A beautiful public garden with numerous meandering paths by the Pacific Ocean, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens presents the visitor with blooming flowers and sumptuous ocean views. A must visit place in any trip to Mendocino in northern California, especially in the summer. I visited the gardens during one such memorable trip and here I am writing down a memoir complemented by a photo essay. Allow me to fill your screen with flowers – the living poems!
The Memory of Flowers!
When our vision meets a flower, magic ensues. The color of the flower or the fragrance can transport us to so many worlds. Our mind can quickly take a leap to many years back and we could sit beside the favorite flower pot in our childhood home. The smell of the rose can make our love-smitten moments alive that were lived decades ago. Perhaps we can conjure a future moment laden with beauty and poetry just like the flowers. A scope of infinite possibility to dwell in beauty spontaneously. A dynamic event, hard to reproduce or predict. Today, while walking down a known and habitual lane for my morning walk, I saw spring unfurled in almost every corner, and to my surprise, a completely unpredicted event happened. A few blooming flowers whisked my mind away to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg.
It’s a rainy Saturday morning today in San Jose, California. Night lamps are still on and the lights from them are reflected on the wet courtyard. I can see the raindrops making tiny circles and then disappearing. The valley afar is hiding behind the cloud. Unmindfully, I switched on my phone and saw the count. Total deaths, 64,625 in the world as of now from the novel coronavirus. The omnipresence of death everywhere! Behind each number, there was a life, a story, dreams, and wisdom. Now all gone. The fleeting thoughts and lasting realities of their final hour remained unknown. A big wave from the ocean of death is sweeping the world. All together we are caught in a sudden strangeness.
Washed in refreshing greens, the morning arrived. I greeted the morning with smiles and eyes full of gratitude. And then without wasting much of my time, I dressed up and rushed out of my room to relish every bit of the morning glory. I saw tendrils of mist were streaming over the Great Smoky Mountains afar under a cobalt sky. The moment aroused a whole orchestra of emotions in me. So I decided to spend some time contemplating with a cup of coffee at McKinley Edwards Inn in Bryson City, my refuge at the time.
My wintry wandering this year took me to a city, not primarily of painters, poets or prophets but of businesses, industries, and traders. I tried to feel the pulse of the city and ended up with happy vibes brimming with the beauty of a different kind. History draped houses, canals, lakes, and a large port give this city a unique character that settles comfortably into one’s memory and steps forth like old pals at the mention of Hamburg, the Hanseatic harbor city.
The wonder of the wilderness and the respite of remoteness which we saw and felt at the Spirit Island in Maligne Lake literally made us less conscious of hunger and thirst. We simply forgot to take our lunch that day. When it was afternoon and we were preparing to return, we realized we need to eat something. But to our astonishment, all the restaurants were closing. So without wasting any more time, we decided to drive to Fiddle River restaurant in Jasper. And you know what, it was our best decision. A beautiful day ended with a winner dinner!
I tried to organize all the higgledy-piggledy thoughts in my mind and found out most of the thoughts took a retreat from the mundane daily life and escaped to a world of a fairy tale. After all, December brings Santa, snowman, snow-draped roads, reindeer along with blessings from Jesus. Even an adult can choose to become that innocent child in the holiday season and escape into a different world; an uncomplicated, unambiguous and innocent world. I chose to escape to the mountains. I boarded a train from Montreaux to Château-d’Oex, in Switzerland. It is located half-way between the beautiful Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland and the small town of Gruyères in the canton of Fribourg. In fact, the international competition in hot-air ballooning is held every January in Château-d’Oex.
In this age, when our lives are changing fast and the overwhelming powers of technology are stirring every aspect of our living, I often think about the cardinal values in life. Will they remain the same or will they change with this fleeting age? Struggle for survival has been there from the beginning. Our past generations had struggled with a conviction for a few certainties in life. In today’s world, conviction and certainty and even identity are flickering in the dynamic realm of a fast-paced society. Hence, during my travels whenever I witnessed weddings, I felt a sigh of relief. It is indeed comforting to witness love and dreams still occupying a place in this world.
Around 11 am, my jet-lagged eyes saw the October morning brimming with autumnal lights for the first time in Berlin. Summer had trickled into autumn, unlike California, from where I boarded the flight two days back. I treated myself with a cup of coffee and sat down to peep into the city from my hotel window. It almost felt like a Facebook feed because of its continuously changing scenes. Then I decided to open the window a little and instantly the city came alive. The aroma from the Pizza shop, the sound of laughter and conversations, and the people made it real and intimate, unlike the virtual world. The open streets that I could see from above have an allure that’s hard to avoid. Therefore, without wasting much time, I quickly planned to see the ongoing Festival of Lights in Berlin, Germany and walk the history-filled roads of Berlin.
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