Friday, May 20, 2016

A Visit to the Huntsville Botanical Garden


It's been busy the past few weeks.  My brother's kids have been in school, I've been working on projects, studying, taking naps, etc.

Yesterday, though, just as I was about to ask to take the car to go do some sight-seeing, my sister-in-law suggested that very thing.

I was soon given the key of power and this is my excited face:

The Huntsville Botanical Gardens.

Now, I think that making multiple visits to Kew Gardens as a child may have permanently ruined me for lesser botanical gardens.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed my visit and, as you will see towards the end of my post, can appreciate nature wherever I find it.

After driving Jonathan, my red, stick-shift traveling companion, the twenty-five-minute drive to the gardens, paying my dues, and promising a couple of joking ladies at the front desk not to take any snakes home in my pocket, I was off.  The first site to greet me was this little hobbit house:

Charming, right?  This was going to be a good day.

My first move was making a beeline for the "Purdy Butterfly House" (I thought this name rather funny because at first I wasn't sure if Purdy was somebody's name, or just a southern pronunciation of "pretty").

Unfortunately I was a little underwhelmed with the number of butterflies flying about (it was an overcast day), but I was charmed with a choice monarch of which I snapped a picture.

I said a cheery "hello" to a group of school kids as I passed them on my way to the herb garden.  I was enjoying the herbs when a splash of color to my left caught my eye.  I turned my head and my breath was taken away.

It was a beautiful field of wild flowers, many of them poppies, with a little cabin in the middle of it, styled after the cabin in Little House on the Prairie.  I absolutely adore wild flowers so that was a real treat.

The picture doesn't do them justice:

And here's Yours Truly, with the background of the aquatic gardens (the problem with having a car for a travel buddy is that one simply has no other choice than to resort to selfies):

A Romanticist Moment, a More Serious Note

My visit to the Garden of Hope, a section dedicated to those who have struggled with cancer had put me in a pensive mood.  While I've only ever had one truly malignant form of growth, cancer is not foreign to me personally.  It's not productive to worry about it, of course, but cancer is there for many of us, either in our future or in the future of someone we know and love.  As we've extended our lifespans and conquered the other major killers, cancer has taken it's place as The Emperor of All Maladies.

I sat down in a grove of trees an read some lines from Wordsworth's Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.

A theme in a couple of Wordsworth's most famous works is the difference between how he viewed and interacted with nature as a child and as an adult.

I read:

To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.—And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

As I sat on my bench amid the boughs of the trees, I felt that I heard the "still sad music of humanity," and felt Wordsworth's gratitude and recognition of the moral anchor the beauty of nature truly is.  It is a gift and a joy that, in spite of maladies and wrongdoing, "disturbs [us] with the joy of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime."

And I leave you, dear reader, with that.

Yours Truly,