Adirondack chair

Reality Check Point #3:
Admiring the Garden

            They will pull up to the gate, pay for parking, find a spot in what they hope will be afternoon shade, pay admission, survey the map of the grounds, and enter the beauty of Wood Lawn Botanical Garden.
            They will spend all day there, for the gardens are various and large.  The Italian fountains are surrounded by roses, red and white.  Walls are covered with yellow roses, espaliered, rich in blooms.  The topiary garden transforms hedge into duck, rabbit, turtle.  The collections of rhododendron, of lily, of hydrangea, nearly exhaust the eye.  The ponds are filled with water lilies of every color, koi of every stripe and mottling.  And the maze is legend, in the center an ancient apple tree, and a basket of apples, always full, that each visitor might have a prize.
            They will admire, speaking in whispered delight.  They will be astonished, surprised, taken aback by sprays of color, symmetry in design, statuary classical and modern.  They will comment on the splendor of what was once the home and grounds of a wealthy family, proud owners of a textile mill, the whole of it now given over to a private foundation, the estate and grounds a training ground for horticulturalists all over the United States and the world.
            They will not think about what made such splendor, such grandeur, possible.  The crooked deals with banks, railroads, and suppliers.  The terrible wages that left workers hungry.  The fourteen hour work days that left women sleepless, exhausted, finally ill.  They will not think of untimely deaths.  They will not see children sent home with bleeding fingers, returning to bleed another day.  Or the missing fingers and hands.
            They will see the rows of dwarf cherry trees, in full fruit, and not rows of young women at their machines, their eyes straining in the dark, the doors locked against their escape.  In radiant sunshine, they will not think of fiber and smoke-choked air.  The calls of a red cardinal among the plate-sized hibiscus will not call up the wheezing of a brown lung, the coughing tubercular expectorating into the streets of 19th century New England.
            Beauty, they know, is often born of hard work, even suffering.  That wealthy family created lasting beauty.  But they did not suffer.  Under each hedge is a worker driven to an early grave.  Each yellow lily is the jaundiced face of a sick baby.  Each red rose is a bloom of blood coughed onto a dirty sheet.
            Visitors will admire the garden without questioning how the wealth of its ostentatious owners was gained.  They might spot an occasional weed, but they will not stop to pull it.  They will simply curse it for marring the perfection of their visit to such a splendid estate.  On their way home, they will sigh, remembering the terraces, the greenhouses crowded with ancient tropicals, the waterfall that rushed down the built rock wall, the bridal garden blooming white flowers.  They will sleep in innocence while the plants in the garden continue to explore the depth of the earth’s darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stone slab

 

Bench

 

Adirondack chair

 

Bench

 

 

 

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