The blank screen. What to put here today. Hmmm...I haven't met my caffeine quota yet. I woke up and was so thirsty, I'm on my third glass of water. I'll float to the privvy later. Now for some interesting content. Another Hmmmmmm...this winter has been long and lamentable. Not much snow but plenty of ice. A few weeks ago I visited Allerton Park near Monticello. It's only 60 miles from my door, but I had never been. A friend told me about it in terms of it "being special with an abundance of statues and gardens" and "I just had to see it". So I did.
The day was warm for January, though breezy. I drove down I-72 towards Champaign Illinois. Not much in the telling there, although I do remember seeing about 200 geese huddling in the sunshine along the banks of a farm pond. I wanted to get out and take their picture, but there was no where safe to park along the highway, so I just remembered them there, soaking up the sun. I took the Monticello exit and turned right down a seemingly barren frontage road. A sign finally directed me to head east towards Allerton Park. The road then slowly became tree lined, with branches and tree tops arching over the top of me as the dappled sunlight made it's way through the leafless stems. I wanted to take a picture there too, but a car was behind me. So again, I remembered the way those trees seemed so inviting and lovely, growing in a way that was graceful and flowing. Up over a hill and then to the left of me a farmhouse nestled in a cove-like little bit of woods. On to the next best thing, the actual park. I parked my rig next to a long cement building, never knew what that was for. Wandered across the road to an entrance secluded by a privet hedge, and walked through the opening gate. A very small sign said "Please close the gate behind you." I lifted the latch and walked through. Not much direction afforded, so I wandered at will. I was in a narrow strait of gardens lined with taller hedges, about 10 feet at least. Before me, I could see a silhouette of a statue, standing out taller than the hedge with the sun so perfectly blocked out behind it that the figure became illuminated. From my dark alley, I did take a photo.
There, out in the middle of the prairie- I thought: This is really something. I felt like pinching myself, could it be that someone felt so fully of life that they just couldn't help but sharing something of themselves and their love of beauty and Illinois that they just smack dab dumped a ton of money into a park for nature and art's sake? I learned later, that is just what they did.
I will include a link in case you want to go. I did not fully see the whole park, I was merely on a quick trip to see where I might take my Big Fish when he visits in a few weeks. I imagine he and I will walk hand in hand through the trails and patches of woodlands. He is an artist and might appreciate the parks perks and minuses. The simplicity of Allerton is what makes it so accessible to anyone. I think we are each to find something of ourselves there, by meandering or sitting in the perfect spot for our precise spirit. Again, there is not much direction afforded at the park's entrance- perhaps that is what makes it so alluring. To wander, to stumble upon, to sit, to become immersed in the sensual, serene beauty of Allerton Park. Highly recommended.
(I researched a bit about what other folks had to say about the park, a most common comment was "serenity".)