Thursday, July 27, 2017

Austin Journal: Barton Springs Revisited

watercolor by Hallie Cohen
Remember the famous Thomas Eakins painting, “The Swimming Hole?” Go to Barton Springs in Austin on a hot day in July with the thermometer soaring to 102 and you’ll find the effect of the classic of American art on a grand scale. The Springs is a pond abutted by hilly grasslands on both its sides. Because it’s fed by underground water, it's always refreshingly cold, no matter how hot the city becomes. On a recent weekend the Springs was the only show in town, an oasis from the heat that created a public spectacle, in which a cross section of local humanity found a respite from sizzling sidewalks. There were hundreds of men, women and children, reflecting Austin’s cosmopolitan geographic, participating in a spectacle that might be termed a public idyll. A shallow section was devoted to small children, then in the middle was a diving board in which a diva wearing a winged costume received an ovation after doing a backflip. Further down was a long open expanse affording a magnitude that no normal municipal pool  could approximate. The Springs is both grand yet remarkably intimate and peaceful.  It’s a recreation area that feels like one of those magical little hideaways that you come upon in a hidden glade. 

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