Connie and Leonora

Connie joined us for our first week in Mexico City, flying down in the afternoon the day after our own arrival. A bright “I made it!” grin on her face and that of her taxi driver, a common side effect of successfully navigating a new destination without a common language other than smiling and waving.

In the months before our trip, she had become fascinated by the life and art of Leonora Carrington, a surrealist artist who called Mexico City home for most of her adult life. Connie shared with us how much she loved the story of a strong woman artist, the sacrifices she’d made to remain independent and creative, and the range of powerful mythological and indigenous imagery present in Leonora’s work. This excitement infected us too in anticipation of our visit to this magical metropolis, and we quickly made plans to share our time and lodgings in order to experience Leonora’s city with Connie.

A great bronze sculpture by Leonora sits prominently along the Paseo de la Reforma in the center of Mexico City. Originally installed in a fountain of Chapultepec park, it now sits in the pedestrian boulevard at Havre. Apparently Lewis Caroll’s whimsy was a recurring source of inspiration for Leonora, this piece is often referred to as “Cocodrilo” but the full title is “How Doth The Little Crocodile…”. We walked up from the metro stop Insurgentes, sunshine warming the pedestrian mall of Zona Rosa and dappling the Paseo’s wide walkway. As we neared the statue, the roadway was closed and filled with a long line of riot cops stretching to the ongoing protests for the now-nine-months-missing Ayotzinapa 43, beneath a banner declaring “Government and Education should not Assassinate.”. The crocodiles of the statue are frozen above our heads rowing away from this memorial and back towards the Angel and forest of Chapultepec.

Leonora’s former home in Mexico City is a reasonable twenty minute walk from the Paseo, south of the Insurgentes station on the small side street Chihuahua. Nearby a delicious-smelling bakery’s delivery fleet of bicycles were just heading out with baskets. Much of the neighborhood is rebuilt following the ’85 earthquake, but it is possible to imagine Leonora living behind the remaining simple facade here until her death in 2011. After a further walk among the figs and hibiscus flowers of Avenida Amsterdam’s garden-like path, we enjoyed a favorite lunch of tacos al pastor at El Califa and returned home to discuss Leonora’s surrealist influences from alchemy to mythology.

Bakery bicycle delivery
El Califa classic

One of our favorite educational stops here is the National Anthropology Museum, an overwhelmingly massive building featuring indigenous pre-conquest and modern-day artifacts from all regions of Mexico. In 1963 Leonora was commissioned to paint a mural for the Mayan exhibit, and she traveled to the state of Chiapas for inspiration and folklore research, resulting in “The Magical World of the Mayans”. Luck was on our side in finding this complexly surreal mural in the museum as it recently left Mexico for the first time to be exhibited at London’s Tate Liverpool, but it was waiting unmistakably for us on the second floor. The detail and energy of the piece absorbed us for thirty minutes at the end of our anthropological tour, so many strange faces, animals, and mystery blended in her interpretation of heaven, earth, and the underworld.

At the National Anthropology Museum
The Magical World of the Mayans

Two other museum experiences anchored Connie’s visit to the time and place of Leonora’s Mexico City. The Museum of Modern Art, though it did not have any of Leonora’s work on display, presented two fitting exhibits: A large collection of Giséle Freund’s documentary photography featuring Mexican artists, studio spaces, and exhibitions; and an assortment of films about artists featured Remedios Varos and David Alfaro Siqueiros alongside several of their works.

On Connie’s last day with us, we returned to Frida Kahlo’s home and museum (La Casa Azul), a short walk from our apartment. Every time I’ve been inside is so peaceful despite its popularity, it must have been a marvelous place to live and create through the pain; a wonderful light-filled studio and kitchen, and a garden courtyard filled with greenery, running water, and the omnipresent dark volcanic stone of Mexico City.

In Frida Kahlo's Blue Courtyard

An autumn walk

Along the creek

The rain came early this morning, leaving space for a mild dry partly cloudy afternoon. After spending much of the day reading, we headed out for a walk. Our trees have left about half their leaves in our yard so far – or rather, half the trees have lost most of their leaves, and the other half are saving them for sometime less convenient in the winter. Neighbors have waist-high leaf piles bordering the road, or are holding out for one big rake.

Creek trail fall colors

Our house is between two brushy creeks on the west side of town, and a handful of powerline easements criss-cross on their way to the power substation to the east. As we walked along the unexplored loops and cul-de-sacs near but new to us, I eyed what I’d hoped to find: an access path towards one of the creeks without a house or private property no trespassing sign.

Quiet, only the most occasional glimpse of a roof or a sewer pipe crossing the creek, and wonderful woods smells and fall colors. A surprising splash of wild hidden within town, and a crisp but comfortable day for discovering it.

We eased back through a field along a powerline and back to the road, continuing our walk into dusk until our looping traipsing returned us home.

Creek trail fall colors

Grape Island, Boston Harbor

On the return drive from Maine we camped on an island in the Boston Harbor.

The view to Boston

Grape Island is one of the smaller islands accessible by ferry in the Boston Harbor Islands park. At one time a hay farm, the island is low and covered mostly in sumac and fruit trees, with plenty of wildlife, a surprising number of moonflowers along the shoreline, and yes a few grape-covered arbors. The grass-covered paths cut through the 40 acres of the island’s interior reminded us almost of an English garden, so quiet, neat, and full of life.

You must carry in and out everything you need on the island, our one night stay only needed some water and the makings for a cheese and sausage platter dinner. We took the ferry from Hingham, a 10 minute ride and the first stop among the islands from this direction. There are 10 campsites on the island, only 4 were occupied for our stay, and for the most part we seemed to have the island to ourselves. The majority of our time between setup and dark was spent exploring the entire perimeter of the island, enjoying the fine gravel beach and the full transition from low to high tide.

Looking for rocks
Boulders revealed by low tide
The isthmus nearly gone
Sunset is coming

In the evening a thunderstorm rolled by, a refreshing shower on the rocks for a few minutes and beautiful lightning in the distance. After a few minutes it had passed and the sun returned. A rare perfect moment in life.

Stormclouds
Rain on a tidepool
Embracing the rain

Deer Isle, Maine

At the start of August, before leaving Philadelphia, we took one more trip to see New England. Our planned destination: Acadia NP, and a nearby sustainable homestead hostel on Deer Isle.

Untitled

I first discovered this project in a writeup a year ago about the timber-framed colonial-era construction of the hostel building, and then followed Anneli’s blog for their perspective on running an off-grid hospitality venture. Dennis would later in the weekend show us his axe collection: his father was a champion lumberjack and passed on a deep caring for tools that shape wood. Each axe had a story, a purpose, and a very sharp edge.

Untitled

We spent two nights with the hostelers, the experience was superb in part for the foggy wooded island setting, in part for the ways it reflected the best of hosteling and encountering unexpectedly like-minded fellow travelers, and mostly for the surprising ways Dennis and Anneli have made a rustic experience reflect the grace of their caring attention. The hostel is well-run, well-crafted, and well-thought-out.

Our first night there we hiked off towards the coast a ¼-mile through the woods by a trail into the next-door Edgar M. Tennis Preserve.

Untitled
Untitled

Dinner each night at the hostel is a collective effort with the hosts asking for specific non-staple/non-garden needs, which they then prepare and share with everyone at the common table in the downstairs of the hostel building, and ask that guests share the dishes duty afterwards. An advantage of the small size of the hostel – max guests at this time is ~14: everyone can reasonably sit at dinner and join in the conversation. That first night we were joined by a Seattle yoga instructor staying the week, and a family (parents and early-20s kids) returning to Maine for a family vacation after several years away at school and first jobs. The second night we shared stories with a couple of librarians down from New Brunswick and an older single woman from Massachusetts – the hostel was closer to full that night, but several guests either chose to spend the evening in Stonington or arrived quite late.

There is a pump on property but no running water or electricity in the hostel building – solar-charged lamps provide evening lighting, a gas stove heats water hauled up in five-gallon containers, and a composting toilet with ample sawdust and a sink and mirror is situated out the back door. There is an ingenious open-roofed showering room off in the woods, with a spigot run through a coil in the midst of a compost pile – hot water a short lift away. In each case, these potentially off-putting off-grid inconveniences were introduced by our hosts in happy tones and showed a detailed craft and accomodation that made them welcoming and inspiring. (Of course, not as foreign or off-putting for me as for an imagined average guest?)

Untitled

Untitled

On our second day we drove up and around to Acadia National Park, including a quick hike in the foggy rain to the top of Flying Mountain and fresh crab at a roadside stand. The drive along the sounds and inlets was idyllic, the hike vertical with great views south to the mouth of Somes Sound, and the crab a perfect taste of the sea. We returned to the hostel refreshed and with plenty of time for relaxing, reading, and a sun-filled shower.

Untitled
Untitled

Untitled
As we left at 8am the next morning, Stephanie wished for coffee and muffins. And suddenly there it was, a muffin shop in the backroom of an old couple’s home, the blueberry and rhubarb muffins steaming out of the centrally placed ceramic oven and the coffee just being brewed as we waited chatting with the owners. “Oh, we’ve heard good things about that hostel up there, glad you had a good time on Deer Isle.” Thank you, we had a lovely weekend in Maine.

Untitled

Moving to Milledgeville

About a month ago, just before setting off on our vacation, Stephanie received great news: a fantastic job offer to continue pursuing her college teaching career. As Georgia College and State University‘s new Assistant Professor of Latin American and Caribbean History, she’ll be teaching in her field at a small liberal arts school, with a supportive faculty and lots of freedom to design her classes and inspire students towards further study and excitement about Latin America.

Georgia College and State University

Her new professorship is a tenure-track position, up for review in 3 years. This means we know where we’ll be living and working for the next several years, little Milledgeville, Georgia (population 17,715; state capitol up through the Civil War). Smack in the middle of the state, it’s a reasonable drive to the coast (Savannah), and to most of Stephanie’s family (Atlanta is two hours away, South Carolina a three-hour drive). School starts August 19th, so the move is coming up in just over a month.

In addition to the great opportunity for Stephanie, I’m excited for the move for many reasons centered on the ruralness of the area. Surrounded by the Baldwin State Forest, and a short drive to the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, we’ll have no shortage of nearby woods to explore. There are numerous small lakes in the area in addition to the large reservoir Lake Sinclair. Kayaks are likely in our future.

Compared to our tiny Philadelphia one bedroom apartment, we’ll be moving to a house with a yard. (We’ll also have room for visitors to stay with us comfortably again.) We’re optimistic our landlord will let us grow a garden, and in the long growing season of the south (USDA Zone 8!) I’m looking forward to quite the garden, and will try to even get in some greens this fall.

We don’t actually know where we’re going to live yet, whether we’ll find a nice place in town or a few miles out – perhaps towards the lake, or a lot buried in the woods – because we’re waiting until we can drive around and get used to the area before renting for the year. To make this feasible, we’re moving with a container service who will store our belongings for a month, and we’ve rented a short-term place for the three weeks of August by negotiating a cheap rate from a furnished vacation rental on the lake. But watching the rental listings, it looks like there will be some good possibilities for September (though I may have to settle for an electric stove).

Another new start to undertake, we’re thrilled to be heading south this year with a great future ahead of us.

Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage

In 1879 John Muir travelled by steamship from California to Alaska, seeking firsthand experience with glaciers. Just a year or so behind the discovery of gold in the Klondike, and a year before the founding of Juneau, he would spend two seasons canoeing and hiking and cataloging the life of ice.

Our journey to Alaska began in Vancouver, BC. Stephanie’s parents had driven from South Carolina over the preceding weeks, and met us at the airport. Our room for the night in Vancouver was a short walk from Stanley Park, and rather than an afternoon nap I opted for a pre-cruise run along the marina and through the park, providing a welcome first whiff of that tidal salty kelpy evergreen smell that the Pacific Northwest ocean offers. Copious sushi for dinner brought everyone into a related seafood frame of mind.

In the morning we headed to the docks to board our boat, the Celebrity Century. My first cruise ship, larger than I was expecting but not overwhelming. Early arrivals, we had no wait and were soon aboard. The turnaround time for the boat is impressive, especially as would become clear upon our return in a week, as the boat had only arrived and disembarked its previous passengers 3 hours earlier.

Looking out to Vancouver

We set sail in the afternoon, and settled into our room on the 9th floor we watched the port recede and sped towards the channel between the mainland and Vancouver Island. Back in the land of mountains, it is still surprising to see how tall the island is – comparable mountain ranges on both sides of the ship.

Watching the mountains go by
Our only sunset

By morning we would be in fairly open ocean headed for the Inside Passage, the bulk of our cruise and the extent of Muir’s exploration. Whereas he would start at Fort Wrangell and recruit a Tlingit canoe and crew, along with a missionary co-adventurer, eventually making his way to Hoonah across from the entrance to Glacier Bay and then explore within Glacier Bay, we would head our 1600-person ship first for Hoonah.

Anchored at Hoonah, AK

Now a recently added destination for cruiseships due to the construction of “Icy Strait Point”, with the “world’s largest” zipline and a museum/shopping complex, this would be our only stop where we could not dock but instead anchored and rode the “tender” liferafts to shore. The town of Hoonah, a mile walk from the dock, is a tiny fishing village – most of the locals we saw on our walk were preparing/repairing the hulls of their trawlers in the boatyard. An elephant seal appeared for a moment, and it began to rain steadily as we returned to the ship.

Walking to Hoonah
Sun over Icy Strait Point

Our time on the ship settled into a relaxing pattern of leisurely mornings, lunch at the buffet, card games and drinks in the forward windowed lounge, reading and a rolling-of-the-ship-and-cocktail-induced afternoon nap, and dinner in the dining room. No thought of swimming or playing basketball as the days grew steadily windier, just relaxation between excitement at each port of call.

Lounging

The next morning found us turning into Yakutat Bay, headed towards Hubbard Glacier. The air immediately turned colder though we had two hours till we reached the glacier. Old glacial valleys interrupt the steep cliffs of the bay’s own old glacial form, and birds are everywhere along the shoreline, dots moving against the dark cascade-covered walls. The last mile was an ice field of tiny bergs that we picked our way slowly through, but already the glacier filled the horizon, a band of blue and gray under the low clouds. We navigated to within half a mile of the glacier and the captain slowly spun the boat in place as we watched for calving bergs from our balcony.

Making our way to Hubbard
Former glacier
Hubbard Glacier
At Hubbard Glacier

Returning ocean-side, we made our way overnight back into the passage and awoke to find ourselves nearly to Juneau. Our schedule here involved an early morning hike up to above Mendenhall Glacier, from just below the glacial runoff lake. (Another blogger who lives in Juneau recently posted lovely pictures of kayaking the lake.) Only 3 others from our boat joined us on this excursion: a mother and daughter from Toronto and an older gentleman from Dublin, who had never smelled a skunk nor skunk cabbage but was not afraid to investigate the latter. After climbing through the wet forest, our hike turned vertical and we scrambled up a series of rock pathways to higher views of the glacier before returning for lunch in town.

In the forest
Steep hike to Mendenhall
Above Mendenhall Glacier

When Muir returned to Alaska ten years later, steam cruise ships were already commonplace and the tell-tale signs of the industry have not changed much.

We arrived at Wrangell in the rain at 10:30 PM. There was a grand rush on shore to buy curiosities and see totem poles. The shops were jammed and mobbed, high prices paid for shabby stuff manufactured expressly for tourist trade. Silver bracelets hammered out of dollars and half dollars by Indian smiths are the most popular articles, then baskets, yellow cedar toy canoes, paddles, etc. Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook-maker, however ignorant.

Other ships waited to take our spot or to follow on with us towards Ketchikan as we left Juneau. The day’s journey would give us the best views of the narrow steep channels of the Inside Passage, ending in the Tongass Narrows for a rainy day in Ketchikan. Stephanie and I had another all-day excursion here, a bus ride to the northern end of the peninsula and a choppy ride across to the sheltered side of the Tatoosh Islands for a few hours of sea kayaking.

Along the way we encountered a Humpback Whale circling one of the islands and seals watching from the rocks, and while kayaking encountered Lion’s Mane jellyfish, mink, and the island walls revealed countless orange and purple starfish from the receding tide. (By this point in the trip, the numerous bald eagles barely registered.) The rain came and went, but we were suited up and dry in our double kayak. The paddling was as a loose group, and those of us more capable in the water followed a guide towards more open water, only to learn that true sea kayaking would have to wait as the swells started to match our own height and required tacking with the waves to remain steady and return to the sheltered coves and passages.

Sea kayaking
Damp from kayaking

Exhausted, we made it back to the ship in time to sail back towards Vancouver in the rain and rolling seas. A wonderful week spent with family and taking in the wilderness of Alaska admist the comfort of a cruise, I would love to do it all again.

Camping in the Poconos

For Memorial Day Weekend we ventured north a few hours through Lehigh valley and up the gorge to Hickory Run State Park for camping and hiking. We loaded up the car Saturday morning and with coffees in-hand and a sunny but cool forecast we puttered up Highway 309. After groceries and a scenic tour through Allentown, we stopped at a diner in Bowmanstown for sandwiches. The last leg of the drive dropped into Jim Thorpe, PA, named for the famed 1912 Olympian who went to the Carlisle Indian School located nearby. Twenty minutes beyond, we are deep in forest and turn into the campground.

Creekside campsite

Our campsite (#9) is at the very end of the large campground area, right next to Sand Spring Run – they call all the creeks around here runs, it’s pretty steep country – and among rhodedendrons and hemlocks. It is labeled a walk-in site, but only perhaps 20ft from the shared parking spot for the 10 walk-in sites. Three of the other nearby sites are occupied, the most neighbors we’ll have all weekend it turns out. After setting up camp and studying the map we decide for some light hiking in the remaining afternoon as a warmup to a full day of hiking Sunday.

Shades of Death trailhead
Happy to be camping

The campground runs along a few creek runs, one of which is dammed every quarter mile into small deep ponds. The CCC built some of these, or perhaps repaired them all from earlier industry? The Shades of Death trail follows this run down to the main park office, dropping 300ft in a mile and cutting through and around large stone outcroppings. It is clear that the ground throughout the park is a thin layer on top of constant rock and boulders.

Through the rock
Stametz Dam
In the trees

Dinner (hamburgers and humus), a campfire, and an early night shortly after sundown. Destined to be a cold night with a fierce gusting wind: low of 41°F, to be surpassed with 36°F the following night. We were incredibly thankful for the good campfire, winter hoodies, and for bringing our winter sleeping bags and flannel liners.

Up at 7am after things warmed up a little, coffee oatmeal and a quick fire. Our plan is for an early drive over to the trailhead for Boulder Field trail, and after packing water and a lunch of peanut butter banana sandwiches and apples, we arrive 5 minutes down the road, second car. It is cool and brightly sunny, and after an initial steep meadow with wild strawberry blossoms we dive into a beech forest, a rocky trail and endless undergrowth of ferns. The trail steadily but barely climbs (a few hundred feet over 3.5 miles) and at points seems liable to be swallowed back into the forest except for the bright yellow blazes.

Beech forest, Boulder Field trail
Ferns a-swooshing
Hemlock forest, Boulder Field trail

Occasionally the forest darkens into hemlock and rhododendrons – it is through one of these after 2 hours that we encounter the first other people on the trail, and then suddenly find ourselves on the edge of the boulder field. It is imposing and a challenge to take in – the averge boulder is about a foot across, making the full 400ft across like picking your way across a creek, with occasional large boulders and some natural waist-deep depressions from the sorting of the stones. The families we meet had crossed it from the parking lot on the far side, but we’re going to save our energy for the return trip and only venture a little into the field. Lunch and soaking up some of the sun-warmed stone’s heat – the breeze has picked up again though and the relative warmth of the woods calls us for the return hike.

Up to my waist in boulders
(Photo by Stephanie)
At Boulder Field
Made it!
Drawing the boulder field
(Photo by Stephanie)

We finished the early afternoon with a quick hike on the other side of the trailhead down to Mud Run and Hawk Falls, a perfectly fine but heavily visited falls. A total of 8.5 miles for the day, we returned to camp to rest our feet. Surprising for the middle of the holiday weekend, all but one of our neighbors had left so for a few hours we were the only tent we could see. One of them, a large group of college kids who clearly had been too cold left a great large stump of firewood that would form the core, along with the remnants of our Christmas tree saved for this camping trip, of a bright warm fire all evening. I hiked down our creek a few hundred feet and found a beautiful falls right below us.

Falls
Falls

We played cards, made potatoes and sausages and s’mores, and again turned in shortly after the sun left us in the cold night. Returned home this morning refreshed and steeped in campfire smoke. Good camping.

Getting in the holiday spirit

This weekend we planned to drive to New Jersey, for hiking and to start the holiday season with a fresh cut Christmas tree. Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, and we headed out after coffee and rearranging our bedroom to make room for a tree.

A quick stop by the library brought us up Passyunk, and while stopped at a light next to a stand of trees we changed our mind: here’s a reasonably priced fir a few blocks from home, let’s go bowling instead!

We still got a few miles of hiking in: walking the tree back rather than strapping it onto the roof for a few blocks trip. The return to get the car: finally, some parking luck right across the street from our apartment. A walk through south Philly to Pep Bowling, only to find their few lanes fully occupied with a 12-year old’s birthday party in full swing, and a walk back to Center City to the just-fine Lucky Strike. Good cheer and two losses to my wife’s consistent bowling, a lovely outing.

Stephanie picks up the spare.

Stephanie picks up the spare.

The tree had been stretching out at home, filling the apartment with a wintry forest aroma. From our 3 ornaments a few years ago, we’ve by now picked up a fair number from friends, family, and travels, so with plenty of lights and some glass beads, decorating was set in short order. Another string of lights for the living room ambiance, and some dollar store stockings to hang from the mantle later in the week.

Let the festivities begin!

Let the festivities begin!

Finally, this morning I took the trimmed branches and made a little swag for the door, and then Stephanie and I watched The Nutcracker, which we followed with some rye bagels with chopped pickled herring salad. I’d say we’ve got the spirit in full swing now!

May your hallways smell good too.

May your hallways smell good too.

Sunday afternoon in the kitchen

A crisp fall morning and a trip to the market inspired an afternoon in the kitchen. We started with a walk down to the Vietnamese shopping district at 5th and Washington, it is fascinatingly like our old Chicago neighborhood, right down to a Ba Le bakery – I wonder how directly they are connected. The supermarket there will be a regular stop in the future, from rice and seafood to sandalwood soap. The return trek home brings us through the Italian Market and the produce stands there, still full of fall vegetables. Hot peppers, tomatoes, potatoes…

My kitchen list for the day actually started much earlier in the week, with a new whole wheat sourdough starter. I had a great run this year before the move keeping a starter active and a loaf of bread a part of my regular schedule, but with the move and the heat of summer I let it go. It’s a pretty reliable 5 day process to go from flour and water (and a little cumin, following my trusted Joe Ortiz recipe, thanks to a book from my Aunt Jane years ago) through a handful of refreshments to a sour active starter, and by Saturday morning it was ready to turn into a dough (reserving a small container in the fridge to start next week’s loaf).

The apartment has been just a little cool for bread over the last few days though, so a typically 16 hour rise stretched to 21, with it going into a loaf pan at 6am this morning and slowly rising again in the warmed oven.

In the meantime, let’s make some granola. Still using my mom’s old bowl that we used for granola and breadmaking growing up (she sent it to me when I started making bread in college). Toast the oats in the cast-iron skillet. Toast the nuts (hazelnuts today). Toast the coconut. Toss it all together in the bowl with dried fruit (apricot today) and drizzle maple syrup (still working through last year’s Marquette Michigan syrup today) until it starts to stick and maybe clump a little bit.

Dough has finally doubled in the pan. Especially with wild yeast you just have to wait until it’s ready and be patient. But if you wait (and get the temperature hospitable), it will get there and hold together. Into the oven for 55 minutes at 400.

 

I’m inspired this week by two tigress in a pickle posts, so let’s make some fermented sriracha. This is a first for me, but I like fermenting things, and I like hot hot things, so a mix of hot red thai peppers and red jalapeños go in a bowl with garlic and salt to develop some more of that wild yeast flavor this week.

The other post was for homemade tomato paste and sold me with the simple idea of using icecube trays to save the paste in tablespoon-sized quantities instead of the cans that always end up in my fridge half-full. We’re always looking for ways to bring the late summer taste of tomatoes with us through the winter, but no time for a big canning project in our tiny apartment this year, this seems (and smells like) a perfect compromise, turning nearly a gallon of tomato puree into a concentrated cup of paste to wait in our freezer.

The bread is out and cooling.

Lights at Longwood Gardens

After the Mushroom Festival dissolved in the rain we drove a few minutes away to our evening adventure: a Bruce Munro installation at Longwood Gardens. The rain promised to stretch out for the rest of the evening, just steady and wet. One spare umbrella in the trunk with holes starting to appear, we agreed to replace it with a sunny new one and both enjoy a few hours walking the gardens in the rain.

Credit: Stephanie

Beautiful gardens, muted and relatively empty due to the weather but the plants were loving it. Great flowering trees and colorful peppers beneath.

We toured through the art installations, fiber optic light in flowers, orbs, and candles situated in buildings, along lakes, and in the meadows and forests of the gardens. Before dark we were the only people in this beautiful red cedar and douglas fir treehouse:

Candlelight (and Stephanie) – Bruce Munro 2012

And then after a warming cup of chili at the cafe, darkness came and the curious glass and plastic globes took on a magical waving floating nature, like finding yourself in a childhood wonderland or Miyazaki movie.

Snowballs – Bruce Munro 2012

Water Towers (and umbrella) – Bruce Munro 2012