It's not the first thing that I loved in Austin. It's not even the first thing that I loved about Austin. But it's the thing I loved that made me look at all the things I love here, and create this blog.
It's behind the Blanton Museum, sort of on the University of Texas campus, not anywhere I would have found if a friend hadn't known it was there. But it's this amazing sculpture/installation piece/structure/playground thing, with a white steel beam frame and thousands of long yellow rubber tubes flowing like a 21st century waterfall. I'm not sure what it's called, or who it's by, or if it is even art at all (though it seems to have no practical purpose), but it's amazing fun.
It was Austin Museum Day, a holiday during which the city's museums forgo their entrance fees and let people wander in and out without charge, or restriction. Due to a late start, we had made it only to Umlauf Sculpture Garden and the Blanton, but had thorougly enjoyed both the art and the large number of people who had turned out to take advantage of the experience. We had almost gotten back to our car when my friend said, "Wait. We have to play on this thing. I want to do this every day on the way to class but I haven't because I don't want to look totally crazy. But you guys will play with me."
And we did play. The stretchy tubes lend themsleves to swinging, climbing, pulling and twirling. If I had to guess, I'd say it's a homage to childhood. We twenty and thirty somethings played alongside children, whose parents sat in the grass nearby.
This is what I love about Austin - that I can go to a museum and play, and that people show up to a museum and play, and that no one looks at you funny when you do.