A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever: Part 1 in my Favorite Places on Earth

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We’ve been studying place-making and the roles of place and memory this week. In tribute to that, and in honor of being “back home again in Indiana,” I’m going to share some of my secrets with you. YOU, dear readers, get to know my super-secret favorite places in the whole wide world, starting today with Indianapolis.

Today I got to visit my one of my dearest Favorite Places in the Whole World: Oldfields, the Lilly House and Gardens on the campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Or rather, the IMA is on the grounds of Oldfields. The first time I drove around the corner and had my first glimpse of the grand white house, my heart leapt. It was love at first sight. I never got over it. I’m still head over heels for that place. A thing of beauty is indeed a joy forever, and Oldfields makes me just as happy now as it did back then.

I had the privilege of interning there when I was in grad school, and got to know the house and grounds like the back of my hand.  Features include: the sweeping green allee leading up to the stately white house, the statue of the Three Graces at the opposite end of the allee. Also, the formal garden with the white archways, the informal gardens where the paths wander and bend to create a sense of discovery, a ravine garden and creek, statues, a romantic white whispering bench, and GOLDREDYELLOW leaves at this time of year. I worked here, played here, studied here, had picnics here, a romantic interlude, and felt closer to God here.

Bonus – my SUPER SECRET fav-o-rite place: 100 Acres Woods. When I was here in Indianapolis, this was an undeveloped back part of the estate that I think was largely a secret that only the IMA staff and a few daring residents knew much about. I would wander in the woods between the lake and the White River over my lunch hours and on Sunday afternoons, giddily enjoying my secret lake and forest. There aren’t many places in this big city where one can go be alone in nature, and I relished it.

The IMA has since turned this back acreage into the 100 Acres -an innovate outdoor art and nature park. Before I saw it for the first time today, I had been a little bit worried that this development would have negatively altered the character of my favorite wandering-around spot, but it actually enhanced it. While 100 Acres isn’t my very  own secret anymore, I was actually really happy to see so many people enjoying it on this pretty fall afternoon. I loved that people were playing on the swings, looking at the gigantic skeleton sculpture, and staring out at the tiny island and ship. Also, the trails behind the lake are greatly improved and easier to navigate. There are even smart little arrows pointing out beaver chomps, tiny trees, and other serendipitous forest features. I was happy that someone else loves that lake and woods as much as I do, and that they created more things of beauty in tribute.

To Oldfields, with love, from me.

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