After spending yesterday working in the backyard beds, I was eager to visit a more complete garden and so headed to Mercer first thing this morning. In addition to flowers and quiet and squirrels, the arboretum is where I get a chance to poke around in my "story brain" without feeling pressure to commit perfection to paper; it is a place where writing and play and make-believe are kissing cousins.
This began earlier than usual this morning, with a beige bra strewn in the middle of one of the roads that curve through the neighborhood and a great black dog with a feathered coat and an odd bend to the back legs--skinwalker out for a morning jog? With her family, perhaps...there was a man jogging with a stroller just around the next corner. Urban fantasy isn't really my genre, but the imagination takes what it can from the morning, stealing not just scenes but, if one is lucky, the pull of the wind and the sense that you are in the same vigorous current that pushes the clouds, the imperative motion of spring
The arboretum itself more high fantasy. As frustrated as I get with my writing, there are always new nuances hiding in the delphiniums and poppies and azaleas, in the lizards rustling beneath the greenery, in my trying to walk silently so as not to scare the frogs until they've been thoroughly photographed, and in my own inevitable paranoia about spiderwebs in my hair, frog squeaks as they leap underwater, and deer. (Which I love to see from a car window or behind a fence but not perked and staring on the same path on which I'm walking.) Fear and the wonder are fairy tale elements well mined from the morning.
I was taking pics of amaryllis when I saw with pollen sacs the color of Cheetos trying for another few grains from a highrise stalk of yellow flowers. In another section of the garden a specimen yaupon tree leaned toward the path, trunk the color of old, smooth concrete. The way the trunk flattened in the middle and swelled at each side as it bent--two trunks that had merged, maybe--reminded me of the curbs I used to take on my bike when I was younger. There is a Yaupon Street in the town where I grew up. The bee and the bicycle are going in different directions, feeding divergent storylines.
There are so many beginnings that exist in the arboretum and I am sometimes surprised to find how much of it has colonized my writing. Then again, it is a pleasant place to wander.