The rains moved out just before we arrived at the garden this morning. It’s becoming a theme, although now we come prepared. I am still not back in sync after our travels this past weekend, and after April, really, if we’re being honest here. I am so behind on everything, everything – to the point of wondering if I can realistically get caught up on some of it. F is protesting the garden visit this morning as I’m rushing her through breakfast. I almost cave.
I can do another load of laundry if we stay, and fold the two loads on the bed right now. I can send out a half dozen overdue emails. I can write a blog post. I can start packing for our camping trip. I can finish unpacking from the last trip.
There are dozens of things I could do in the hour stretching before us, not the least of those things is the promise of the end of the protest and the subsequent whining. I do not give in.
She transforms on cue, as do I. I can only do so much, but I can do this. I can walk with my camera and my umbrella and her umbrella until we reach the irises because they are only here for a short time and the lilies are coming. Everything is purple and blue and tumbling over itself. There is a purple pinwheel flower that is emerging from tiny yellow buds that look like pale raspberries, feathery. The alliums are exploding around us, and those early roses.
Somewhere there are rows and rows of peonies, but we don’t have time to visit them. There are a million other things calling my name, and we’ve seen what we’ve come to see, and it’s perfect.
I love the garden after it storms. We had some really strong afternoon storms roll through on Tuesday, and when we woke up on Wednesday, the morning was still heavy and damp. We were better prepared for the weather this week, after getting caught in the surprise shower last time.
We didn’t need the umbrellas after all. With the rains came slightly cooler temperatures – a bit of a relief after the unseasonable heat we’ve been having. I found a bag of fish food when I was cleaning out a drawer over the weekend, and she tucked it into the pocket of her raincoat before we left. A trip to the far corner of the garden where the fish live is a rare treat on a Wednesday – we don’t often have that kind of time, but we were focused and determined on this day.
We only saw one fish – bright orange and slow moving below the surface. It didn’t even try to eat the food. The ducks were happy though. They followed us from the head of the pond, near the waterfall, and tracked us as we made our way around the perimeter – the bow bridge, the zig-zag bridge, the fish food bridge, at least that’s how we name them.
She decided to save half of the food for another trip. Her legs were suddenly tired as we headed back to the entrance. They have a knack for doing that when a schedule is once again imposed. Maybe the sudden rainstorms work in my favor? I take her hand to hurry her along. Sometimes she resists, but this day she did not.
Her hand is warm in mine, and little still.
The hills are alive with the… flaming azaleas. Color everywhere. I love when this explosion happens – it adds a new dimension to the garden that wasn’t there before. We start noticing spots of color way in the distance. When we are wandering around, each area feels distinct, but when the banks of color emerge, you really start to understand the relationship between each part of the garden.
We weren’t so smart this morning. We’re generally pretty good at remembering to carry an umbrella or two, but in the rush of the morning we somehow forgot. It had rained overnight, and the morning was the absolute perfect temperature for April. Everything was dewey and glossy and still. F protested the morning plans, but I ignored her complaints. We dropped her sister off at school and pulled into the garden lot. She hopped out and all was well again. It might have been one of my favorite visits yet.
We wandered pretty far into the place before we felt a few quick drops. We were still oblivious, despite having no umbrellas, no rain gear – I didn’t even have a camera case! We kept walking, away from the entrance, ignoring the signs in the sky. Then the rain started coming down in earnest, and I had a brief moment of panic. (For the camera, not for us.) Frances stopped for a second, peeled off her jacket, hesitated for a moment, shivering in the rain, and then handed it to me to wrap around the camera. We picked up the pace quite a bit, jogging all the way back to the front of the garden.
The camera stayed dry, we did not. By the time we rounded the last corner, the drops let up a bit. I unwrapped the camera and took a quick shot of the dripping rhododendrons near the entrance. She put her jacket back on, proud that she had saved the day. She called her dad to tell him about our adventures, and hopped out of the car in the driveway of her school in a much finer mood than she had entered it 75 minutes earlier. As did I.