My husband will tell you he had a “Norman Rockwell” childhood – mostly because of the neighborhood he grew up in. The community swimming pool was a stone’s throw from his front door, most of his friends lived within a few blocks, and when he wasn’t playing marbles in the alley, he was down by the creek searching for frogs and salamanders. His mom moved out of the house he grew up in a few years ago, but we still take Ty and Buster back to visit his old stomping grounds and go for a stroll down memory lane.
It’s funny how you imagine things never change when you don’t see them. This phenomenon is most noticeable with kids … cousins I think of as toddlers have grown into sulky pre-teens between visits, and pre-teens have become ambitious young adults. The same thing happens with places. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the past, and nostalgia leaves you pining for the way things were. But once in a while the metamorphosis is enchanting, and you’re mesmerized by how the things you remember from the past have been rewoven into a beautiful new present.
Just below street level in West Reading, Pennsylvania – where the Museum Road bridge crosses Wyomissing Creek – is the Reading Public Museum Park and Arboretum. Those who spent their formative years along this winding waterway might recall the park as an overgrown bog, perfect for games of hide-and-seek in the early days, and stealing your first kiss as you got older. If that’s how it still exists in your mind’s eye – wait until you see it now! And grab the leash, because the whole park is dog friendly.
Paved paths now follow the banks of the creek, with benches strategically placed for the best views, and green fields stretching out along both sides of the water. Gorgeous foliage and blooming trees catch your eye as you pass by, flowers perfume the air, and ducks babble from shaded pools.
There are formal gardens, and meditative corners where you can let the healing music of the creek wash over you.
The path continues into Wyomissing Park, where the Stone House – once a make-shift youth center by day and raucous teenage gathering spot on weekends – has undergone a lovely restoration. The building, overlooking the pond / ice skating rink is now available for rent to borough residents for partings and meetings.
We easily spent a couple hours exploring the park – much longer than we anticipated! Next time we’ll be better prepared and stop at one of the fun new eateries on Penn Avenue for take out before making our way over the to creek for a picnic.
Have you visited the Reading Public Museum Park and Arboretum? Did you enjoy your visit? Leave us a comment below!