March 03, 2007
Here comes the sun
Today I felt the sun on my skin.
I had had a satisfying morning: chatting with colleagues, attending a panel put on by some women I admire greatly, and then eating lunch with a friend I've known for years. But by afternoon, I was exhausted from so much time spent in those big carpeted rooms with rows of chairs lined up obediently underneath glaring lights. So I sneaked away from the conference to do something I love to do: wander a strange city by myself.
For about the first mile that I walked, I was still surrounded by hotels and concrete, but the air was wonderfully warm. How good it felt to walk without hat or mittens, with no winter coat, no heavy boots. As I moved out from the shadows of the buildings, I even took my fleece off so that the sun could touch my forearms.
I saw trees finally, their branches holding up a brilliantly blue sky. I passed old houses with big porches and pillars, some with front yards full of ivy and plants and flowers. Flowers blossoming already! Some of the old houses seemed abandoned, dilapidated, but others had been restored, although mostly into offices – a doctor's office, a real estate broker, that kind of thing. One lovely house with a wide, welcoming veranda had, strangely enough, two big "No trespassing" signs tacked to two trees in the fenced-in front yard, which kind of killed the effect of gracious southern hospitality.
I passed a park where an old man sat on a bench reading a book and a mother pushed a baby in a stroller. I saw pine straw used as mulch, again and again, at the base of trees and at the edge of flower gardens. I had expected pine straw to have that kind of rich pine smell that a bed of pine needles in the woods has, but to my surprise, the pine straw seemed to have little scent. I stopped trying to smell it when I noticed that people in the park giving me strange looks.
The best part of my walk was the botanical gardens. I wandered through a big building made mostly of glass, breathing in the moist scent of all kinds of plants and incredible flowers. One building imitated a tropical rain forest, with green plants hanging down every where and a constant mist splattering down. Orchids bloomed. And little yellow birds flew about. Most of the other creatures in the building seemed made of glass: a strange mix of art and nature.
Outside, I wandered through the gardens, which were filled for some reason with garish and bright-colored sculptures made by someone who must be very into the mosaic. On one of the trees, pink flowers were beginning to unfold from buds. I breathed in air that smelled of mud and flowers, wandered about looking at plants for awhile, then found a bench near a fountain, and took a nap in the sun.
Posted by jo(e)