“I lift my lamp
Beside the Golden Door.”
The Thai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens isn’t subtle. In the Grey of Spring Delayed, its roofline swoops towards the uncooperative sky in golden flashes between skeletal trees, as if the sun has descended into the clearing just beyond the Wetland Garden. Despite its whimsy (how incongruous are gold leafed shingles alongside the unassuming, stoic ranch homes of the Upper Midwest?), the unwalled pavilion invites ponderous, attentive steps. Even toddlers sense you are supposed to BEHAVE around this gem.
To get to the Thai Pavillion, you will cross the muddy wreck of Starkweather Creek. You will quickly discover that the planks of the bridge reverberate with every step. Stomp, stomp, stomp is the best way across, sending out reassuring echos of your presence into the world, and incidentally through any traveller who shares the bridge with you.
Here is the view of Starkweather Creek’s outlet to Lake Monona, from the bridge to the Thai Pavillion. Sometimes the gateway is the mirror.