Swimmers stroke the summer waters of Lake Michigan, in the designated lane running along the Drive from above Navy Pier. To be a distance swimmer in a Great Lake is no small thing. More
Several historic homes we visited in New England offered reminders of the omnipresence of death in earlier times.
In one house, a large marble bust of a young man stood in the corner of the living room, the likeness of a son, age 19, who had gone upstairs after dinner and died. The same family had lost a 26-year-old daughter to colitis, sitting up with her in her bedroom in the final weeks of her life.
Loss and the possibility of loss dogged the everyday, making people perhaps more comfortable with death than we. On the grounds of the home of the sculptor Daniel Chester French, I encountered this funerary sculpture of a boy, with an arched path leading up to a bench for meditation nearby. I can imagine the husband and wife sitting on this bench, recalling their dead child, and pondering God’s nature and human love.
Each summer contemporary sculpture is installed in the park, and this summer a modern sculpture resembling a pregnant woman has been placed in between the bench and the boy.
A small girl in pink crocs flits past a tree that probably dates from colonial times. Over the centuries, its roots have painstakingly spread from its massive trunk, while generations of humans have beaten a path around it. A parade of humanity has intersected with this tree over time. Imagine the ghosts!
We enter an old wooden box made of mahogany, which carries us up several stories. In the garage, a nice man takes our suitcases and groceries out of our car and brings them up in the back elevator. We adhere to the rules of entry that announce our return from the country and govern the formal territory that we call home.
The back elevator is for dogs, and when you’re in a hurry. It smells, but people in it are more friendly. The front elevator induces an up-tight decorum. Conversation, if it occurs, tends to be brief and stilted. Once, though, I caught a little girl doing a handstand in it, her father looking on, with a sly smile on his face, doing nothing to stop her. Kids are kids after all, and we wouldn’t want her personality to be as square as the old elevator that we have to use.
The margin between land and lake is a wonderful and precarious space. The particularities of our earthly existence come smack up against something that is bigger and more bountiful but also more unnerving and vague.
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