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Posts Tagged ‘Wilder Park in Elmhurst’

At the end of a rather busy day. I impulsively pulled into the parking lot in Elmhurst’s Wilder Park. I had not been to the Conservatory in a long while, so, thought I would take a few minutes to see what was flowering and to bask in the calm, rejuvenating presence of place. As I pulled into a parking spot, my breath was caught by the kiss of a breeze on the wave of rows of flags. Memorial Day was but a few days away.

My steps took me toward a direction I had not planned. I bypassed the conservatory and ascended the steep steps of the historic Wilder Mansion. The Mansion was closed, but, I took the advantage that the elevated steps would afford me of a different view of the flags.

The flags are placed in remembrance of those who died while in service to their country. They called Elmhurst home; a home that honors them in this park and in other locations on Memorial Day. I was moved by the flags; by what they represent and the sacrifices made by each life and by their loved ones. I said a silent prayer. A young woman, camera in hand, passed by, looked up at me, and climbed the flight of stairs as well.

As I looked out across the landscape, I could see what looked like a large marker just beyond the flags, and decided to walk the small distance of grass, past the flags, to have a closer look. As I walked, the breeze touched the flags, revealing cards which held the names of those who had died. Two children ran between the rows and I thought it about how the sacrifices of those these flags represent gave us a country where children could frolic free and happy on a warm spring day.

The monument I saw in the background was one that had eluded me for several years. I knew it was in Wilder Park,  I just wasn’t successful in finding it. The flags on the lawn and my perch on the steps revealed it to me.

This monument is to honor those from Elmhurst who lost their lives in Vietnam and commemorating the Moving Wall that stood in this park in 1988.

Visiting the Moving Wall in Wilder Park in 1988 was a humbling experience and, I think, a somewhat healing experience for many. It was there that I found the name of a boy from school days; elementary school and high school. It was there we witnessed a friend, head bowed, tears in his eyes. We had not known that he served in Vietnam, nor that most of his squadron had died. His wife had not known he had come to the Moving Wall – alone. It was there I saw a prominent member of the community bow his head and stand. His fraternity brother was named on that wall. It was there that I brought some work friends during our lunch hour, and there one of the principles of the company we worked for went. A few minutes late getting back from lunch, he heard mention of the Moving Wall. He asked me for directions and left. Returning later, he came up to my desk and quietly thanked me. I had not known until that moment that he had served in Vietnam.

I walked from the monument, past the flags and on to the permanent veterans’ memorial in another section of the park. It is here that the annual Elmhurst Memorial Day parade ends and it is here where a military ceremony is held after the parade. It is here where white crosses have been placed in honor and memory of those who gave their lives.

It is not just in Elmhurst, nor just in the United States where memorials are held for fallen military, but, it was here, in this park, where I was, yet again, humbled by the service and the loss of those for whom we take a this Monday at the end of May to honor.

May we always remember.

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DSCN5025I wanted to write a nice, long, tantalizing post about our upcoming garden walk on Sunday. Unfortunately, with the torrential rains we’ve had this weekend, we find that the arrangement of the park for the vendors’ stalls needed to change drastically early Saturday morning – and we couldn’t do much because it was pouring down hard, with at least two more fronts predicted to come in during the day, and more overnight. So, I’ve been working, trying to rearrange vendors, who are used to being under the shade of  stately elms and oaks in historic Wilder Park. The park, especially under the trees, is sodden, which can become slippery, dangerous, and which could be damaging to artwork.  The plan just had had to be rearranged with no idea what the park will be like on Sunday morning. It’s rather like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as the adage goes.

All will be, for the garden gods manage to smile down upon us each year, but, just in case they are as tired of the rain as the rest of us, would you mind sending some good thoughts our way. You see, the money we make from the walk goes toward scholarships.

Last year, we award $12,000 in college scholarships as well as donations to local endeavors and we were able to send funds to help replant trees in tornado ravaged Washington, Illinois. Not bad work for a small band of women with dirt under their nails.

The six private gardens are lush and inviting and it would be such a shame for the homeowners to not be able to open their garden gates. I wish you could all see them. Two are historic homes with gardens that reflect their history and the good earth stewardship of their owners. One is a new house, superbly landscaped, with a lived-in feel. A bachelor has a remarkable oasis on a small lot, and, well, I could go on and on, dear reader, but, I hear thunder rumbling in the distance and the wind is kicking up, so, I best be getting back to my list.

Here’s hoping the sun dries up all the rain tomorrow. I’ll try to take some pictures.

If you are in the Chicagoland area, you can still buy tickets and get information at http://www.elmhurstgardenwalk.com

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The heart of an ancient tree

I gasped when I saw it the first time around. I circled again and there it was – or, I should say, wasn’t. A break in the rhythm of life. A snap in the storm. The heart of an ancient tree exposed. This stately tree, an elm I believe, more than one hundred years old, close to two, I’m sure, had been snapped by the wild, ugly winds on Tuesday night and took a few others down in its fall. I wanted to weep when I saw it, broken and tied with police tape, like a crime scene.

It is sad to see a tree felled by nature or man, isn’t it? I think it cuts to the core for many of us, like losing a trusted old friend.

I stopped to take a few pictures. For what? I don’t know. I just felt I needed to record it somehow. As I stood and clicked from different angles, a few cars stopped, as well as some walkers. Cell phones and iPods and cameras came out. Quietly, as if at a wake or funeral, they paid their respects. It was a sweet moment that probably played out many times over the day. Good folks in the center of a town without electricity, stores and governments buildings closed, the drone of saws and such cleaning debris, and children with parents, a cable company technician, a man in a suit, teenaged boys out for a ride in the car, a young couple and me, all performing last rites for the untimely death of a tree.

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