Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jersey and Back

Grounds for Sculpture, a sculpture garden in Hamilton NJ, must be the most playful park I've been in since I went to Disney Land as a child. Endowed by J. Seward Johnson of Johnson & Johnson, it displays his sculptures which render 19th Century paintings like Le déjeuner sur l'herbe in 3 dimensions, as well as work by those with a more basic appreciation of the poetry inherent in materials. It took me a while to get used to the crowing of the peacocks that wander the grounds and the other surprises the garden planners have baited the park with, like a copse of Dawn Redwood you suddenly find yourself among or the depth of green in the leaves of a Japanese Horse Chestnut tucked behind an artificial knoll. Maybe the best part was the steep scrubby hills behind the horrible visitor's center, a heart breakingly barren brick box, hills that hid Sweet William, Vetch and Larkspur among the thick grasses fleecing their slopes, divided by steep paths that led to work with little or no polish. For the buffed, glazed, shellaced, ground, molded, welded, torqued and deliberately corroded, one must stay near the inviting Naples yellow and verdigris old State Fair Buildings, now converted to galleries, gift shops, cafes and offices, and watch out for the peacocks.

The walk lined with tightly planted Poplars put me in a great mood, but not the kids, who were a little too worn out by the sun and all the garden's surprises. Too bad the man-made brook that ran nearby didn't burble away full of lemonade. Coming back through Staten Island, 678 was too congested so we took a little tour of Richmond County. Highlights included a bunny rabbit that seemed to have the sense to head away from Richmond Ave and into the deep phragmites that sweep across the acres in front of the Fresh Kills landfill, a really old overgrown cemetery inbetween strip malls, and a view of the open blue of the Great Kill from the corner of Tennyson and Thornycroft, a view partially obscured by an "End" sign that stated the obvious.

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