Sunday, July 5, 2020

Walk in the garden

     You cannot say, "Let there be light," and there will be light. 
     Oh, you can flip on the lights. But that's not quite the same.
     Maybe a better example: You cannot create the heavens and the earth. Nor can you turn Lot's wife into a pillar of salt.
    In fact, I can only think of one activity enjoyed by God in the Bible that you can also do yourself: stroll in a garden.
    "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day," is how Genesis 3:8 puts it.
     Though I bet God didn't have to reserve a time, the way we do now that the Chicago Botanic Garden has re-opened into the COVID-19 era. You have to snag an hour slot—I've never been turned away, but it takes a bit of fussing on the computer and drains a little of the spontaneity away. You don't just go, but instead watch the clock and arrive during your appointed hour. They check the ticket on your phone going in.
     Still, it hasn't kept my wife from visiting the Botanic Garden four times in the past week. Quite a lot, really. We must need it, must need to admire the glorious flowers at our feet and the gorgeous vistas stretching in all directins. The rolling 385-acre garden is a welcome relief after being cooped up at home, a chance to soak in beauty, stretch our legs, converse with each other. You're outside, so while people do tend to wear masks, at least while passing  on the paths, for most of the visit you can let yours dangle from an ear.
     The Botanic Garden is a place you can go again and again and it never gets dull.  It is divided into a variety of realms: The rose garden. The English walled garden. The Japanese garden. The prairie. And so on.

    "We've never been to this part before," I'll say, something as a running joke, something as an acknowledgement that it changes so much it seems like a new place. Different times of day, of year, qualities of light, blooms. If you look to your right it's a completely different experience than if you look left. 
     Yes, it's high standards have suffered from the pandemic. A little sign apologized for the weeds that haven't been picked by the volunteers who can't come. Though in truth, I hadn't noticed them before, and it made me think that perhaps my practice of confessing my flaws before they can be pointed out is unwise, alerting readers to deficiencies they'd overlook otherwise. Still, for an hour afterward, my wife and I would point out various prickly intruders and say, "Look, a weed!"
     Which in my case is hypocrisy itself, since I have a ton of weeds at home, in my own garden. Now that I think of it, God also plants a garden in the Bible—"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden" (Genesis 2:8). But that achievement is closer to the other divine tasks of molding universes, destroying cities, and other superhuman efforts that are off-limits to we mortals, who suffer should we even attempt them.
     At least I do. I have a garden at home, but cannot walk in it, not for long. I can kneel in it, and do, pulling the weeds and grasses that grow with enormous profusion. But that is more obligation than pleasure, though if we don't get decent tomatoes this year, I swear I'm going to turn it into a rectangle of green-dyed concrete, my own version of an angry God smiting those who deceive him, and call it good.



  1. One of our favorite places to go when we visit Chicago. It’s going be to quite a while before we return. The politicians in Florida are still in denial which means we’d have to quarantine for two weeks after we arrive in your wonderful city. Not feasible.
    Chicagoans should be proud of how well they’ve flattened the curve.

  2. Such a beautiful oasis, which has probably grown (excuse the pun) even more lovely over time. Do they still have indoor art shows there? My first wife was a painter, and her image of day lilies won an award at the Botanic Garden in the Eighties. She got the shades of orange exactly right.

    We used to travel there from Evanston quite often, in all four seasons. I think I've already posted about finding a diamond in the snow, near a fountain, before we were married. I was sure it was just a piece of ice. Or glass. Then I had it appraised. It was quite large and valuable, and probably from an earring.

    The stone became part of an engagement ring, which I presented on Valentine's Day. At the Berghoff. I've always been a romantic. Some might even call it mushy.

    1. Grizz - and the old Berghoff is gone. The daughter opened something or another but we haven't been there since the original closed.

    2. I was last there in 2014, I think. My present wife, who's not a Chicago native, is German and loves it. It was still pretty good, but not quite the same. The old German waiters were long gone.

      According to Wikipedia,the Berghoff closed in 2006, then reopened after firing all of the long-time waiters and replacing them with non-union staff. Apparently, a daughter did run the place for a while, but sold it to a brother a few years ago. The Berghoff Company now operates the full-service restaurant, public bar, and cafe. And they also brew their own beer, too.

    3. You've convinced me to try it again. As soon as the virus leaves if ever. It may be a couple of years at the rate we're going.
      I believe the daughter first opened a lunch cafeteria style something in the basement and tried to expand to the main dining room. Good to hear it may have improved.

  3. If your wife is talking and you complete her sentence for her does she finish saying the whole sentence for you anyways? I find that annoying.


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