Column by Timothy Hull
The column “Trail Sketches” ran in the Warwick Valley Dispatch from the 1930s through the early 1970s and was the personal literary project of George Hansen. Warwick resident Timothy Hull will continue the legacy of the Trail Sketches column; to write short little windows into the people, places and things that make Warwick unique.
A Low Profile Park
In this strange and isolated time period we’re currently living in, one does need to get outside into some fresh air. So, the other day I wracked my brain about somewhere likely free of people where I could walk and enjoy the peace of nature. I remembered the old Lewis Woodlands in the Village of Warwick, having taken a field trip there in Mrs. Reinhardt’s third grade class.
Since that time, it had all but fallen out of my consciousness. Maybe because the Lewis Woodlands keeps a very low profile, tucked at the bottom of Robin Brae, off Maple Ave. Once the lofty, rambling gardens and arboretum of the Fowler’s, a wealthy local family, the woodlands now show only faint traces of a faded glory.
With the Victorian-era mansion long since destroyed, a few mid-century houses plopped on graceful sloping once-verdant hills, the Woodlands is not a jewel at first glance. Yet it’s a diamond in the rough! The rambling trails, in some places bordered by small stones, follow along slight ravines and the fast moving and mysterious Witch’s brook.
Visitors, who will discover scant parking spaces, will happen upon dramatic rock outcroppings and the vestiges of once spectacular specimens of trees. To those who are observant, you may even discover the remains of a field stone promenade and a decadent concrete fountain which birds sometimes bathe in. There is much to delight if you know how to look closely and piece together history.
There, but for the generosity of Mrs. Madison Lewis, the park is a symbol of Warwick’s legacy of preserving special spaces for the public. A recent early November snow storm of particular destructiveness felled many trees, creating a messy crisscross of diagonal lines throughout the viewsheds. The park is now like an old man with a tattered tweed vest wondering where everyone has gone.
Perhaps all this park needs are a few more friends – and not ones who tromp and violate spaces but those who can be caretakers and cultivators of it. If you do visit, be gentle with your presence. Look up at the cathedral ceiling of tree branches and ponder the motivations of the people who planted many of them, just for the sake of future generations.