Yesterday we decided to take a break and celebrate the tax return being done and so we headed off to Springfield for some R and R (and then wondered if it wasn’t something of an oxymoron to link “Springfield” with R and R in the same breath).
At any rate, our first stop was at the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden (there are lovely pictures of it here and here in the Spring).
This park is part of a huge park complex outside of Springfield. This is a lovely area, with winding paved paths through pine trees and Japanese arrangements of plants and rocks, and a huge koi pond with lots of interesting little bridges and stone pathways, and trickling waterfalls and a replica of a Japanese tea house, and one of those meditation gardens with the combed gravel. Just lovely.
We fed $1 into the machine and bought a few handfuls of food to feed the koi...
And then all of a sudden here comes a turtle – a much larger version of
the sort of turtle little kids used to be given as pets.
and I tried to give it some of the koi food, but the fish were too aggressive.
Now, to set the stage for what happened next, the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners is in Springfield, and as the name implies, it houses Federal prisoners who require medical treatment or who have mental health issues. Occasionally the prison makes the news -- John Gotti died there, the man who shot the Congresswoman in Arizona is being sent there.
The lovely Japanese stroll garden borders the back of the prison -- there is a large open area outside the main prison fence where there are various outbuildings and then a chain link fence separates this from the garden. We were enjoying our mosey on the path that meanders around this lovely pond and its artistic plant arrangements, we start hearing this funny-sounding amplified woman’s voice echoing. A tram tour of the parks is offered on certain days of the week and I thought perhaps was one of the trams with someone giving a guided tour.
Richard listened a bit longer and said, "No, that is a gun range." A gun range? Sure enough. As we continued to move forward the voice became clearer, and she was giving instructions to people who were about to shoot guns. Everything was quiet for a few seconds.
And then it sounded like we were in a war zone.
Ka-bam, blam, blooey, bang bang bang.
We could smell the gunpowder wafting in the morning breeze.
We made our way through the row of trees blocking the view of the back of the prison from the park,
and there was a line of people shooting at targets. Probably prison guards or perhaps Springfield policemen.
We had to laugh -- this is exactly the sort of thing that happens to us regularly -- nothing like a little gunfire to add to the ambience.