Saturday, April 14, 2012

Füvészkert Szeged - an afternoon at the botanical garden

I have been itching to be in nature, so I decided to find somewhere green to go this weekend.  Szeged, though a beautiful city, is still a city.  Perhaps I am spoiled.  I did grow up in a forest, the creek chattering by our house, the river across the street, and the ocean only four miles down the road.  Then I lived on an avocado ranch, mountains tan and covered in rich green trees.  Okay, not perhaps -- I am definitely spoiled.

I asked Sándor, a co-worker at the high school, for recommendations about somewhere close I could go.  He recommended a field, or Szeged's botanical garden.  Well, I didn't have much desire to see the field, so I decided to go to the garden.

In perfect synchronicity, a friend of mine from yoga, Róbi, invited me to the botanical garden this weekend.  The weather forecast says rain, he wrote to me, but I will go anyway.  I like shiny things!

This made me smile.  It was a damp and earthy morning, the ground slicked with last night's rain.  Shiny things awaited us.

Light rain fell in a hush as we biked through town; over the bridge and out of the city.  I was so excited to see trees and fields and a pond and sheep and spring flowers blooming in front of cute houses.  I nearly crashed several times.  

But I made it to the garden alive, and it was just what I needed.  I could breathe again.


When I saw this woman, naked in her joy, I knew we needed to walk along this pond.  I saw a turtle paddling slowly with his (or her) small turtley feet.  Plop!s in the water were frogs jumping from the reeds into the pond.  I didn't see any, but Róbi saw one.  "What was it like?" I asked him.  "Like a frog," he said.

Wind sighed on the water's surface and the trees shimmered.  I was entranced.  

"Look!" I told Róbi, after I took this picture.  "The water looks like sky!"  

... "It is the sky.  You took a picture of the water."

Maybe I was getting too much oxygen.

While I was busy taking a picture of these blossoms, Róbi said to me, "Use your other sense!"
It took me a second, but I realized he meant for me to smell the flowers.

In the greenhouse tour, we saw a vanilla plant.  I sniffed the leaves.  "No smell," I whispered to him.  He smiled, whispering back, "Bite it!"

This is a fence to keep you from crossing the stream.  I wonder what's on the other side.

We took a tour of the greenhouses, which smelled warm and old, like home.

The whole visit was like being home.  When we saw deer in the meadow, when I walked on dewy grass, when I looked into the pond and saw trees -- I was in Oregon.  The greenhouse, warm and tropical, was California, the avocado ranch.  It ached in the best possible way.  

We left the path to wander through the meadow.  We saw deer, we sat on a bench made from a tree trunk (thank you, tree), and we used more senses.  I found seed pods on the ground, and opened one.  Orange mush slimed my fingers, but the seed was brown and smooth.  "It smells like something!"  I told Róbi definitively.  Nothing had ever been truer.  ;)  "Don't taste it," he told me.  "I won't!"  and then . . . "It smells like papaya."

He carried the seed in his long fingers as we walked.

These pictures can't bring you the sounds of the gardens.  Our feet -- on wooden walkways, sucking mud, wet in the grass.  The water, the sweet back-and-forth of it, the plop!s of creatures cherry-bombing, the slow wiggle of fish.  And the music, a song so full and tender I closed my eyes to hear it, of the many birds above.

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