There are eight stone rings, known as council rings, in Lincoln Memorial Garden in my town of Springfield, Illinois. This is number the scene at ring number 7.
I pass it each time I walk the perimeter of the garden, which is once a week as part of my exercise routine. The scene has me stop and stare each time I pass by. There’s something both visually interesting and perhaps more than that which I cannot directly perceive.
I take at least one photograph each time I walk by, seeking the elusive image that will bring out that certain something that touches my spirit. I usually carry only the lens on my camera during my walks in the garden. I limit my lens selection to both lighten my load and to force me to see with that point of view. It helps me get to know the limits and scope of the lens, and pushes me to be creative within the self-imposed limitation.
At this point in my journey on the paths of the garden that wind through the forest by Lake Springfield, I go from a solitary path to this clearing, which is at the nexus of four paths. The council ring gives a sense of gravity to the space. Also anchoring the scene is the large tree at the left of the frame, which has a low-hanging branch that reaches out over nearly the entire width of the clearing.
I can imagine many different groups of school children, sitting around the ring, listening to one of the volunteers tell tales of the garden, educating the young minds about the forest. I see pairs of lovers, hands held together as they slowly walk the paths, talking about their future, laughing with delight at something the other said. There might be solitary walkers, such as me, or runners, choosing a more interesting place to exercise than a pavement path.
What I didn’t see were the hundreds of carved initials, symbols and dates that cover that large tree to the left. I always pass to the right of this scene, never taking the other three of the four paths. Only when I zoomed in as I was processing the photo, did I see the recorded tracings of so many, etched into the bark of the tree. The tree seems to be holding up under the damage. I hope it continues its long life.
Fascinating to discover what was right before my eyes but missed so many times I passed by.
Here’s to Rob, who put his initials inside a circle in May of 1999. Yes, the carving is still there.
There’s more of this wonderful garden to explore. I shall do my best to get onto the other trails soon, to see what delights lay in wait for me to discover.