March 03, 2007

Here comes the sun

Botanical garden

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.

nap

11 comments:

Songbird said...

Thanks for a peek into the warmth.

BeachMama said...

Sounds like a wonderful day!

jar said...

I have not been into the city in about 17 years. Then husband had dollar bills in his pocket to give to people who approached us because being pregnant I was in no condition to walk fast to get out of harms way. And there were many interesting characters. Now if I get down there it's to visit my parents who live in a northern suburb and I never see the city which is a shame as the skyline is beautiful. Glad that you are having a good time and thanks for the photos.

Kyla said...

Sounds like you finally found your place there today. I love the photo on the bench!!

BerryBird said...

Those orchids are gorgeous! I love botanical gardens, they are such wonderful places to explore.

KLee said...

I'm curious: who took the park bench photo? The reason I ask is that you're usually tempting fate if you hand your camera over to a random stranger in that particular metropolis. :)

If you get a chance, walk by the reflecting pool in the Park Where The Olympics Were Held. Very nice and serene. A welcome green spot in the middle of all that urban sprawl.

Glad you're liking the South. We spiffed it up, 'specially for you!

Lilian said...

Lovely photos, particularly the napping one. I love your hair...

jo(e) said...

Klee: Oh, I've got an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera that is kind of beat-up. No one would steal it.

I put the camera on the edge of a fountain to take this photo. The gardens were pretty deserted that afternoon. No one bothered me at all while I took my nap.

LMC said...

Sounds beautiful. I long for botanical gardens in bloom... the gardens and wildlife preserves here are all snow and ice and naked branches, which certainly has it's own beauty for a bit, but wears off quickly, at least for me.

ccw said...

That looks wonderful!

I cannot wait for a sunny day that is not filled with whipping wind.

Marie said...

Oh, you are beautiful and so is that magnolia tree!