I’m starting to emerge out of the fog of illness, but I’m not firing on all cylinders quite yet. I always check to see that the memory card is in my camera, but I forgot to yesterday morning, so when we arrived at the garden on one of the most gorgeous mornings of the season, my camera was a no-show.
Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I kept seeing interesting things that I wanted to photograph. I took a few shots with my phone, but it’s not the same. I appreciate the convenience of having a camera on me all the time in the form of my phone, but it’s never really felt like a camera to me. There’s something different in carrying around my “real” camera when I’m in the garden. My phone is tucked away – I only check it occasionally for the time.
It’s pretty dark now at seven when we leave the house. We drive east to the stop sign just a few feet away, before turning north. The sky is so gorgeous every morning, streaked with watercolors. We cross a diagonal thoroughfare, and catch a brief glimpse of downtown silhouetted against the sunrise. M used to work in a corner office on the nineteenth floor of the tallest building downtown. He was always there before the sun went up, and had the best photographs of it.
We’ve gotten into the habit of stopping for breakfast on the way to the garden instead of making something quickly at home. I tell myself each week that I need to be better at making a portable breakfast ahead of time that we can grab and go, but I never seem to get around to it. Sleeping as late as possible always seems to win out, even if “late” really means that the alarm sounds before the six o’clock hour. But I’ve let her add steamed apple juice to the breakfast tab, and she adds a little whipped cream. She never finishes it completely, and she doesn’t need it. It pushes our modest breakfast tab beyond the threshold of modest for a weekly occurrence, and each Wednesday I consider whether it is worth it.
But now they recognize her, and they steam it just right – not too hot – and make the whipped cream into a funny little tower before squishing it down with the lid in front of her. She drinks it in slow sips on the way down the street to the garden, and then bigger drinks as we head off to school an hour later. When I finally pull into the parking lot at work, I pick up the cup, now cold, and feel its weight. I take a drink and it tastes like fall, but sweeter. Too sweet to drink any more, but just a taste to carry our morning with me for a few more minutes.
Yesterday brought cooler temperatures, and another stunning sunrise. It’s dark when we drop off E at school these days. Her classes start so early. But the sky is waking up on our right, and we catch glimpses of the pink hued sky between the houses on each block as we drive her to school. F put up no arguments about the garden this week, a pleasant change from her typical resistance.
We picked up coffee and steamed apple cider and a couple of breakfast sandwiches to eat, and parked at the garden while we finished them up. It was light once we arrived, but still chilly. Delightful, really.
We weren’t as rushed on this morning. We were able to visit the maze and the secret paths without any nagging. She was in a collecting mood, so her hands and arms were soon full. She stopped every thirty feet or so to re-adjust everything. This worked well for my photo taking too – we’re an odd couple as we walk, rarely side-by-side, usually one in front and one lagging behind, distracted by something.
The holiday lights are being installed throughout the garden. It seems early, but I know that November is just around the corner. I’m not ready for fall to be over. It feels like it’s just starting to settle in. As she walks, F wishes for mittens. It’s not that cold, but we can sense it coming. She decides she’ll put a pair in her backpack, just in case. She shoves her hands in her pockets for a moment, but she can’t resist picking up sticks along the way. The sticks are resting in my trunk for a few days, until I’m certain she’s forgotten about them. Until next Wednesday, when she discovers something new along our walk.
Our visit was a quick one this morning, but once again we dodged the rain that came a little later. The garden was busy – beds are being cleared and the holiday lights are being installed throughout. I had promised F that we would go back to visit the “secret paths” in the woodland garden, but they are located near the rear of the place so we had to hurry.
Still, it was a little rushed. We had a number of detours on our way to the garden – lots of construction, a delay at the coffee shop, general morning busyness. I prefer the quiet and the stillness, and the garden generally offers that. I let her roam, and she’s happy to do it. When we have to keep a close eye on the time, I feel like I’m always urging her along. I prefer to wander at will.
But we allowed ourselves enough time to get back to the entrance without rushing. We took a different route, and found some stunning chrysanthemums and dahlias on the way. When we got back into the car she expressed her disappointment that we didn’t have enough time in the woods. So we made a deal to return soon, without the press of a school bell in the back of our minds.
It was still a good start to the day, much quieter than the noise and bluster of the debate later that evening. I love an overcast garden, the cool air a relief after the heat and humidity and noise of the week.
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