As I pull into the parking lot of Franconia Sculpture Park, the GPS instructs me to turn left, so I do, stopping in front of a thicket of fiery red Sumac. I put the car into park and am then instructed to make a U-turn as soon as possible.
I turn 180 degrees to look at Ian and Pook in the back seat. They are also waiting for instructions.
“O.K., out of the car.” I say. I talk to them the same way I talk to myself, in commands, a chain of instructions, as if the slow turn of the world’s wheel was dependent on these small actions.
Betty, too, stands ready, her nose to my cheek, waiting for the go-ahead.
We walk and we gaze. Tentatively we climb. Ian looks over his shoulder. Pook looks at Ian. Betty pulls into the tall, autumn weeds to sniff out moles.
“Go”, I say, because I know I’ve been holding too tightly to them, to Betty, while I waste time trying to figure out what happens next, what decisions to make to give our lives texture and angles, color and slope.
Ian dances his way through a field of pointed plexiglass. Pook finds his way across a pit of lava, his feet nimble and light on the wooden plank. They climb the watch tower. Fear, like mud, pools in their feet, but they carry on and sling arrows at me from up above.
I spot a sculpture a short distance away. It seems like the house of a fishing boat.
“I’m going over there, guys.” They follow.
I imagine inside are coiled ropes, guts, scales, and fish slime, a place where cleaning is futile.
When we step inside, Ian and Pook both say, “Boring.” There are no guts or wet ropes, no torn and tangled nets, no fish slime. On the porthole windows, no water splashes. But there are lady bugs, hundred of them, in a confused, swirling frenzy, circling, flying, their small beetle bodies colliding against me, against the walls.
Ian and Pook have already found something else to climb, a slanted outhouse, a metal-mirrored path. And Betty wants to resume her search for moles.
“Get out of here,” I command myself, because sometimes a person needs a little prodding, a reminder that they don’t always have to stay, that they aren’t meant to bring order to all the chaos they encounter. Sometimes, they just need to walk away.