"Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling. From glen to glen, and down the mountainside. The summer's gone, and all the roses falling, It's you, it's you must go and I must bide."
From the Traditional Irish melody ‘Danny Boy’
It’s November 27th and the weather is cooling down in the city of brotherly love. Each hot breath from my lungs turns into white steam, blooming in the cold air just like wintersweet, and yet, it is still a day of adequate delightfulness. The early morning wind bites, and my roommate and I are on the Philadelphia vintage tramcar. "Vincent,” my roommate says, “Trust me, Fairmount Park is the best park in Philadelphia, and it is ‘prachtig’ (meaning wonderful in Dutch).” A few minutes pass by, and we arrive at Fairmount station.
Once we got off the tramcar, the Neoclassical buildings leap to our eyes. I recalled some of the buildings in Edinburgh, Scotland, that was of similar design; such as the Royal Scottish Academy building. There, the wind blew off the leaves from the trees, a vivid yellow, and red. How incomparable beauty is from nature. The memory took me even further back to when I was in New Hampshire, and there was a sidewalk behind my high school I used to take a half-hour walk on every day after school, just to see the trees and leaves. For me, spending time with nature and God is a way I set myself free from heavy academic work, fickleness and noisy life.
Nature is a preeminent artist, the world full of his works and grace. In Fairmont Park, we walked into a peaceful garden and were surrounded by more grass and trees. The grass was starting to turn yellow, and there were only a couple leaves left standing on top of the tree. Yet, I was still amazed by the world, and much like the song by Louis Armstrong, ‘What a wonderful world’ it is indeed. I then started to appreciate God more. I’m grateful for the people in my life, such as my family and friends who support me all the time. I’m grateful to the enemy, who makes me stronger, and everything in my life; every opportunity that I sized and every person that I’ve met in my life. People always say that it is easy to receive, but harder to give.
I stood in front of a statue of Franz Schubert, made in 1891. The age of it lifted the brown and dark marks on his face, and it was a little bit horrible. The statue seemed like Dracula from Bram Stoker's fiction novel. But as an artist, I admired Franz Schubert very much. There is a song by Ave Maria I like to listen to over and over again during Church. My roommate, who is a true artist, told me that there must be a reason that classical music came to be so old. I think, nowadays, popular music can wash people's brains, but only classical music can clean people's hearts.
A few hours later, we sat on a dilapidated wooden chair, and we stared at an imposing museum. Herman J. Schwarzmann designed the museum’s building in 1874. From far away the building had an excellent likeness with the Reichstag in Germany, the designer actually referred to the Reichstag in Berlin. For me, the most attractive part was the Pegasos statues in front of the building, because I yearn for the freedom the Pegaso has. When I was a child, Greek Mythology was what enlightened me to western culture and literature. I love history and different cultures, it was one of the reasons I became a Temple University student. I dreamed of one day living in an environment full of rich history and culture.
At Temple University, we are surrounded by vintage buildings made centuries ago, not only representing how Temple has a beautiful campus, but also the rich history within it. Most importantly, the unique campus culture makes Temple proud, and you can find students there from all over the world. I believe the environment can be a big influence on a person; it can shape people’s values about the world.
When we walked out of the park, it was already evening. I walked down the sidewalk beside Schuylkill River. When we saw the Boathouse Row, more memories flashed in front of my eyes. Years ago, when I was in Zurich, Switzerland, I saw the same style of boathouses beside the Zurichsee River with my classmates, and we talked about the dream colleges that we wanted to get into. Three years later, I achieved my dream, and I got into Temple University and moved to a city that I loved. Though you may be in a similar place at a different time; your destiny is in your hands, do not fear and pursue your dreams without regrets.
In the end, my roommate and I ended up in the Greek building behind the Philadephia Museum of Art. With slight rain, the sky showed an unusual pinky. My roommate and I got lost in a fantasy that took us far away from the real world.
So what is autumn in Philadelphia? Is it a Vintage Tramcar? Is it Revivalism? Is it the Boathouse Row and tranquil garden? Perhaps all. In Philadelphia, a global city, you can find any style. The inclusive, expansive, and melting pot have become an irreplaceable card that Philadelphia shows to the world. What feels like autumn in Philadelphia? What is the spirit of Philadelphia? I found my answers in the streets of Fairmount Park.
Zenan ’Vincent’ Shen of The People’s Republic of China is a part of the Center for American Language and Learning at Temple University in Philadelphia.