Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Of Fellows' Gardens.

May I offer you a bit of advice about this strange and lovely place that I've called home this year? If you ever find yourself in Cambridge and are wandering about through colleges and happen upon an open Fellows' Garden, do not pass it up. Their delights are many. I almost called them "boundless," but their boundedness is precisely the point: each one is a circumscribed plot of land--not a small plot, to be sure, but often one separated from a busy street or public thoroughfare by nothing more than a high wall--designed to afford enough twists and turns, enough varied sights, to beguile a rambler into believing that she's walked far away from the outside world, even if that world is still audible or even intermittently visible.

Having buckled up my red shoes to walking to a different garden today, I discovered unexpectedly that Clare's was open, and so I changed direction immediately and sprang down its little flight of stone steps and found myself face to face with a Barbara Hepworth, a sculpture whose provenance I'd not have recognized a month ago. Having finished rereading Woolf's A Room of One's Own (1929) just this morning, I spent no small time mulling over Hepworth's inclusion in the garden of a college at which she, in so many ways, simply by virtue of her sex, would not have been welcome.

This is one of two Hepworths I've seen in the past week; the other, at Churchill College, is apparently much used in students' various ballgames.

In a Fellows' Garden, everything seems just a bit more interesting--even brick walls.


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