Hampstead Heath, March 2011

Hampstead Heath isn’t so much a garden as a park. And it isn’t so much a park as a London institution, with one of the best vantage points from which to view the city.

I went on what turned out to be a rainy, overcast spring day.

One of my continuing obsession with close-up photos of flowers. I've gotten in the habit of drawing them, perhaps to use in the PhD novel.

Hampstead is so large that it is difficult to get a hold of it, to see it as anything other than a long stretch of green interrupted by water features, hills, and even houses. I was surprised that neighborhoods–mansions even–abutted it, almost as if the Heath were the back garden to these houses. But I suppose that must be how large tracts of greenspace existed before large cities grew up around villages and towns. And London, being as old as it is, is likely to have spaces that have been kept for this purpose, rather than in newer cities where parkland has to be planned in among the houses and strip malls, placed where they aren’t a traditional part of people’s lives.

If I were feelign more romantic, I'd say fantastical creatures definitely lived in this tree.

Eight million people live here, and I see new faces–hundreds and thousands of them–every day. Yet on this day as I walked in the woods I came upon someone I met a few months ago in a class. For such a big city, it can be rather small at times. And that is, also, another function of a place like the Heath: it’s where people go to be anonymous, to be part of the bigger world beyond London’s borders and away from each section’s high street.

The view--a foggy one--from the top of Parliament Hill. When I was there I could recognize some of the buildings by their shape, but now they're lost in the haze.

From the Heath, London is ‘out there’ somewhere, rather than just across the road in each direction.

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