Saturday, April 4, 2009

Flowers, Trees, Cacti, and Shrubs

Last Thursday we went on a field trip to the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, just south of Pasadena.
It wasn't easy, but we did it.
There was about twenty of us who were going, and it took four car loads of people to get us there. I chose to drive with my lovely case manager, Erin. This turned out to have been a mistake, as we got lost on the intricate freeway system of Los Angeles rather easily.
There were five of us in her car. Erin drove, with her "friend" Noel sitting shotgun, and supposedly navigating. I sat in the back seat, along with one of my neighbors, Ray, and another man named Watson. We were headed north on the 101 when Noel apparently spotted an accident occurring in the southbound lanes. With Erin and Noel's attention briefly diverted, we missed our exit onto the San Bernardino Freeway, and we wound up in Echo Park somehow. Noel reported the accident using his cell phone.
We had to stop at a gas station to get directions.
"You know I'm going to blog about this," I assured Erin.
"I hope you mention that it was our compassionate nature and care for our fellow human beings that made us miss our exit," she said.
"Sure, sure, I'll mention it," I said. Case managers are not above rationalization.
Eventually we got back on track and the right freeway. We chatted while driving.
"Okay," Erin asked, "what's everybody's favorite season?" She was attempting to liven the conversation.
"Salt," I replied.
"Season salt," Watson agreed.
"No, no, I mean what season of the year," Erin explained.
"I like oregano," Ray stated.
"Oregano is good," I agreed.
"Sage has always been my favorite," Noel added.
"Alright, alright, I give up. Okay, I've always been a tarragon kind of girl," Erin laughed.
Thank God we got that cleared up.
We got off the freeway in Alhambra and headed east into San Marino. This town is listed as the 47th most expensive place to live in the U.S., and you could certainly tell by the big, beautiful homes and manicured lawns. In a world where thousands of people die each day from starvation, I find such displays of opulence offensive, however I endured.
In 1902 Henry Edwards Huntington, a business tycoon involved in railroad companies, utilities, and real estate, moved his holdings to Los Angeles, and bought what was then the San Marino Ranch.
The brochure states that, "during his lifetime, he amassed the core of one of the finest research libraries in the world, established a significant art collection, and created an array of botanical gardens with plants from a geographic range spanning the globe."
Henry married his uncles widow, Arabella, and together they created what is now the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. They're dead now, and buried in a mausoleum on the property.
We never did get to see the library or art collection. We just did the gardens, but boy, there was a lot of garden to see, with over a dozen distinct gardens covering 120 acres.
We met case manager Paul at the entrance, with his crew, and eventually caught up with the interns, Erica and Paul. Together we roamed the grounds.
We didn't have much time, about an hour really, before we had to head back. The trip had been publicized as everybody being back home by three-thirty, and it was two o'clock by the time we arrived.
We began in the Desert Garden, where there was just about every type of cactus you would ever hope to see. And there are lizards there, I've seen them.
Adjacent to the Desert Garden are the Lilly Ponds, where giant Koi fish swim majestically through the muddied waters, and turtles sunbath on the surrounding rocks.
Erin molested a nearby goose who was busy eating pieces of grass and minding its own business. We have photographic evidence of this. Digital! Or maybe the goose was molesting Erin, I'm not sure, but there was definitely some molesting going on.
As we were leaving the area, two small children ran up to the poor goose and tried to catch it. The horrified bird had to take flight to find sanctuary in the nearby pond, where it was viciously attacked and summarily eaten by the ravenous, torpedo like, Koi.
Just kidding. We didn't see the Koi eat the goose, but then again, we never saw the goose again either.
Next was the exquisite Japanese Garden which really looked like a hillside in rural Japan. There are streams with more Koi, bridges to walk over, giant bamboo, and ducks. On a previous visit with Erin and Paul, to make sure the place was safe for the larger group, Erin and I found two ducks swimming in the streams of the Japanese Gardens. They said, "Quack, quack," to each other.
Erin and I mocked them. "Quack, quack," we both said. "Quack, quack."
As we entered the Bonsai Tree section I reminded Erin not to touch the trees again. When in this very garden the last time we were here, Erin got all touchy feelie with one of the Bonzais, and was admonished quite thoroughly by one of the nearby attendants. Today, however, Rodney got completely away with it while groping one of the plants. This perturbed Erin to no end.
It was about time to leave as we exited the Japanese Garden. We separated into groups and made our way to the parking lot, with Erin charmingly and melodically chanting, "Find my car, find my car, stick your head in a pickle jar."
We located Erin's car, and returned home without incident.
And thus we communed with flowers, trees, cacti, and shrubs.

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