Lichgate: Beneath the Spreading Oak

A short winding path opens onto this unexpected glade of whimsy on the outer rim of Tallahassee’s student ghetto and it takes my breath away. A towering oak twists above the glade, its gnarled fingers pointing toward gardens, a quaint cottage. Delicate paths weave beneath the swooping limbs of the ancient oak at the darkened margins of the clearing, leading visitors past a fairy circle and over a tiny stone bridge to a verdant garden on one side of the cottage, and a wooded chautauqua nestled past the titular lichgate on the other side. On a humid Monday morning in August, I can only imagine the vernal lectures given here.

More after the jump.

My sweat pours and the grass wets my ankles and there is a suggestion of tension in the interplay between shafted sunlight and dense shade here; between blooms and insects and the corpse gate in the side yard of the empty cottage. Spiders weave little webs in the unwashed corners of the windows and transact their sullen intercourse in the shade beneath the eaves. The professor who built this place spent her life studying heroism and tragic ethics, but this place, her place, sings a quiet melody of enchantment. This is more glade than stoa.

I knock away the morning spiders and sit a moment on the wooden bench in the darkened lichgate. Tragedy and heroism, Tudor fantasy and merrie olde whimsy are a sort of tradition, but perhaps it is best to think of this place in light of another tradition: the resurrection gate. Look for the little signpost in an unexpected place on your weary journey. Pass along the winding path and let the oak-scented glade take your breath, too. Walk the maze and watch the insects pass from bloom to bloom.. Let the sweat pour and cling in the thick summer morning air. Then emerge from the glade with new energy.


Lichgate on High Road
1401 High Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32304

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