They were so much more than I imagined they would be. Bigger. More imposing. Majestic. Awesome.
Day three of our desert road trip, we decided to “take it easy” with a short jaunt to the Yucca Valley and up hill to Pioneertown, which is at a higher elevation and promised to deliver slightly cooler temperatures.
I did not like the drive up into the mountains and so it was difficult at first to appreciate the views. What goes up must come down and I spent much of the drive nervously anticipating a horrible drop-off around each bend. Fortunately, that did not happen and the scariest part of the ride was when I yelled at Davin to do a u-turn so we could hit up a big yard sale that I spotted too late.
There’s something about perusing a yard sale with massive Joshua trees (Yucaa brevifolia) and dry, desert mountains-capes as the backdrop.
It was a fall evening some years ago, just before the golden hour (my favourite time of the day). My friend Laura was headed out to Humber Nurseries to take some photos in their private garden and offered to take me along. Not one to forgo a chance to get out of the city or into private gardens, I went along and took with me my digital and one film camera.
Winter 2013. It’s not really a hardship compared to the thirtysomething odd winters of my lifetime past. No, my problems with this winter are entirely mental. And it’s not depression. I simply want out. I am full of energy and ready to start but winter laughs at my impatience. “You will wait until I am good and ready. Sucker.”
Today I am a caged animal. I’m howling and shaking the bars and smashing my feeble and pale, vitamin D deficient body at this winter prison. Friends of ours are headed to Cuba next week, and even though I once proclaimed that I would, “…sooner poke my eyeballs out of my head than stroll the beaches of the resort nightmare that is Varadero,” I still begged them to take me. And I would go. I would travel inside a large box and I would dance and stumble and shake across those beaches cackling like a madwoman.
Let’s look at some pictures I took on trips to Guama and Santiago de Cuba in winters past and pretend that we are there. Let’s imagine that there is a warm breeze that smells like jasmine and burning cane fields with a touch of plastic. We can feel the vitamin D surging through our skin as it comes back to life. And we are laughing and dancing; losing and then finding our minds in the sunshine.
I’m still engaged in the long process of catching up on developing and scanning a backlog of film dating back a few years. There are lots of plant and garden related images within this pile that I had forgotten about. It is bringing up old thoughts, ideas, memories.
For instance, looking at this image taken in NYC last August has me thinking about unusual gardens. I found this one attached to an auto body/detailing shop on the Bowery. I had to stop and capture it for my memory.
Gardens like this are some of my favourite. They are a surprise. They are little gems that lie tucked within the overlooked nooks and crannies of the city. Blink and you will miss them. They are not beautiful in the traditional sense. They are dismissed. They are not celebrated within the glossy pages of horticultural magazines. There are no unusual/rare/designer plants here. The pots are ugly/handmade/crude; they were not purchased in contemporary shops. They are messy. They are dirty. They are not special.
They are brilliant. They are magic. They make the city come alive.