Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…
Last time we showed you three Garfields in the city of Marion. But Marion has four Garfields. Between the hospital and the golf course, we found another Garfield in an unexpected wonderland of public art.
Matter Park is Marion’s largest city park, an institution ever since the land was donated by a farmer named Philip Matter at the turn of the 20th century. It’s had good times and bad over the decades as fortunes and funds and attention spans have waxed and waned. It once housed a zoo, which was one of many shut down in the 1970s when animal care trended toward the larger, more spacious zoos we know and enjoy today. It also had a public pool, which was dismantled in 1990 after much lamentable neglect. Poor reviews on their Facebook page insist recent times haven’t always been kind to the environs, either.
We didn’t feel any of that negativity on our visit. Not many people were around, but that’s because it had just rained. A few kids and parents began to filter in as we walked the grounds.
We had no idea which end was which, and of course parked at the wrong end. Once we figured out where the entrance gate was, we found ourselves surrounded by sculpture, gardens, and some nice facilities fit for celebrations — reunions, weddings, or just getting away from your desk for a while.
Their Garfield is in a far corner, but we had to walk past so many intricate works of art to reach him that he seemed more like an opening act than the feature presentation.
And now back to way-cool public art, already in progress.
The count stands: six Garfields down, five to go. To be continued!
Other chapters in this special MCC miniseries: