Secret Garden (August 5, 1988)
It was my birthday. We were all together. The children were determined to do all the things that were particularly pleasurable to me. We walked to the uptown art fair. We picnicked by the fountain at Orchestra Hall. It was Somerfest. The band had dedicated a song in honor of my birthday. I wondered why they had bothered to mention my age. I remember the grandchildren dancing.
Our next stop was the sculpture garden, starring Claes Oldenburg and Cooje von Bruggen's twenty-nine foot high "Spoonbridge and Cherry." I can see the grandchildren waving from the Whitney overpass bridge.
It was a small cave in a grassy knoll. You were not entirely enclosed. It became an upside down cave, opening to the sky. I remember stooping to enter. There was an instant feeling of seclusion and timelessness. A deafening quiet reigned. We'd pushed the city's mute button at its very heart. Gradually, a soothing water sound entered in, water trickling over rocks and moss. There was the sweet, subtle fragrance of woodland grasses, wild flowers, warm, damp earth. I remember saying to my daughter, "I love this place. I never want to leave."
She assured me I never had to leave, that, when I left physically, I had only to close my eyes and come back whenever I wished. What a magical mode for a mind to possess!
That beautiful sculpture of nature is no longer there. There's a very disturbing sense of loss, to go to a place and find it gone. But be patient. Let the trash of the day ebb away, and it will come. It will come, and I will be there again. You can also almost be somewhere you've been, like the foot of His cross, but perhaps I was there. I feel it so. I know it so. I can almost feel the hand of a loved one, gone from me and living in eternity.
Then we joined hands in our tender circle near our beloved cave and sang "Happy Birthday," and the tears came, the whipped cream of the Holy Spirit. Then the flamboyant, final, festive flourish...Claes Oldenburg's gigantic gray spoon and merry cherry!
by Colleen Gordon