Magic Tree [Pepe's Garden, Capitol Hill, Seattle] Polaroid SX-70 on Polaroid 600 film
***My personal favorite photo in a while***
Pepe's Garden is one of my favorite things about living on Capitol Hill. It's a little gem of a privately-maintained but open to the public garden a few blocks from my house. I walk through it on many days and have photographed it in every season of every year that I've lived here, and in all kinds of weather. It's a little oasis of calm and beauty in the midst of urban chaos, and I've taken refuge here so many times that I feel like it's almost my own little secret garden.
When I first walked into the garden today, I didn't notice right away what was different. It's always kind of barren in the winter, when the plants have died back, and everything is damp and musty, the colors muted by the winter gray light. But a few minutes into my explorations this afternoon, I had the sudden realization that this time, it was different, the heart and soul of the garden really was missing.
Pepe's little private shack was gone, a big swatch of empty hard dirt left where it had been, no trace of the place where the garden's mysterious and aloof caretaker did his work remained. Looking more closely, I noticed that many of the little features that made the garden so magical were gone, like most of the bowling balls that once edged one of the flower beds, and many of fountains and other unique features. All of the signs that identify the garden, tell its history, and share how to support the garden are gone. There are a few remaining nicknacks, garden gnomes, and other odds and ends, but so many of the enchanting little creatures and frivolties have left, or been taken.
Still, there are a few remaining charms, and nothing can stop the flowers and plants from growing, and there are traces of spring preparing to burst into the garden. So when I realized what was happening, I had the sudden sense that this might be one of my last chances to photograph Pepe's Garden, and I spent the latest afternoon hour shooting all of the film I had on me: half a roll in my Lomo, and nine exposures in my Polaroid SX-70. I wandered slowly through the garden, tucking polaroids under my sweater next to my belly where it was warm enough to develop them. I probably looked like an expectant mom, fingers spread wide on both sides of my belly, gently holding my polaroids there until they were ready to be born.
When the last of the sunlight left the garden, so did I, sadly. I wonder what has happened to Pepe. I wonder what has happened to the woman that owned the property. I worry about them. I wonder what will become of the garden now.
I know that as long as the garden isn't built over, the flowers and plants are going to keep growing up there, wilder, and I'm definitely going to keep visiting Pepe's Garden as long as there is any garden there to visit. I'm curious to see what nature will do with it while she still has time, and I'm rooting for her to get in her last hurrah as spring slowly warms up Seattle. I wonder how much time she has.
Posted by Dawn at February 11, 2009 10:43 PM
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