My daughter and I looked at this photograph, posted on Facebook, as we thought about going to Lakefest on Saturday.
"Look! The Fountain's on!"
We talked a litle bit about whether people ever play in the fountain. This led to a discussion of liability and how people are more prone to sue than they used to be. Ah, well.
Later that day we were there. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it seemed more alive to me than in years past. The mild, slightly breezy temperatures with low humidity probably helped. The addition of the Petit Louis restaurants added to the liveliness of the scene. It almost looked like a place you would come to when it wasn't Lakefest.
We started at the end closer to the Sheraton, and worked our way towards the concert stage. When we got to Clyde's I looked at all the paddle boats in the lake and got a lump in my throat. Seeing the Lakefront so alive made me think of someone who loved Columbia. I felt his spirit as we moved through the festival, enjoyed waffles from the waffle truck, listened to live music, watched children dancing in a cloud of bubbles.
And then there was the fountain. All the steps were filled with people sitting and chatting. Children were running and dancing in the central space while their parents snapped pictures. Other children were cooling their toes in the water.
Now you may have seen this plenty of times, but I had not. The pure joy of people of all ages enjoying that fountain filled me with hope. Columbia is for all of us, whether we are resting, or chatting, or dancing, or playing, or even getting a bit messy.
How I relished that moment--with no one saying, "It's my fountain!" No one trying to control the fountain, or proscribe its use or enjoyment. All were happy. All were welcome.
I know that people here have great reverence for the symbolism of the People Tree, but it truly means nothing if our behaviors don't reflect its promise. Look for the moments where you can make it happen. Seek out opportunities to make those connections. Be The Tree.
My friend was pretty much a walking, talking People Tree. Wherever he was, connections happened. He would have been really happy this weekend to see Columbia at its best.