Gina and I began our visit by walking through an exhibit that detailed the timeline of Carver’s life. As a young boy, he spent a lot of time exploring the surrounding woods and prairie and familiarized himself with native plants and their properties. The scientist inside of him yearned to find practical uses for those plants; the artist inside of him longed to capture their untouched beauty on paper.
As we finished the exhibit, Gina said, “What couldn’t this guy do?”
“Let’s go see where he got his inspiration,” I said, leading us out of the visitor center and onto the paved trail that wound through the land that had served as Carver’s real-life classroom over a century earlier.
The tranquility of the landscape was palpable. We paused next to a bubbling spring, watching newly fallen leaves dance in the moving water, then continued on until we came to a bench that faced a statue of young Carver and sat down.
“I’m so glad you came for a visit, Gina,” I said. “I hope you had fun.”
“I did!” she said. “I got to hang out with my best friend, eat great food, and see incredible art."
“I hope you’re inspired now to go back to Chicago and crank out some of your own work.”
We sat in comfortable silence for a moment, then watched as a late-season butterfly flitted in front of us, finally alighting on the statue of Carver.