For No Apparent Reason

FEbruary 15, 2021

The other day my son and I were riding our bikes along Lake Crabtree when we came across a sculpture of a goat looking down from the exquisite arc of a metal mountain. The name of the sculpture: “For No Apparent Reason.”

I did some research (which sounds so much more refined than admitting I “googled”) and learned that the piece is by a Wilmington, NC, sculptor named Paul Hill. Hill’s website states that “Paul’s current work is involved with the use of representational animal imagery which depicts the unpredictable human emotions and frustrations, that are daily being thrust into the lives of every person.” According to the biography on his site, for a long time Hill mainly painted, but he decided about 20 years ago that he wanted to begin working in three dimensions. I learned this particular piece was inspired by a type of tree-climbing Moroccan goat (hear Hill talk about it here) but my first thought was of Three Billy Goats Gruff, the Scandinavian tale of a family of three goats who get the best of a nasty bridge troll.

Animals have always been inspiring to my son, and he and I both were quite taken by the sculpture. Because there are private lanes all along the public greenway, it wasn’t clear whether this piece was owned by the town or by an individual. In any case, the goat seems to guard all the little bridges along the path, keeping away greedy trolls who would claim the right of egress. People come and go quite comfortably. On any given bike ride I overhear a half-dozen or more foreign languages being spoken.

Cary, NC, often gets joked about for being, well, bland. Indeed, sometimes it feels more like a garden-variety bedroom community than a town with its own history and culture. But I think that there is a lot going on there just below the surface. I just can’t imagine that such a melting pot of cultures wouldn’t manifest itself over time into quite an interesting place to live.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Riding my bike with my boy and looking at the art.

Writing, said Eudora Welty, is about writing about what you know that you’d like to know more about. It’s a journey in which you have a general idea about where you’re going, but which you expect will surprise you. On that little bike ride we also saw a giant egret, seagulls dive-bombing for fish, and—with their owners—a dozen dogs of different stripes. “Did you see that dog that looked like a miniature Husky?” my son asked after our ride. “I think so,” I said, but I’m not sure I did. I wasn’t always in an observant mode. There were moments during the ride I was lost in my own thoughts. A bike ride — or a round at the keyboard — doesn’t have to be productive, per se. That is, it doesn’t have to go anywhere. Sometimes the exercise — and the peace we create for ourselves — is quite enough. That said, more often than not we discover something we couldn’t have predicted.