Aug 11 2008
A voice of doom bellowed from the speaker beside the old wooden door, “Who goes there?” I stood in the shadows outside the door, closed in by the over hanging branches of the trees. I babbled in French that it was Marie Antoinette and I was buzzed in, Marlene, Mary and John not far behind. We were in Bonny Doon, in the Santa Cruz Mountains to visit Boomeria, the artful creation of a dedicated physics teacher who calls himself Boom. We felt the same anticipation any kid would feel knowing that behind that door would be a magical place. Was it ever!
The week before, I had gotten up my courage to email Boom to ask for a visit. At the same time I gave him a link to my two humorous posts on physics, a subject I know very little about and understand even less. Hope springs eternal so while I waited for his reply I worked on my costume. I knew there was a castle with a dungeon and catacombs, a magnificent pipe organ, and best of all for me, a guillotine.
I decided not to dress for the blade because, by the time Marie Antoinette walked up the stairs to have her head cut off, there was no color left in her life. Her hair had turned white and she wore a simple white muslin dress and cap. I chose color to represent the naïve expectations of an upper-class completely out of touch with reality and the rage of the people.
We all introduced ourselves and then stepped into deep forest shade. I could see the castle up the hill from the chapel that housed the pipe organ, the organ that Boom’s students had built over an eight-year period, but I couldn’t yet see the guillotine. We went straight into the chapel to hear the organ and to get an education on sound waves. It was absolutely thrilling. I wish I had taken notes as Boom played pipes from different periods of history. We went up to the castle, the dungeon and catacombs all built by his students. A short walk uphill through the woods took us to Mike’s house, a geodesic dome within his secret forest garden. We were welcomed as if we were old friends. Everywhere we looked there were delightful collections of art pieces among his woodland plants.
The guillotine was magnificent. I stood on the bottom step while Boom unlocked the creature. (No one is allowed on the platform except Boom.) The sound of the blade being raised sent chills up my spine. Then the blade fell. I cringed. At the time it was being used for executions the guillotine was seen by the people as a quick and merciful death. It was certainly quick, I don’t know about the merciful part. I would have gotten my mercy by stuffing cotton wool in my ears so I wouldn’t hear the creaking chains and the whoosh of sound and air as the blade fell.
We wanted to stay longer and spend the afternoon talking the day away with Boom but we had all just met and we didn’t want to be impolite. He invited us to come back anytime. Perhaps someday he’ll adopt me and I can live in Boomeria. It means a lot to me when I meet people who have created a space of their own and filled the volume with their unique vision. It’s a gift given and in my case, gratefully received.