Friday, November 6, 2015
I make my way up from the river into the University along various routes. But that variety of routes is limited. So I regularly see the turkeys, the duck, and the geese out on the great hill of stairs. I see certain trees bud, and then bear fruit, and then wither. I watch the subtle effects of seasonal light and weather on our glorious Italian Mannerist statue on the deck of the student center until it is covered over for our unflorentine winter. And I chart the progress of various long term construction projects along my paths. There are always a lot of these at the University. Along one street the University built a giant Health building over the past couple years. I have nothing particularly good or bad to say about it, maybe a little bad, now that I think of it: a generic, boring giant thing of a building, but I hope it's useful to the people who use it. And there was some pleasure in monitoring the massive endeavor of its creation. During that long construction project, not far from where something so enormous and unmistakable was being built, another more amorphous project was taking place even closer to where I walked. I traveled along the edge of it many times during the past couple of years. I wondered at it.
This project I am speaking of was a dirt lot. I don't bemoan its past incarnation before being a dirt lot because I can't remember it being anything but a dirt lot under construction. The location has never been the least bit pretty, and though there was surely a time before construction I cannot recall it. All I can remember, or picture, is the dirt lot. A big one. Full of heavy construction equipment. Every day a varying sized team of workers would push dirt around on it. The massive earthmoving machines swept the dirt into giant hills. The powerful tractors would toot around over it, leaving a maze of deep tread marks in it. The scooper claws would load the lot's dirt into mighty trucks one day, and then mighty trucks would deliver dirt to the lot on another day. They would empty the dirt from the trucks and push it around and pile it up and flatten it out. Some machines would scrape the dirt, and some machines would plow it up.
When I was a little boy, like many little boys, I enjoyed big machines pushing dirt around. I would have loved this lot!
I cannot claim I had any idea what all these machines and construction people were up to on this city block. I did not click my tongue at it, or get emotionally invested. But I wondered a wee bit. For all that work I supposed they must be doing something pretty important. I was pretty sure it had to be complicated. I figured that after two years of very industrious pushing dirt, and ground grooming, and fastidious preparation, when it came time for them to start all the building, and constructing, and turning it into something, it would all be a pretty big deal. I figured after two years of preparing that something enormously significant and time consuming was coming.
So I was kind of surprised when, after more than a hundred weeks of preparation, I walked by and they were simply done. Years of preparation, a few days of construction. All in less than a week, the big dirt lot was now a done job. It was a parking lot. A simple, paved, flat, large, parking lot.
Yes, I was inclined to scoff. I may have scoffed a little.
But upon reflection I have decided that that is probably the single most perfect, flattest, most structurally sound parking lot that has ever been created. And I shall never forget the dazzling care that went into its preparation.