Some of my fondest childhood memories are walking, riding my bike or roller skating to my neighborhood park. Marcus Park was my personal paradise where I played basketball, softball, kickball, hopscotch and even chess. My best friend and I shared secrets on the swings and made up stories while leisurely pushing the merry-go-round. This little plot of public land was an essential part of my everyday life and helped form my love of the great outdoors.
Through books, I was able to explore public lands beyond my neighborhood. When I was a young child, Make Way for Ducklings took me to the Public Garden in Boston and Brighty of the Grand Canyon instilled a lifelong desire to explore that great National Park. As an adult, I laughed my way through Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods and started planning my own trek on the Appalachian Trail.
Of course, movie directors have discovered the dramatic potential of public lands such as the cliff-hanging Mount Rushmore scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
Plus, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Roy Neary’s (Richard Dreyfuss) UFO obsession leads him to an isolated mountaintop, aka Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the nation’s first national monument.
Saturday, September 30 is National Public Lands Day, a day to volunteer and help restore or improve your neighborhood, city, state, or national park, forest, monument or shoreline. And after you have finished volunteering how about discovering other publicly owned lands and waterways in these books and movies.