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Posts Tagged ‘George Washington’

St. Francis, patron saint of animals, was being honored by sparrows until I frightened them away. -- Photo by Pat Bean

All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.” — Samuel Butler

Travels With Maggie

Boston has a lot of statues, the most notable probably being the one of George Washington in Boston Commons. My favorite is much less majestic. It’s the weather-worn statue of St. Francis tucked away in a small downtown walkway between streets.

St. Francis, a 12th century Catholic friar, is best known as the patron saint of animals. It was this knowledge that drew my attention during a walking tour of Boston (yesterday’s blog). In fact, I might not even have seen the statue if it hadn’t been for the house sparrows perched on the unobtrusive sculpture with its back up against a brick building.

Being an avid birder, I never miss seeing birds.

I grabbed for by camera, not wanting to miss such an appropriate photo of birds paying homage to the patron saint of animals. Big mistake. My movement scared all the birds away. The sole one remaining was the one the sculpture had created to sit on St. Francis’ shoulder.

The George Washington statue in Boston Commons. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I snapped the picture anyway. Later, where comparing St. Francis to the photo I had taken of George Washington sitting proudly astride his horse in the city’s public gardens, I saw the extreme disparity between the two.

Now while I respect our country’s first president and approve of his prominent position on a pedestal in Boston’s most popular park, the modest image of St. Francis, who loved animals, touched my heart. And that’s why it’s my favorite Boston statue.

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 “In old age one should do something mounmental.” — Xiao Qiam

Mount Rushmore -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

 I finally made it to Mount Rushmore. So much of my sight-seeing before I began doing it full time had to be squeezed in during trips from Utah, where I lived and worked,” and places where my kids lived, mostly Texas and Southern California. There was never time to detour through South Dakota.

Although I’m one who doesn’t believe Mother Nature can be improved upon, I still found this mountainous granite sculpture of four U.S. Presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt – impressive. To understand the size of these heads, with their 20-foot noses, one has to visualize them atop men 465-feet tall.

The retooling of the mountain, originally undertaken to attract tourists to South Dakota, took 14 years, and included the removal of 800 million pounds of stone in the process.

The man behind the sculpture was Gutzon Borglum, a student of renown French artist sculptor Auguste Rodin. Borglum was 60 years old when he began the monumental task, and sadly died just months before it was completed in 1941. His son, Lincoln Borglum, finished the politically controversial task his father had begun in 1927.

Some historians allege the monument’s underlying theme is one of racial superiority, a suggestion encouraged because of Borglum’s membership in the Ku Klun Klan. I admit that learning this bit of information dimmed my admiration for Borglum. But South Dakota thrives on the tourist attention it gets from the presidential memorial. And it’s certainly not an American wonder I would have wanted to miss.

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