Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Just traveling down memory lane today, folks…

Shut your eyes the next time you smell freshly-cut grass — shut them and let that scent take you back in time and space. Where does your memory take you?

As for me — there I was, pushing the rusty old lawnmower through the ankle-high grass on a warm, humid summer’s day in Detroit. We didn’t own the fancy kind with an engine. Who would waste good money on an expensive thing like that when there was a healthy twelve year old girl to push the old one? It was my job to mow the lawn, and I (sometimes) liked it. The front lawn was pretty basic, just two patches of grass flanking the front walkway to the stoop, but the garage-less back yard was a different thing entirely. I’d push the mower down the skinny walkway alongside the house and enter a world of scent and color.

I had to be careful not to mow too close to the border of lilies of the valley, so aromatic, their waxy creamy blossoms arching over the edge too near my whirring blades. I’d mow around the sun-dappled Rose of Sharon tree just as carefully; I didn’t want to bump into it and disturb the bees humming deep in the pinky-purple trumpet-shaped flowers. There was a patch of wild violets hiding in a hollow next to the Rose of Sharon, beautiful tiny visitors my grandmother forced me to evict from the premises (I’d asked for special dispensation for them, but the judge said no). Further back, the snowball bush was in full bloom too; each snowball was comprised of hundreds of tiny white flowers, and every snowball was bigger than my fist. The bush had been there so long, it wasn’t a bush any more. It was gigantic, so big you could barely see past it to the lilac bush in the corner. 

The lilac bush was old too, and huge — it had become a lilac tree. The dowager lilac tree draped her purple robes over the rickety wood-and-wire fence that separated the yard from the alley and hid the telephone pole that secretly propped her up. The individual blossoms were every color from almost blue to lavender pink to deepest purple, and the scent of the lilacs in bloom was so strong it could make you woozy. I’d cut the grass around her, then come back with shears, and fill one aromatic vase that would scent our entire small house.

I was thinking of those lilacs when I looked up the old house on Google. Detroit’s bankruptcy is big news at the moment — a million people have left, and so has hope. They say one picture is worth a thousand words:


I wonder if the ghosts of flowers haunt the ghetto?  Do the gangbangers and block bosses ever lift up their heads and sniff the air, confused by the scent of lilacs?


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The mission in Carmel has a lovely garden.  We zoomed in just a bit before they were closing:

Carmel mission garden gate

Wandering around with no particular agenda is my favorite way to travel.  Time was a bit constrained here, but a lot of prettiness can be absorbed in a short time:

I love the bright colors against the muted stucco and rock

The mission itself is lovely, and we were able to spend a bit of time in the interior of the church.  Look at that ceiling:

Inside the Carmel mission church


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Sometimes it’s the little things that catch my eye, like this pretty curved gate with a Norwegian surname above it on the arbor:

I like the little purple flowers climbing on the left side, too

Or windows that look just a little bit different:

Check out the ripply glass in these windows

Or something strange found on the beach!  The next photo requires some explanation.  If you read the Monterey Bay Aquarium post, you know about the giant kelp forest the aquarium was able to grow in their huge tank.  In nature, giant kelp anchors itself in the ocean by attaching itself to rocks at the bottom.  After a storm, you might walk on the beach and see this:

A kelp anchor washed up on the beach in Carmel after a storm

Next time I post, there will be photos of the second mission established by Fr. Junipero Serra and the Spaniards — Carmel Mission and its gardens:

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

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When we’re heading south and it’s time for an old-school happy hour, we head for Oceanside Harbor.  One of the last Jolly Roger restaurants, a living relic of a bygone era, overlooks the marina and has half price appetizers and drink specials in the upstairs bar.  (It also has easy parking for a truck and camper).  A marina is a nice place to go for a walk after a margarita or three:

Oceanside Harbor

If you head further down the 101, the Self-Actualization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas has an incredible garden that’s open to the public.  (You can’t miss the  temple’s golden dome; it’s just north of Swami Beach).

The garden's meandering streams, tiny waterfalls and koi ponds

There are benches tucked in here and there where you can meditate or just relax and watch the fish:


I like detouring off Pacific Coast Highway, driving down any street I think will get us close to the sight and sound of the ocean, and looking at places that don’t take themselves too seriously.  I actually did laugh out loud when we passed a tiny street named Little Orphan Alley!  🙂

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