Friday, May 21, 2010

MN Landscape Arboretum

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The week I returned from 3 months of working in CO, it was rainy, cold and dreary all week. Already depressed from having to leave my team and new friends in Denver, it was a bit too much for this soul to bear. So I did what anyone with a laptop and a Mifi broadband card and a case of the blues would do – I forced myself to change out of my 5-day jammies and got out of the house on Friday, driving all the way over to the MN Landscape Arboretum to work that day. I love being able to work from anywhere there is a Verizon & AT&T signal, don’t you? Oh, you don’t get to do that? I’m sorry. But back to my sad story. I picked a table in the corner of the dining room and set up my “office”: Mobile Office See my Mifi card hanging out next to my water bottle? Yep, I admit, after years of being anti-gadget, I have to confess I have a bit of a love affair with this little piece of technology. Let me give you one example of its great powers. Recently Pappa Bear and I found ourselves on a long drive to Madison, WI in preparation for the Great Midwestern Alpaca Festival . (Yes, that was Alpaca, not Apple). If you’ve never been to an alpaca festival, you really must check one out. You may have to wait until fall though, babies are being born all over the place right now, so the shows are on a break through the summer. And if you’ve never seen an alpaca baby… well, my God, how can you still be alive? Anyway. There we were tooling down Hwy 53 in the middle of nowhere, when suddenly we remembered we had a very important task to accomplish – that very day, before business hours were over. We needed to send a signed copy of the selling contract to our realtor to list and sell our house in Duluth. How on earth would we accomplish this? We would not arrive in Madison until 5:00 or 6:00pm, past office hours. Pay attention now, this is where it gets good. We booted up a laptop and attached the Mifi, waiting for a signal. Wallah – signal found, e-mail and internet now accessible. THEN I pulled out my Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 scanner and hooked it up to the laptop and the inverter we just happen to keep under the seat of the car, for a power source. We scanned all the copies of the contract to a PDF, saved it on the laptop, and e-mailed it to my realtor. All while driving 55mph down the highway!!! I’d have snapped a picture, but it took two hands to scan, one hand to hold the laptop, and two hands to drive, and, well, we were out of hands at that point. Wait, that’s five hands. You’ll just have to trust me and picture the scene in your head. While you’re at it, please picture me in a Fiskar Sunset Hybrid Convertible. Cherry metallic red. What? We were really in a white Honda Civic Hybrid? We’re just fantasizing here, folks. Back to the Arboretum. Outside of my new “office” windows, the sun shone (Gasp! What is that thing?!) and flowers bloomed. My spirits lifted the minute I set foot on the grounds. Tulips As I sat at my table in Chaska, watching the people come and go out of the dining room, I was answering e-mails, helping folks across the country, connected to servers in Hibbing, MN; Austin, TX and Denver, CO. Could this be for real? I pinched myself just to make sure. Note to self: Next time don’t pinch so hard. It was so lovely sitting there working from my remote office, I hardly noticed the screaming three-year-old disrupting the entire dining room as he attempted to shove his sister out of her chair. His mother had the same red rosy cheeks as he did, I think not for the same reason however. But soon his tantrum was averted with sugar and carbohydrates, and all was well in the world again. After the end of my lovely work day which felt more like I had been hanging out soaking up good energy all day than actually working, I took a long walk around the grounds. The arboretum covers 1,047 acres now, so I certainly didn’t get to see it all. Or even most of it. But I did get to tour the lilac gardens, the oldest display on the arboretum grounds, which boasts 26 species, 123 cultivars and 179 specimens. Puts my measly little 100-year old lilac hedge in Duluth to shame, I tell you what. Lavender, dark purple, white, the blooms were as endless as the unhappy cries of a toddler in a tantrum. Lilac Flowers
“I spy… a painter in the lilacs!”
Spot the Painter After the lilacs I took a stroll through the Japanese garden, called “Seisui Tei,” or Garden of Pure Water. This is a peaceful place, with shady nooks and waterfalls and a koi pond. Japanese Garden I didn’t make a note of the species, but this tree was absolutely lovely, with delicate pink flowers framing every slender curving branch. Think Pink! Everywhere I walked, beautiful flowering trees and bulbs and spring flowers filled me up with sunshine and well-being. I am including this picture for no other reason that I find it intensely amusing. Spring is, after all, a time for, well, you know, fertility. Birds do it. Bees do it. Asian Lady Beatles do it. I must say I was impressed with their ability to walk around upside-down during the process. They never stopped moving as I attempted to zoom in on them. Either she was very camera-shy, or very hungry. Not sure which. Beatle Love But my overall favorite-ist-of-all moment came accidentally, when I was out behind the building in the bulb garden. A group of school children were visiting and came wandering into my field of view just as I was snapping pictures. Little girl with Flowers I absolutely died when I saw this little girl coming into my view finder at just the right moment to capture her, completely un-posed and unaware. Her curls, her uniform, her bouquet of dandelions carried behind her back... it was almost enough to make me want to conceive another child. Then I remembered my twenty-year-old and snapped back to reality. The day at the arboretum was exactly what my soul yearned for, exactly what my senses craved. I left there that day, facing a long drive home fighting traffic most of the way, with a peacefulness I had not felt since before leaving for CO. If you ever have the chance to visit this sacred and beautiful place, I urge you to do so. Your soul will thank you. And so will your camera.
“I love spring everywhere, but if I could choose I would greet it in a garden.” Ruth Stout Blessings – Victoria

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