I had a pleasant walk with the German shepherd this Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend: cool and quiet in Inman Park.
We walked past Delta Park, near the intersection of Edgewood and Euclid.
It made me think of something I read about years ago: a theory or model in environmental psychology. (Yes, there is such a thing.)
It holds that human beings have evolved an innate preference for landscapes that have features contributing to mystery and complexity, on the one hand, and legibility and coherence, on the other.
We humans like the idea that there’s something out there to explore (mystery, complexity), and at the same time we want to be able to make sense of what we’re seeing (coherence, legibility).
Put differently, if I’m a hunter-gatherer, I don’t want to get attacked and eaten by a tiger hidden in the deep underbrush, but it’d be nice to think that I can find my way to something that I myself can eat.
Here’s a view of Springvale Park from the Euclid Avenue embankment. Do you see how a person might feel there’s a good balance here among those qualities? Not scary, but also not boring. You can find your way in to explore, and you can also find your way out so that you don’t end up having to live off of roots and berries in Springvale Park for the next year or two.
I have an idea that this model — attributable to the husband-and-wife team Stephen and Rachel Kaplan — can operate on a subtle level.
With Delta Park, I worry that that low tree canopy might be inhibiting people, at a subconscious level, from making full use of the park. Something in their brains is saying: “Beware!”
Could lifting and thinning the crowns of these trees help? I’d like to find out. I’ll need to remove entirely or, in some cases, reduce the length of selected lower and mid-canopy limbs. Honestly, the trees are big enough that I’d prefer to pay a professional to do it, but I think we can manage.
It’s important to note that I’ve unfortunately let some of these branches get big enough that I could risk introducing too much decay into these thriving oaks and maples. So we’ll need to be careful.
Stay tuned for a set of “after” photographs this fall or winter.