They say you can’t go home again. So I believed for a long time; I was careful not to recognize opportunities to return to Bloomington, because I knew it was no longer the place I remembered. It was only recently that I woke up to the fact that I could, after all, go home whenever I wanted, or rather that I needn’t go anywhere. I had brought it all with me.
At the blink of an eye I can see Maxwell fields, covered not with a housing development but with high grass, chicory and Queen Anne’s lace; nearby are the four corners where Woodlawn and Wylie intersect, and where the only traffic on a warm summer’s night is the neighborhood gang as we play Kick the Stick. A few blocks away is the University campus, which revisited spreads only from Third to Tenth streets, and offers the adventuresome child green lawns, the Jordan River, and imposing limestone buildings with echoing halls and mysterious offices. One of the buildings often draws the child that I was, to its dusty glass cases displaying a series of human embryos.
Best of all, the Sunken Gardens, in this return to the past, has not been filled in and built over with student dormitories. It is still a refuge, a playground, a Paradise. Two arches in a low stone wall invite entry to descending flights of rough, shallow steps. These are bordered by trees, ferns and ground cover plants which hold the cool, dark, damp atmosphere born of the wide pond at the foot of the steps. Circling the pond, the questing child arrives at her goal–the huge, sloping limestone rock which juts into the water. The rock’s surface, about two feet above the water, is superbly placed for watching crawdads and water striders, and is itself studded with fossils. The cool quiet of the Sunken Gardens was then, and is now, that child’s safe haven.