I am walking along the shoreline of San Damiano, Lake Monona to my left, a small woods to my right. As I begin stepping over the fallen trunk of a large ash tree, a sudden explosion of more than a dozen mourning doves rises in front of me taking refuge in the branches just above my head; their mournful cries briefly piercing the morning quiet.
As I stand silently taking in the beauty of this simple moment, I am reminded of similar experiences from my childhood when I would ride my bicycle to this very place, hiding it in the bushes, far from the mysterious house that dominated the property. I would wade in the shallow waters finding shells, seine for minnows with a small net, or explore the woods, just to see what I could find.
What delighted me then, as a precocious 9 year old, continues to affect my spirit today at 67. San Damiano can have a healing effect on people of all ages. I have witnessed it first hand having spent many enjoyable hours photographing its serene beauty. I have observed and interacted with the many visitors who have transformed this place into an “island” sanctuary surrounded by the noise and bustle of the city. Many visitors have confided in me that coming here helps them escape, for a time, the worries and anxieties of their day.
Fortunately, today there is no need to sneak onto the property anymore. It belongs to all of us, thanks to the hard work of so many in our community who helped make it a reality...enjoy!