On Tuesday, on the way home from my weekly trip to the Naples Botanical Garden, I happened upon the memory of “going to the filling station.” At some point in my earlier years we used this phrase to indicate that we needed to get our auto gassed up – we needed to buy some petro.
I know what triggered that memory. I had just gotten my emotional tank filled at the Botanical Garden. With daylight savings time (meaningless phrase) the garden is very different at 8:00 in the morning. I headed to the lotus pond to catch the gentle morning sun as it works its way across the pond, illuminating the lily heads, gently closed for the night. As the sunlight moves through the eastern trees, the gentle light quickly moves over and around the lily pads. Usually I work quickly because I want to catch that magic image and also when the sun clears the trees it brings a harshness that washes out the color. On this morning I took a few photos and then sat down on one of the benches.
I sat and watched the sun illuminate the top of the trees towards the west, and listened to the birds. The air was still cool and the garden was unusually quiet of human traffic. I took some deep breaths and felt my soul smile. In this small corner of the world all was well and I was taking it in. For this brief time in the garden I shut out all my worries about the well being of our democracy, threats of policy changes that will hurt our most vulnerable citizens, and the multiple threats to life, health and safety around the world – including increasing risk of nuclear war.
I walked the boardwalk to the other side of the pond, knowing that I didn’t have much sun time to get to another body of water where lotus bloom, but I didn’t/couldn’t hurry. I wanted to stroll. I stopped to photograph a new blossom/seed pod I have never seen before…
and was drawn down a path I never noticed before. It felt like a jungle path; I expected to hear monkeys screeching at me from the tree tops. I knew where it went but couldn’t see how it got there. I stopped to listen to a woodpecker and a mourning dove. I felt the timeless peace of the plants that surrounded me.
I made it to the lotus pond and took a couple of photos, found a couple of other fun plants that I may or may not share at a later time, and was drawn to the crushed shell path between the designed gardens and the natural preserve areas. I found myself standing and looking over Lake Tupke (named after the Seminole herbalist Alice Micco Snow whose nickname was Tupke). A woman walked toward me and we smiled toward each other – she asked me what I was looking at. I chuckled and said I was trying to figure out how to photograph the personality of the lake. She looked in the direction I was looking, smiled and walked on.
I continued my fill-up as I strolled around the familiar walks of the garden. I was more interested in being than in photographing although my camera with my beloved 50mm dedicated lens did some work, probably more work than my heart that slowed down to keep pace with my slow pace. I sat on benches when I felt I was moving too fast – and gazed. I had nowhere else I needed to be and nothing better I needed to do.
I wasn’t comatose – just free of hassle. I still thought about what I was experiencing, integrated new observation into my brain’s store of knowledge, and had new thoughts about how I create images with my camera. I was free to experience life as I was living it – not life in the past nor what life may bring next week.
And of course I was free to experience my usual ending to my time in the garden – by filling up my tummy with a scone (took half home to JB) and a cold glass of ginger limeade as I gazed over the place in the garden where I began my morning’s journey. Now that’s a full-circle fill-up.