Big Park, Weird Place

City Park in New Orleans reflects the city around it. Normal on paper, a collected assortment of glitter and blight in practice. It possesses many features that one might associate with a regular “park” like swings (probably), shade-making trees, (certainly), and strung-out pagans. (periodically) City Park has lots of great sections where a combination of post-katrina neglect and post-katrina binge-drinking have seemingly coalesced into questionable choices. Questionable, but borderline charming all the same.  Among it’s chief contents that set it apart from regular parks of the first world are:

-A strange silo behind a cafe full of black swans and weird ducks where they roost and lay eggs, to what end, I have no idea. They don’t seem to be collected, and nobody appears to be even aware of the space
-A tiny train big enough for children to ride and small enough for me to use to act-out scenarios wherein I am Godzilla
-A Stadium bearing the unfortunate name “Tad Gormley”
-A formerly dilapidated golf-course, left to fall entirely into disrepair after Katrina complete with impassibly tall grass, scary abandoned snack-shacks, and (probably) the ghosts of golfers who died
-Alligators, golden pheasants, and wild pigs
-A small cafe featuring the most down-trodden staff that I have personally witnessed in a city that runs on the energy made from crushing the souls of service industry workers
-A park-within-the-park that features life-size versions of storybook and fairy-tale characters, presumably to induce terror in children and ruin their childhood tales forever

Of all the strange trinkets the park has to offer up to the observant soul, the crown jewel for me is the Singing Oak, or Chime Tree. A massive live oak tree stands alone in a field at the front of the park. Within the branching boughs someone has hung chimes of all different sizes and shapes. They are painted black, presumably to blend in with the shadowed branches of the tree. With a huge range in size (the longest reaching over 14 feet), the dozens of chimes act as a random-theme generator, different and swaying, but tuned with the goal of harmony.

Chime Time


Unless one takes the time to actually walk out underneath the tree, the mystic symphony will go unheard. The Singing Oak, however, does not take requests. I sat underneath it for nearly forty minutes requesting fairly simple American songs, and it did not seem able to even play the simplest ones. But I guess it’s still cool.


2 thoughts on “The Singing Oak (The Chime Tree)

  1. M. Long, your post is marvelous. “Glitter and blight” – what a perfect description of New Orleans. I’ve only visited that fair city twice but fell deeply in love with it (as many have before me). I’m saving this post to remind me to find the Singing Oak / Chime Tree one day. PS: I’m not sure if you are headed to NYC any time soon, but if you do, please trek out to Dead Horse Bay for a Feeled Recording. Dead Horse Bay is a small inlet beach and former early 20th century dump. As the sand erodes, the old shoes and teacups and soda bottles are brought to the surface. The tide is awash with old bottles, a sad tinkling in the surf.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That sounds so cool! I have a friend up there who keeps demanding that I come visit, so eventually I will have to give in to peer pressure, and I’ll definitely check that out. Sincerely, thank you for your comment. I’m kind of blown away that anyone is actually out there, so it’s nice to know! Take care!


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