My lovely Mum took me out today, to a local arboretum.
We had a leisurely lunch (the most delicious fishcakes with wild garlic sauce) and looked at their selection of art-from-local-artists, then went for a long, luxurious walk around the gardens.
We wandered down past the pond and saw the fish flickering and jumping in the murky water alongside the statue of a girl, ever gazing towards the horizon, then climbed up through beds of gunnera and bamboo into some quiet woodlands where we found some hilarious, friendly pigs in an enclosure.
Back down the hillside and over to the rockeries and alpine gardens to see the sculptural loveliness of the dense, tiny coniferous plants. We sat in the warm (yet totally overcast) air on a swing seat and passed the time of day.
Next we went through a bank of trees and crossed the road to a second area of the gardens where hundreds of azaleas and rhododendrons were planted.
It. Was. Stunning.
The azaleas and rhododendrons totally blew my mind – present in all colours, shapes and sizes – some scented, some with massive, structural leaves, some with huge plumes of deep, gorgeous flowers.
I amused myself (and Mum) by threading fallen flowers onto sticks and balancing them in trees of a contrasting colour or balancing fircones up the twisted lengths of branch. I have photos on my ancient phone, where I think they’re stuck for perpetuity, so let this be a point to let the imagination roam – it was gorgeous.
The flowers really were in every colour imaginable, from a nearly luminous yellow, through soft peach, brazen orange, every candy shade of pink, white and lilac to voluptuous reds so deep and sensuous you could nearly sink your teeth into them.
Perhaps the most surprising was a large tree covered in massive, white flowers with delicate, shell-pink edges which was signposted as one of the ‘Featured Plants’. Upon closer inspection, the area surrounding the tree was drenched with scent – melon! – pouring from each gleaming trumpet into the breeze.
As we walked and chatted, the worries and stresses of life seemed to fade slightly, or to become less ominous in the presence of such acres of beauty. Tension unwound from my mind and got lost amongst the trees, floating along at the extreme ends of my consciousness; not quite untethered but almost insubstantial, to be gathered in again later.
Though firmly back in the Real World now, I shall try to carry the stillness and stunningness of this afternoon in a small corner of my heart, to open up and look at when things get tough.
Ten Things of Thankful #2
1. My Mum, the arboretum, and whoever invented rhododendrons, obviously.
2. Half-grown pumpkin plant and jalapeno plant which were bought for me as presents, and which I shall enjoy tending to when they are hardy enough to be placed in my dubious care (for all my Mum’s a gardener by trade, I’ve inherited little of her green-fingeredness and struggle to support anything which thrives on more than neglect)
3. The job, advertised in the garden centre of the arboretum, which I subsequently applied for. If I get it (which would be lovely, though a long shot) would include fork-lift training, which would be awesome.
4. Husby had a good afternoon, in spite of not being able to get up before midday, and was chipper and energetic enough to get himself into town to sort some forms out.
5. Gaming with friends this evening was good fun and a brilliant distraction to finish the day off.
6. If I don’t get a job on leaving college, I’ll be able to do some gardening with Mum and some cleaning and admin elsewhere, which will help to cover the interim while I search.
7. I got a hilarious text message from a friend this evening, informing me “I just shot a wood pigeon. Woot!” which means that not only is my friend happy, but there’s one less flying rat in the skies over England.
8. I found a place in town which offers free books (well, they would really like a donation in exchange) in droves (or whatever the collective term for books is) – a whole roomful of them. Categorised. And free. SCORE!
9. I got to have a nap this morning after another ridiculously late night.
10. I have a full timetable tomorrow (that really shouldn’t be a thing to be thankful for, but the college has been so sketchy lately and messed us all around that they’ve finally sorted themselves out and consolidated our remaining learning into one place)