Flowers, happiness, and non-squished innards

StepsThe phrase “botanical garden” feels like my pants don’t fit. That probably needs explanation. When I was a wee lad, we took a summer vacation up to Victoria, British Columbia for a few days, and I remember three things: musicians down by the harbor, afternoon tea at the Empress, and the Butchart Gardens.


The musician was an Irish lad on his way to the international bagpipe championships in some exotic-sounding place. I believe it was Indiana. I was six. Tea at the empress was unnoticed beside the lesson that wearing the dress pants from your uncle’s wedding months prior is inadvisable when you’re a growing boy. I remember sitting at the table, unbuttoning my pleated prison, and taking the first full breath since we’d left the hotel.


Care for a crumpet?
No thank you, I’m busy letting my internal organs return to their customary habitat.



Nice little dellAs for the Butchart Botanical Gardens? Well, the lymphatic system only remembers the strongest sensations, so whatever floral fracas they presented were swept away by the sensation of death by abdominal strangulation.


So when my lady suggested we swing by the Tilden botanical gardens after an unreasonably enjoyable Sunday afternoon stroll with her and her preposterously lovable five year old son, it was more their presence than the destination that made me jump at the offer.



Redwood shadeBut I gotta hand it to the East Bay Regional Park District, they sure know how to garden. Placed in a little dell where a ticklish tributary of Wildcat Creek sneaks through, you can wander among a magnificent array of native California wildflowers, cacti, trees and anything that cared to grow a leaf in this zone over the few thousand years before outsiders arrived.


We sat in the sun and finished the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the world has ever known, and smiled with the benevolence of profoundly comfortable people at anyone who walked past.


Pointing it out

Safe to say, when I hear the phrase “botanical garden” now, the sensation I get is not one of crushed kidneys.