Chapter 7: To the Park
He started walking, always heading eastward towards the lake. He saw many white students, and nearly as many Asian students on the campus as he traveled. He saw them surreptitiously staring at him as he passed, then looking quickly away. He paid no attention whatsoever, his mind was on seeing some green space, since he felt trapped in this urban environment, like a tiger in a cage.
He was on 55th street, and all was tidy and well kept. The buildings were all rather magnificent, large piles of brick and stone, devoted to learning. Finally he passed under an elevated train track, and he was getting nearer to the lake- he could smell it! Very large apartment buildings were all about him, and all he could think of was ‘why would anyone want to live in a tiny little box far above our mother earth?’ For Wulf was first and foremost a worshipper of Nature- the natural world was the fit setting for God, and also for man! When Wulf communed with God, he went out into Nature, which was the visible face of God in the world. Nothing made by man even approached it, and most things made by man quickly became tawdry and over-decorated. The traffic was awful, and the exhaust smoke offended him.
Finally, he reached the park, by first following a small tunnel beneath a huge roadway called Lake Shore Drive that literally swarmed with traffic. When he emerged on the other side, his long walk seemed well worth it- a beautiful swath of greenery, and a long beachfront beckoned him, along with outcroppings of rock elevations. Beyond a long paved path that ran along the beach; ‘Why pave it?’ he thought, ‘Why ruin God’s good earth?’, there protruded out into the lake a long peninsula that the sign proclaimed as Promontory Point.
This would be the place he could renew himself, he thought. Physically, if Wulf could not get out into the natural world on a daily basis, as he had for his entire life, he thought he would become physically sick. There was the crying of gulls, and a view of the city from out here that was impressive, but Wulf looked primarily at the land, the lake, and the beach! He could breathe out here, run on the beach barefoot, do pushups in the fresh air as far from the Drive as he could get. He set off to explore the whole park, which was overall called Burnham Park, which included the ‘Point’, and was over 600 acres in size.
Late that afternoon, Wulf finally reluctantly left the park to return to Nora’s place. He had come to think of her as “Nora”, since “grandmother” seemed strange to call someone A. that you didn’t really know, and B- that wanted your relationship to remain a secret. He headed back through the tunnel under Lake Shore Drive, this time returning on 57th street to see more of the area, since he had gone out on 55th. After a few blocks, he saw a large building down on South Stony Island, and he headed that way to investigate- it was Hyde Park Public High School, where Nora had enrolled him!