Monday, April 30, 2007

Where faux and real history collide

The other day, a man stood on the bike path gape-mouthed. He was looking at the ruins of Loring Cascade, a small collection of fake boulders that once formed a man-made waterfall, just off Theo Wirth Parkway at Wirth Lake. The cascade has now been overtaken by weeds, its bronze plaque long since pried off and carried away. (Photo: That's the way the Cascade looked in 1920, as snapped by Charles Hibbard. Courtesy of the MHS.)

Some of the boulders have been broken, revealing them to be huge hollow artifacts. A person in a certain frame of mind walking along the parkway for refreshment and edification might suddenly be thrown into a tailspin of existential angst, questioning whether anything is real. Perhaps it's all just one huge stage set, and everyone else is an actor with scripted lines.

This ruin--like many American ruins--was intended to ground us in a history that did not yet exist. But it exists now: Yesterday, on our stroll through Wirth, we were happy to stumble upon the 100th birthday party of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden--just a fake stone's throw from Wirth parkway, where our friend stood catching flies.

Theodore Wirth Park,