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Seventy winters

Published December 05. 2009 09:00AM

During the month of September, I fell in love with a beautiful and touching sculpture on display in Brookgreen Gardens. For those of you who don't know Brookgreen, it is an outdoor sculpture garden, a zoo, and an arboretum - a fantastic place that amazes all those who find it nestled here in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

I am lucky enough to work as a volunteer at Brookgreen. I am a gallery guide. My 'job' entails being present in the gallery to help visitors and to describe the various pieces of art on display to them. It's a wonderful job and I get to interact with some pleasant people in an artistic setting.

That's where I fell in love with the sculpture. It was in my gallery and I got to see it every working day. Being close to something so awe-inspiring is a rare treat. When they removed the sculpture to make way for a new display, I was sad. Purchasing it was out of the question, since our budget wouldn't support taking it home.

The bronze sculpture was "Seventy Winters" by artist Herb Mignery of Colorado. This gorgeous piece depicts an American Indian astride his horse. He (the Indian, not the horse) is all decked out in feathers and spear - looking very much like a fearsome warrior. He slumps a little on his horse, as if the weight of the world is on his shoulders.

One can tell that the "Seventy Winters" title was well chosen. The creases and lines in the warrior's face say it all. He has seen much during his lifetime. All of his life experiences are etched there. The world-weary countenance speaks mutely of a past that has much to tell.

Perhaps my love affair with this sculpture comes from a simple fact - I, too, am celebrating my seventieth winter. Watching that many winters go by puts the old Indian and me in the same category. The years show in our faces.

I'd like to imagine that the Indian has a family that loves him, a secure and warm home, and a group of supportive friends. I'd like to believe that he has no major illnesses, that he can provide enough food for his dependents, and that he has a loving spouse. I'd like to feel confident that he has a hobby he enjoys, that he can rest easily at night, and that he knows who he is in the scheme of life.

Most important, I would like to think that this elder is revered by the younger members of his family and tribe. After all, with age come certain privileges, including a good dosage of healthy respect.

If all those imaginations, beliefs, and confidences could be true, then the Indian and I have much in common. Our lives have parallels that supersede the differences.


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