I’ve driven past this sculpture countless times in the past few years since it went up, baffled and only slightly curious. I’ve even walked under or around it in the past few weeks, but that doesn’t mean I really saw it.
It’s about twenty feet off a main road and fronts a canal with its two paved walking/biking trails. A cop parks there some mornings, either for a donut break or to catch speeders. It’s not really a spot that encourages visitors to sit or slow down long enough to pay attention to it.
That’s what I’d think to myself. Until yesterday.
Yesterday I slowed down, wandered around it and took a few photos. I also read the inscriptions.
Turns out it’s a representation of an invention drawn up by Leonardo da Vinci called an Airscrew, kind of an early concept of the helicopter. You can read more about it here and here if you want more details.
Several quotes encircle the base of the sculpture. A fun spiral word mirror for the “wings” above the inscriptions. To read each quote I had to walk all around the base. An interesting interactive twist, wouldn’t you say? Here are the three masterfully chosen quotes.
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered. The point is to discover them.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.” -Isaac Newton
“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” – Leonard da Vinci
Did I fail to mention the sculpture also sits at the northeast corner of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch? That’s an important detail, I suppose, in coming to an understanding. You see, The Rip, as I affectionately call it, is a renowned birding location. Several rare birds hang out there. I suspect Leonardo’s curiously odd drawing (and now work of art) of a way to achieve flight serves as an homage to the bird refuge that the riparian preserve has become.
Not only that, but I think it serves as an invitation to discovery and wonder. I’ve logged a bunch of miles over the 110 acre plot of land and have never become bored. I’m always seeing something new or in a different light, always surprised, delighted or refreshed as I round each curve in the trail.
On researching a bit more, I found out that this sculpture is considered “the crown jewel” in the city’s evolving trail system. Meant to provide shade, a place to rest, and a chance to refill a water bottle at the fountain there, it also invites curiosity and contemplation for those willing to take the time to wonder and pay attention.
Draw your own conclusions and metaphors.
I regret that it took me so long to look closer at this work of art. Driving or walking past, this spiral can now remind me of the possibilities waiting for me along my path, wherever that might lead.