For years, I’ve gardened under the shade of a neighbor’s soaring pine trees, it’s branches extending far over my patio, the grill, and my orange tree. Their dark, dense canopy obstructing the light from the flower beds below. Now, the shade, the pollen, the pine cones, the needles, and the acidic air, are all gone. The change is extraordinary. The view eastward is wide open; the early morning sky, and moonrise, are visible.
Kiftsgate Courts Garden, Chipping Campden, England
Sometimes the most striking gardens are not those perfectly plotted on flat ground. Hills, valleys, and rocks may seem like less than favorable conditions, but gardeners are not easily deterred and will find a way.
Gardens are, as they always were, a retreat. Centuries ago, humans retreated from the wildness of nature, seeking protection from “lions, tigers and bears.” Today the garden is a retreat from the wildness of 21st-century life. Encouraged to shelter inside because of the pandemic it seems the world is looking out a window wondering what the way forward will be.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain
Lankester Botanic Garden,
Cartago, Costa Rica
I always photograph orchids, not the ones in grocery stores but in botanic gardens or any orchid exhibitions I visit. I can’t seem to get enough of their vibrant colors and varied shapes. I look at them through the viewfinder to examine the details of their ruffles and wings, to look closely at the tiny faces and figures hidden among the blooms.
Eat, shop, parasail? The travel guides encourage you to do all three in Geneva, Switzerland. Along the city streets in this international hub of agencies, embassies, and banks, the mail carriers navigate their scooters, overloaded with enormous yellow bundles of mail past the World Health Organization headquarters, the International Red Cross, United Nations, and many more.
One of my earliest memories is standing on a stool alongside my Mother, shaping bits of pie crust into little cinnamon swirls. I made noodles for Sunday dinner when I was ten years old, and my Mother was in the hospital, recovering after the birth of my baby sister. I was a flighty 15 years old when I substituted cornmeal for corn starch in a strawberry pie.
“As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.”
Versailles: Most recognized for the grand palace, the grounds play more than a supporting role; with 2100 acres of gardens, sculptures, and fountains.
Visiting Versailles is overwhelming; many people focus on exploring the palace and briefly visit the gardens. I did just the opposite, beginning my 15-hour day in the gardens. Even then, I walked only 12 miles of the garden’s 30 miles of pathways. I know I missed seeing so much of it.
I begin my day with a cup of coffee. I’ve been doing so for decades. Over the years, I’ve had it boiled, dripped, pressed, and expressed. I’ve had Cafe au Lait, New Orleans Chicory Coffee, Swedish Egg style, Turkish with cardamom, Cowboy style in an enamel pot, Italian in a tiny cup, and most recently Costa Rican brewed with a Chorreador.