I love beginnings, like starting new quilts and arriving at the Naples Botanical Garden in the morning when the sun is low in the sky, the temperature is cool, and my energy is high. The entrance to the Garden is a boardwalk through an area planted with tropical plants from around the world, something like an introduction to a novel or a trailer for a movie.
There is a stream running down one side and a small pond with a sculpture from the current collection on the other and I sometimes stop to take a few photos.
I am eager to walk on, to chat a minute with the woman at the window, the one who swipes my membership card. I am thinking about the type of light I think I will have and how high the sun is. I am plotting my course to either a favorite spot or a special corner of the garden my soul needs to visit. Or maybe I’m thinking about visiting the orchid garden first, before it fills with visitors.
I always stay too long at the Garden. After I decide it is time to head home, I seem to be drawn into another wonderful photograph and then another. I take my leave of the garden well after my energy is used up, and so tired that even my weekly scone and ginger limeade at the cafe doesn’t do much to perk me up.
I feel satiated as I head for the exit, eager to return home. And then something special happens. The exit is a boardwalk parallel to the entrance, with the lush tropical plants and stream in between. Here I slow down, and pause. Here I find a few more surprises and have to get my camera and tripod out of my cart.
I think I hear a lesson being taught, maybe an echo from long-ago regions of my memory. This lesson has to do with leavings – making sure to do it gracefully and memorably. I wonder if impressions are made more in the leavings than the entrances.