The fox at Philbrook

It’s cold and drizzly outside as I step into the arch of the museum lobby. I’ve already spent a leisurely morning at another museum across town, but the Philbrook is supposed to be lovely, and since outdoor activities are presently limited by climate and wardrobe deficiencies, I make it my current priority.

The greeter at the Gilcrease Museum was so incredibly helpful and friendly that the one here at the Philbrook seems cold by comparison. But she’s not unkind, and I realize this may only be stylistic, a misunderstanding of personality differences — the very sort of misread that might be attributed to me, in fact — so I don’t let it faze me.

I am only in Tulsa a few days, and I am determined to enjoy it as much as I can.

There’s a small restaurant in the museum, and by this hour I’m really very ready for lunch. They seat me, with only the slightest odd glance at me as the only solo in the venue. I’m used to this kind of reaction, so I brush it aside.

I order something simple, gazing out the glass wall to the gardens as I wait. I am content… then, for a moment, I get a strong but eerie feeling as if I am being watched, and not, apparently, by the otherwise attentive waitstaff. There is no one here who would know me,  I shake myself mentally, trying to dispel the feeling. Still, I glance the restaurant quickly; none of the other patrons — business people having lunch, a group of women having a meeting — return my look, or are even vaguely familiar. After a few moments, the feeling begins to fade.

Perhaps I’m only feeling echoes of past presence here; perhaps my imagination runs away with me.

I finish my meal, wash up, and wander the halls. The exhibits are more varied than at the Gilcrease – which I nonetheless enjoyed immensely – but still it is another art gallery. Paintings are not my passion, really. I glance out the windows as much as at the art, and when the drizzle appears to taper off a bit, I exit to explore the beautiful grounds. A young couple also steps outside, hand-in-hand, and I try to give them their space as I explore.

It’s still bitingly cold outside, but I am undetered. Against the gray backdrop of the day, the colors of the garden pop with brilliance. A water feature winding through gardens leads to a gazebo on the other side. It beckons, and I slowly walk in that direction, snapping photos along the way.

I glance around; the couple is nowhere to be seen. Maybe they’ve returned to the indoors and dry warmth; perhaps they’ve found a quiet corner of the gardens to be alone.

It must be amazing here in good weather, I think, probably this is a popular place for proposals, and for weddings… I have this thought as I am not quite to the gazebo that has been my apparent destination, but there at the water’s edge, suddenly I am awash in a sensation I can barely describe: a sharp and breathless familiarity, an ache of connection, an almost sure knowledge that this place is of significance

That significance must surely exclude me, and so when I can breathe again, can even move again, I flee from the feeling.

I turn sharply across wet lawns to the side gardens, up another path. It feels quiet and lonely here, and yet so fitting…

And so lovely.

A fox darts out ahead, then freezes when he sees me. For a moment we simply look at each other. As I raise my camera — no, not close enough to get a decent shot — I note that our coats are both shades of rust. I will not get a photo, so the sight of him, the memory will have to be enough.

I know he will run but for this still and perfect moment, I am thankful for his company, wish there were some way to make him know that I wish no harm and am no threat.

Then he, too, diverts to another direction, slinking back through the shrubs from whence he came, leaving me alone in the gardens once more.

The wind kicks up — the icy chill of rain on my face a reminder that it’s not the best day for this exploration after all.


Photo credit: aka gringita. Used with permission.


~ by lorakceel on June 9, 2014.

One Response to “The fox at Philbrook”

  1. […] The fox at Philbrook […]

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