We had planned to spend the day at Longwood Gardens which has a wonderful music program and world renown lighted fountains that have fireworks during the summer synched with their musical program. It is a perfect solution - there are only three thousand people permitted on the grounds, you get to spend the full day in the gardens and conservatory and there is excellent food on the premises with many of the ingredients grown on the grounds. This was our second trip for the event and for the gardens and like all things seconded, you learn from the firsts.
Of course when you do things the second time you get new firsts too. Like fresh blueberry lemonade. It's a wonderful first.
We decided to start our day there at noon more or less and asked which Poppets would like to join us. The Most Adventerous Red of course was all for it but the Ambassodor felt he didn't really understand the holiday enough to know what to do at the Embassy so he'd really rather be a guest if we didn't mind. Of course we did not. Winter thought it would be lovely to look at all the flowers, maybe there would be something they could use in Poppetropolis or the garden for the House. When we got to the grounds we stopped at the cafeteria which amazed us with the food and sat down at the outdoor cafe with the map to plot our course and stake out the best spots as soon as we were allowed to put down our blankets for the fireworks.
The Most Adventurous Red was slightly distracted by the fresh berry parfait and the most amazing creme fraise I've ever had including in Paris.
The Poppets were thrilled with the idea that there was an Idea Garden, so My Very Dearest Friend, my Perfectly Normal Husband and I all set off with the Poppets to see what the Idea Garden meant.
The Idea Garden was actually 14 kinds of wonderful, it was put together by the professionals at Longwood but was meant to be able to give you usable ideas for your gardens at home. Some of the ideas were fun, like interactive water features in your backyard. You can make them yourself with some effort and some help.
Some of the ideas were BIG! Like sculpture and intricate hedge grooming but with minimal elements to keep it reasonable to maintain.
Some of the ideas were small. Like potted gardens for places with concrete, balconies and patios.
Then we wandered past ground covers and perennials, annuals and sustainment gardens. We discussed in depth the issues of entropy and irises and appreciated the immensity of the Idea Garden while moving on to the the Chime Tower, the Topiary Garden, the Flowered Walks. We stumbled on a Garden full of angles and built around Time.
We climbed cathedral treehouses overlooked meadows, studied trees as per our invitation to do so. We turned a corner thinking we knew what type of thing we were going to see and saw this instead:
We decided that there are somethings that wouldn't make being ridiculously rich seem like such a bad thing. The Italian Water Garden at Longwood it one of them. Lest you think that it is a rich man paying for copies of things he aspires to you should know that Mr. Dupont was a chemical engineer and graduate of MIT and he designed and engineered all of the waterworks himself. When you go there you are participating in his version of kinetic art. He most likely inspired Disney since his waterworks predate the parks.
We dined at the Terrace Gardens and fell in love with the Mushroom and Leek soup. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in a tasting menu with wine pairings after several hours of perusing the achievement of years of passion, planning and effort, I strongly recommend you put yourself in the chef's hands and say "yes".
It's odd, how last week I got a tiny bit of myself back in the city, surrounded with the peices of myself that get softened for people outside the city, and this week it was the gardens, not really nature but the collaboration between man and nature that Longwood represents. I wished for it to be slightly less populated so the garden could be walked through peacefully, but I loved all the languages and accents and clothing passing us in the gardens, women in saris and the new maxi dresses looked so lovely and real.
I am terribly patriotic, although I know how unfashionable it is to express it through joy instead of anger. I loved that people from all over the areas my son had studied were in these gardens in Pennsylvania waiting for sound and light and celebration for this country where me and my children are welcome, when there are many other places where we are not. Even now.
For hours the numb didn't even threaten, the peaceful joy you don't have to stretch for was there. Even the battery of the camera running out did not deter the Poppets from having their adventures. They have them even when no one records it, they find them in the least expected places living only in the memories and stories of those of us who travel with them. They found this in the conservatory . . . .
And then with the realization of the absence of pain, we joined our 3000 fellow celebrants. One of whom sitting near us recorded the performance of explosions and ingenuity. The music was beautiful, the sentiment was unifying and I had a day I can hold on to when the grey threatens again.
The video is a bit long and the camera shows the smoke a bit more than we saw it live but you will get the idea of the piece, so Thank You to our neighbor on the benches.
I smiled like a 10 year old through the whole program. I felt connected, having met one of the Fireworks designers earlier in the day when we bonded over mushroom soup.
And then it was time to return home. However Winter and the Ambassador had found the very thing that had been plaguing us at Poppetroplis. We have finally found the perfect conservatory for the Skeleton for his flower shop. An epic effort was made to reclaim it from the gift shop with the press of 3000 people all trying to exit through the same area the shop was in. Our six month quest now over, it has met with Skeletal approval and is being examined for modification. He is almost as happy as the Tiny Alien was with his exosuit. It's Independence Day for him!
I have no faith in my ability to hold one wonderful day, so I fought all my practical instincts down and composted them. Plants need a mix of things in their soil to thrive - my PH balance may come from cities, but some of my roots need beauty and sunshine as well. I joined the Gardens, they are an hour away, but they will be worth it for more days like yesterday.
Sometimes I really do love civilization, for all it's faults it has great good as well. And Mushroom Soup too. And Poppets on the 4th of July.
Life's not bad at all.