Sunday, June 3, 2012

Found it!

Follow my lead        For the past month, I’ve worked on Mom’s yard, doing battle with it as if it shouldn’t be a jungle in the making. Years of benign neglect have left bushes looking like bulky and unkempt bouncers, guardians of her hidden front door. Using my Dad’s hand held snub-nosed clippers, I’ve trimmed and trimmed and trimmed.

Although what I did was necessary, it’s easy to see how severe my pruning had to be. If Mom’s decades old azalea and compacta and holly bushes were poodles, you’d agree that they’d just had their extreme summer shear. If you’d seen bags loaded with what I’d clipped, you might have congratulated me on eliminating the crowns of comb-overed growth.

It was that bad. As for the wide space between two of the bushes, a space that had lost its bush years ago, it appeared to be a sacred spot where nothing would grow. Having one less shrub to snip didn’t bother me at all. In fact, because I’d read about today’s Super Flea at the Greensboro Coliseum, I thought I might go to find just the right garden sculpture to fit the gap.

Before 1:00 p.m., I was there. Sadly, there seemed to be nothing super about the Super Flea other than the amount of time it took me to see it all. In less than fifteen minutes, I was on Interstate 40 East to Graham, NC. Surely, I told myself, I’d find something there at Willow Walk, Alamance County Arts Council’s 6th biennial Sculpture in the Park.

Little did I know that the Willow Walk sign I saw when I was one stop light away from the historical center of town had nothing to do with Graham. Nor was it related to the ante-bellum building with huge columns and its front yard statue of a 20’ tall couple dressed for an 1860’s ball. The sign that advertised Sculpture in the Park was four feet from the tall man’s calf.

That’s why I was convinced the sculpture was in Graham. All I had to do, in that little town of less than 15,000, was to find Willowbrook Park. Helpful people at six different places told me they’d never heard of it. One woman called her husband, then apologized because neither of them knew. I asked her how to get back to where I saw the sign.

“There’s a new building behind there,” she told me. “Maybe that’s it.”

Minutes later, I found the building. It appeared to be a classy science museum for children. On its front door was a sign that read, “Open Fall of 2012.” I was stuck. Even the guy who sold beer at the run down convenience store, my stop before asking the apologetic lady at the Dollar Store, didn’t have a clue.

It was almost five. According to the ad, that’s when the event  ended. Disappointed, I stared straight ahead at the parking lot to my right and its six empty police cars. A light shined: They should know, I told myself.

Inside was quiet as a library. Maybe quieter. “Never heard of it,” said the receptionist, a pleasant older lady who appeared to be content with waiting for her next call, even if it never came. “Let me check,” she said. I read about next week’s Police fundraiser and its $2 hot dogs.

“There’s a Willowbrook Park in Burlington,” she told me. “It’s easy to get to.”

Fortunately, it wasn’t far, and, although I drove past it three times, it was relatively easy to find. Just hard to spot from my car without my navigator. “Gotta be it,” I said, when I saw a small park that was less than a block wide, but longer than a football field. If there had been a sign, I’d missed it. When I pulled over to park, I saw sculptures, lots of them, 111 according to the catalog.

And they were open until 6:00. I was glad to be there, happy to be in what would have been a quiet little park bordered by a meandering stream but for the German Brass Ensemble, a group of six or eight men who were struggling with Edelweiss.

By the time I’d viewed all the sculpture, they’d begun to play Edelweiss again. I was content to listen, pleased that the fractured melody reminded me of the route I’d taken to get there. Although I’d found the perfect piece for Mom’s front yard, Ode On An I-Beam by Mike Roig, the city had already purchased it for $4000. I  thought about that too.

It had been a good day, full of new ideas. Maybe I’d build my own piece of art. Its design was coming to me. I’d get an old tuba and re-shape it to look like an airplane. Its winngs would be loosely attached; the entire thing would hang like a mobile ready to fly in whatever direction the wind might take it.

        B. Koplen 6/4/12

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