One week ago, puppy Shadow and I took our morning walk, this time on campus, with my iphone, for photos. The Indiana University campus, newly emptied of students, was displaying its usual astonishing spring greening, and we wanted to partake.
Shadow, of course, was on the hunt for squirrels, and tended to keep the lead between us taut with anticipation.
I wanted to focus on these features: patterns in the glorious limestone walls of the IU buildings, doorways of various kinds, woodland vistas, rewilding features, and statues — with a few other random shots.
Besides the profusion of trees, lawns and flowers, the dominant feature of IU is its limestone buildings. Did you know that the Empire State Building, the Pentagon, and the Washington Monument — are all faced with Indiana limestone?
Here’s one of those rock-faced walls on campus, with of course, flowers.
Here’s another limestone wall, with plants, including hostas, below — hard not to learn their name, when they seem ubiquitous in the midwest. I don’t remember ever seeing hostas (or daylilies, for that matter) in D.C., Cambridge, desert Idaho, northern California or mountain Wyoming — places I’ve lived prior to settling here.
In the years since we’ve been walking in Bloomington, I notice that wherever the IU students wear a path through the grass, the university eventually turns into a brick path, so that there are lots of crisscrossings —
Above, we’re going through Dunn Woods, which the university has, so far, saved — this woods lost at least a dozen trees during the big wind of I think it was April 2012, but you’d hardly notice that devastation now. Overall, as I recall, around 300 trees on university property went down, plus another 300 throughout Bloomington. Since there are so many many trees, it’s hard to notice now what happened then. This is one of the few places in the world where I don’t need a sun hat when I walk, even for miles, so wonderfully shady it is in usually hot, humid summertime, when we tend to walk in the very early mornings.
Here we are, in the woods, coming upon the first of the statues, Adam and Eve. Shadow used to be afraid of them, did he think the figures were “real”?
Here’s a particularly beautiful detail on a new building: a curved limestone wall to hold back the earth from the windows:
Here’s my favorite little wooden bridge. We first walked it the evening I arrived in Bloomington. My late husband Jeff had arrived two weeks earlier, having decided to go to law school in the middle of his life. He wanted to show me the route he would take, walking to class. It was an early August evening, when we walked together to the profusion of little foreign cafes on 4th Street from our new home on Overhill for dinner. I was utterly entranced, the entire two-mile journey there. I had no idea it would be our first and last walk. I left for Europe and Massachusetts about a week later, saw him at son Sean’s home at Christmas in Massachusetts, and arrived back at our new home in Indiana only 24 hours before he died, of a heart attack, on January 3. My book, This Vast Being, is a tribute to him, to our journey together, and my experience of conscious grieving — alone but for his company — during the following year.
That was in 2003. This bridge triggers that memory of our first and only walk upon it, guaranteed, each time I walk it since.
I wish I automatically knew what the name and habits of a tree by knowing the color and texture of its bark.
Such nobility! Every time I ask a tree to give me its spacious blessing, every time I stand under a noble tree and touch it, moving into silence, it speaks. Speaks of oneness, of connecting all with everything, roots underground, trunk, branches and leaves above, thrusting to the sky, reaching for all other beings, shimmering, waving, in silent steady compassionate witness to the human tumult below.
Sweet little benches dot the landscape. This one on the edge of Dunn Woods.
Herman G. Wells, beloved president of IU from 1938 to 1962 who, among other notable advances, brought Alfred Kinsey to town, sits in splendor on his own plaza. You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve seen sitting there, next to him, in the same pose, one hand outstretched.
Continued in Part 2.