© Ruth Lopez
I don't need to keep a map of the Nichols Aboretum, home of the largest heirloom peony garden in the states, on my desk. I don't need to keep it at all, yet I refuse to toss it, choosing instead to shuffle it further and deeper into a pile of more ephemera — magazines, exhibition guides, theater programs. I disguise this pile of matter that I have trouble parting with in a stylish, fabric covered box. I have several such containers. They are orange; a contemporary office look that is so year before last. So, you ask, why are you telling me this now? Because it's time to clear out stuff. Dust. Breathe. Read and release. A move is on the horizon and maybe I have learned a thing or two after all about how to make difficult situations less painful. (Inner peace through organization & the joys of traveling light).
Before I put this folded map in the recycle bin, I want to tell you about the Geddes entrance at the south end of the park, far from the main entrance, because it is a most romantic place with its obelisk-like posts, decorative iron gate, and paths that dip down and disappear into woods and dense vegetation. The entrance was built in 1907. Along with the Nickel's Arcade (1916), one of my favorite places in Ann Arbor. The fact that it is on a busy road, with no nearby parking, keeps it a quiet space. (The website gives details on parking etc., and says the following: Please note that the Geddes Avenue entrance to the Arb (designated by wrought iron gates with the letters "UM") is about a 15 minute walk from the Peony Garden. Many GPS-based services default to this entrance with its historic ceremonial gates.) Yes. It does. I can attest to that very thing.
Why am I telling you about this sylvan spot but showing you an image of something barren and broken? Because it is just as beautiful. Last week, I took a friend on a birthday present adventure to some industrial ruins south of Chicago. We had our cameras, a thermos of green tea, and two slices of key lime pie which we consumed on a dirt road surrounded by tall prairie grass behind an abandoned cement factory. Along the way we see this sign and none of us has to say a thing. Even the car knows to stop.