2013

Photos courtesy of Auntie Martha

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Deron & Meghan: Մէկ Բարձի Վրայ Ծերանաք

Deron & Meghan:  May you grow old on one pillow! Մէկ Բարձի Վրայ Ծերանաք!

Meghan & Deron in front of the altar at Trinity Church (Wall Street and Broadway in Manhattan)

Trinity Church (Wall Street and Broadway in Manhattan) - The Kushotz?

Mr. & Mrs. Deron Charkoudian at their wedding recption, Harvard Club, New York City

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wedding Cake Under Your Pillow?

Having arrived at the Harvard Club NYC in preparation for her son's wedding, Marash Girl met her soon to be "gelin" who had just rushed in from 44th Street with last minute instructions for the gentleman at the Club who was in charge of wedding arrangements . . . As she stood there listening,  Marash Girl remembered that at every wedding she had ever been to, the wedding cake had been sliced and handed out to the guests to take home . . . if the guest happened to be unwed and a woman, she was to take the cake home and place it under her pillow with the assurance that she would dream that night  of the man she would marry. . .  Have you ever heard of that custom? Marash Girl asked the bride to be (who had grown up in Pittsburgh). No, the bride to be had never heard of such a custom.  Have you heard of the custom? Marash Girl asked Harvard Club's Maitre d'.  No, he said; strange custom indeed.

Marash Girl asked Marash Boy if he had grown up with the custom, and yes, he said, he had, of course!  She asked her oldest daughter if she had ever heard of the custom, and her daughter said, yes, Marash Girl (or her mother, in this case) had told her all about it.

Thinking that it must be an Armenian custom, as none of the odars she had asked had heard tell of cake under the pillow identifying the future husband of a young woman, Marash Girl asked her daughter to check the internet -- Sure enough, the internet confirmed that the custom of placing a slice of wedding cake under your pillow in the assurance that you will dream of the man you will marry -- that that custom is not confined to Armenian circles, but is practiced worldwide.  Marash Girl could find no reference as to the origin of the custom.  However, the custom was repeatedly dismissed as an old wive's tale.  Marash Girl would see this custom, rather, as a young woman's promise! Why Pittsburgh and the Harvard Club of New York City had never heard of such promise is left for the anthropologists (and Marash Girl) to wonder at . . .

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Ring Bear

Several weeks after he had been asked to be a ring bearer at Deron & Meghan's wedding, Iffar asked his mother, "Now about that bear thing .  .  .   I know I'm going to be the ring bear, but when do I get my bear costume?"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Knitting to music!

Having problems remembering something?
Having problems teaching something?  Set it to music!

Teaching Iffar how to knit at age 4, Marash Girl and Iffar, snuggled next to each other, sang the directions in chorus:

Needle under, yarn around, slip it under, slip it off, dah dah dah,
Under, yarn around, slip it under, slip it off!

He's never forgotten the song, and he's never forgotten how to knit!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Having a blast . . .

Marash Girl was bored, waiting for a cup of coffee, waiting in a long line at a McDonald's which was positioned to provide for folks who wanted a break from driving along the Massachusetts Turnpike. 

She turned to the little boy waiting beside her and asked, "Do you know any good jokes?"

The little boy thought for a moment, and said, "Yes!"

He continued.  "A rocket and an airplane were at a party.  What did the rocket say to the airplane?" 

Marash Girl thought for a moment . . . "I don't know!"

His big blue eyes looked up at Marash Girl as he gave the answer to his riddle. 
"I'm having a blast!"  

The little boy grinned proudly and added, ""And I just made that up!"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tony Hillerman's Murder Mysteries Set on the Navaho Reservation

Humor, it is often said, cannot be translated -- nor understood across cultures.  In his murder mysteries, set on the Navaho Reservation and steeped in Navaho culture, Tony Hillerman often refers to Navaho humor -- a humor more often than not a play on words in the Navaho language and thus untranslatable.  However, yesterday, rereading Hillerman's novel Listening Woman,
Marash Girl laughed out loud as Hillerman related a joke that all his readers could understand. McGinnis, an old white man who runs a trading post on the Navaho Reservation, and hears every bit of gossip there is to be had on the reservation,  a man who, whenever he appears in the novel, is sipping bourbon from a Coca-Cola glass -- comments, "Had a doctor tell me I ought to quit this stuff because it was affecting my eardrums and I told him I liked what I was drinking better'n what I was hearing."

N.B. The first time Marash Girl became aware of Tony Hillerman was many years ago at the library in Northampton, Massachusetts, and it was there that she found his novel Listening Woman . . . Marash GIrl was hooked -- and proceeded to read every book she could find by this writer of murder mysteries, mysteries set on the Navaho Indian Reservation in the southwestern United States.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ermerouk - բէրբէր - Purslane - "The only thing that kept us alive -- the only thing there was to eat . . ."

    Purslane (բէրբէր) on the tree belt at the side of the road, Newton, Massachusetts
Marash Girl caught her first sight of purlsane years ago --  she was a little girl growing up on Lowell Avenue when the purslane was  growing between the rows of tomato plants in the garden in her back yard.  The plants were seen as nothing but weeds, then, interfering with the revered tomato plants that her father had grown from seed (the tomato plants, not the purslane).

And then it was Marash Girl's turn to grow tomatoes (and panjar and cucumbers and corn and green beans) in Wilbraham.  And there Medzmama delighted in harvesting the purslane which insisted on growing between the rows of tomato plants . . . She gathered the "weeds" carefully, breaking off the root that were clustered with soil before putting the green purslane into her basket.  She made the most delicious salads using chopped fresh purslane (stems and all), chopped fresh tomatoes, and lemon juice!  How could she go wrong? Let's not forget the Ermerouk soup with ermerouk, barley or hulled wheat and water . . .And then  the Ermerouk geragour (կերակուր) --  a meal that started with sautéing onions, adding ground meat and browning, adding the purslane and stirring 'til wilted, and adding tomatoes . . . absolutely out of this world served over rice pilaf!

Soon stories of purslane abounded. . .

A cousin told Marash Girl that she had planted a tomato garden, and her grandfather could find no place in his new world to gather purslane: "My grandfather used to bring   handfuls of seeds and throw them into the rows  between my tomato plants so that he would have a ready source -- he had to warn me not to pull the weeds!"

Next Marash Boy told stories remembered from his childhood, stories of how Armenians used to bottle purslane during the depression . . . and die from it!  It seems that there were plants that would grow among the purslane, similar in configuration, but without a red stem -- and those (the ones WITHOUT the red stem) were poisonous!

Peter knew about purslane, although he never shared the information until Marash Girl had her own children:

"Perper will grow anywhere there's full sun and a bit of soil," he said,  "and if you call the plants weeds, you're dismissing the plant that was the very sustenance of life . . . during the genocide of the Armenians (1915-1922), that was often all the folks had to eat . . . Perper saved our lives."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Overheard in North Texas . . .

Overheard in a North Texas Family Room after watching TV show on savants . . .

Adoring wife to brilliant husband:  "You're my savant!"

Brilliant husband to adoring wife:  "You mean, I'm your servant!"

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Spanaklu Yumurta: Armenian Spinach/Egg Souffle

[On January 24, 2011, Marash Girl posted a link to her recipe for Spanaklu yumurta (Armenian Spinach & Eggs) a link leading to her posting as a guest blogger on her cousin's blog -- Unfortunately, that link is now defunct, so it is only appropriate that Marash Girl repost that recipe on her own blog, for it is a meal that no family should be without! Here goes.]

Spanaklu Yumurta, or Spinach/Egg Souffle: a meal that can be prepared for one or for many.  Traditionally served in Marash Girl's family on Christmas Eve.

For many:

Saute several yellow onions (peeled and chopped) in olive oil until slightly browned.  Add to the onions chopped, washed, dried baby spinach and stir until wilted. Set aside to cool.    Meanwhile,in a separate bowl, crack a dozen eggs.  Whip the eggs up with a wire whip and add salt, pepper, and Armenian red pepper.  Pour the eggs over the spinach and onion mixture.  Pour into greased pan and place in 450 degree preheated oven.  After 5 minutes, reduece oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Bake for 25 minutes longer, or until firm. (The Spanaklu will puff up and brown slightly when ready.) Cut into squares and serve.  This dish may be served as hors d'oeuvres or for lunch, hot out of the oven or cold the next day.  Delicious!

For an extra kick, add some freshly ground nutmeg to the egg mixture before baking!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Should there be a law against tipping?

Sometime in the early 1980's, Andy Rooney wrote an essay entitled "Tipping".  What was his position on tipping? No subtlety there.  In his opening sentence he states, "I'd be just as happy if they passed a law tomorrow making tipping illegal."  Marash Girl had just finished reading the essay [Andrew Rooney, AND MORE BY ANDY ROONEY. New York, Atheneum, 1982] when she turned on WBUR's Here and Now . . . Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson were asking food writer Corby Kummer of The Atlantic and Boston Magazine the question, "Is The Restaurant Tipping Model Bad For Waitstaff?"  Their position was not very far from Rooney's position in the 1980's.

Is it possible that Robin Young. Jeremy Hobson or Corby Kummer had ever read Rooney's essay before they did the show? (Marash Girl thought that she could hear Andy Rooney, long time 60 Minutes commentator, right there cheering them on!)  

If you are inclined to pursue this question further, check out Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson interviewing  Corby Kummer on WBUR and for sure, read those essays by Andy Rooney!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wild Mint? Armenian անուխ?

"I remember these flowers -- they used to be everywhere in Wilbraham," Marash boy commented as we walked to the corner of Maple Avenue.  There they were, in all their wild glory, proudly lifting their heads from the corner of the last driveway on the street, coming up through the gravel and asphalt.
Photo by Marash Girl, անանուխ by God
"Those aren't only flowers -- that's anoukh (անանուխ) -- mint!" Marash Girl exclaimed joyously. "That's why you saw it everywhere in Wilbraham!"

And not only was it mint, but it was the mint that Armenians use, and have always used -- not the mild tasteless mint of modern day, but the powerful dark green leafed mint that grows wild. . .

Marash Girl has always had a problem growing this mint because those of her family who insist on neat lawns somehow always mow down the mint growing along the edges of the lawn.  So this time, when Marash Girl took a small root of the wild mint to plant in her back yard, she surrounded the plant with large rocks.  Not a pretty sight, but the rocks may ensure that she reaps anoukh անուխ  next year!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Rattle in the Teraplane

Marash Girl recently expressed a concern over a squeaking in the left rear tire of her 10 year old Volvo, at which point Marash Boy recalled that as a young man, Marash Girl's father Peter used to drive a Teraplane. Peter, who always loved to regale his entourage with stories, often spoke of his Teraplane and how, when he would take a girl out for a ride in the car, she would complain: "Peter, there's a rattle in the back."  Peter, always quick to answer, would reply, "Do you want me to take it out so that you can play with it?"

N.B. The Terraplane was a car built by the Hudson Motor Car Company between 1932 and 1938.  Originally known as the Essex-Terraplane, the car became known as the Terraplane in 1934.  Marash Girl thanks Wikipedia for this information.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

You're right, too! - A favorite Nasreddin Hodja story

You're right! You're right! And you're right, too!  So Peter (an Armenian born in Marash, Western Armenia, in 1912, escaping the devastation of the Armenian genocide of 1915-1922, and living in the USA from the age of 9) would announce, laughing, as he listened to folks arguing about a heart wrenching topic.  (Marash Girl assumes that nothing could be as heart-wrenching or serious as what Peter had survived!)

It wasn't until years later that Marash Girl realized that her father Peter was playing the part of Nasreddin Hoja. . . And here's the story as told by her Turkish friend.

Two folks came to Nasreddin Hoja who was a Kadi (Judge) at the time.  They each presented their case.  Nasreddin Hoja tuned to the first and said, "You're right!"  After the second presented his case, Nasredding Hoja replied, "You're right!"  

"They can't both be right!" exclaimed an onlooker.

"And you're right too!" affirmed Nasreddin Hodja.

Marash Girl decided to go to the internet to see if she could find this ancient story, and she did: 

"Everyone is right!

Once when Nasreddin Hodja was serving as qadi, one of his neighbors came to him with a complaint against a fellow neighbor.
The Hodja listened to the charges carefully, then concluded, "Yes, dear neighbor, you are quite right."
Then the other neighbor came to him. The Hodja listened to his defense carefully, then concluded, "Yes, dear neighbor, you are quite right."
The Hodja's wife, having listened in on the entire proceeding, said to him, "Husband, both men cannot be right."
The Hodja answered, 'Yes, dear wife, you are quite right.'"

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Sun Shower and the Armenians

Saturday, at a conference on Armenian Folklore and Mythology held at the National Association of Studies and Research in Belmont, Massachusetts, Prof. Bert Vaux of Cambridge University discussed the geography of folkloric motifs, specifically "The Sun Shower -- in Armenia and Beyond".  Although Marash Girl will not attempt to recap the lecture, she will use it as a jumping off point . . .

Now if any of you have ever experienced a sun shower, it is a moment to be cherished --  to stand in the rain and have the sun shining down on you at one and the same time.  And Marash Girl does remember such a moment -- standing in her back yard on Lowell Avenue in Newtonville, many years ago, on her right hand the rain did fall while on her left the sun shone.  Imagine that -- it was actually raining on half of her and her back yard, and shining on the other half of her and her back yard.

Discussing this with Marash Boy after hearing the presentation "The Sun Shower -- in Armenia and Beyond", Marash Boy commented that he had never heard the term, "sun shower". Whenever the sun was shining through the rain, his mother would tell him, "Look up and you'll see a rainbow!"  Marash Girl had never heard that (nor had she heard, as Professor Vaux brought to the fore, that the sun shower in Armenia signals the fact that a wolf is giving birth in the mountains).  But that very next day, Sunday -- yesterday, in fact -- Marash Girl went out for her early morning walk and as she crossed the bridge over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton Corner (granted, not Armenia, nor a very rural or romantic setting), gentle drops of rain blessed her as the sun, rising in the east, shone on her -- she was amazed -- here after all these years, she was experiencing a sun shower, and not even 24 hours after Professor Vaux had been discussing the phenomenon.  Remembering Marash Boy's words, she looked up, and sure enough, there in the western sky was the rainbow Marash Boy had promised.

Whether or not the wolf was giving birth in the mountains, she cannot say.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cutler Park, Needham, Massachusetts: No peace for the city-weary!

Cutler Park, Needham, MA  Photo by Marash Girl
Cutler Park, Needham, MA - - As deafening as the cacophony from Route 128 (heard but not seen) 
Cutler Park, Needham, MA  Photo by Marash Girl
is the intimidation of the illegally off leash dogs romping the trails, their masters heedless of the signs.

                          Above, an abandoned well in Cutler Park -- an accident waiting to happen?
                                                                         Photo by Marash Girl

                              Is this the direction in which all of our public parks are headed?