A Day Out--Tower Hill Botanic Gardens

Last week my husband and I took a day off from real life and went to Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, Massachusetts. It is 171 acres of gardens, paths, woods, and benches. There is plenty to fill a few hours on a sunny afternoon in mid-June. We had perfect weather, it was dry and comfortable without ever being too warm. This is vital in ensuring that I do not get grumpy about being outside. Humidity and I do not get along.

The gardens have a gorgeous view over Wachusett Reservoir. I could have happily sat and looked at this view for ages but it was our first stop during our walk through the gardens so we didn't linger long.

The gardens had a fair number of people visiting but were by no means crowded. It was mainly an older crowd--our kids kindly told us that we must have fit right in--and many of them stayed close to the visitor's center with the cafe. Once we had walked just a small distance away it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

It was a very nice day. The gardens are a bit smaller than we had originally thought and they did not have a ton of walking trails but they were pretty and peaceful and we enjoyed the respite from everyday life. My husband and I are trying to make sure that we buy out the time to spend together. Sometimes we concentrate so much on making sure we spend enough time together as a family that we neglect to do things as a couple. This day was an attempt to redress the balance. Obviously, we live wild and crazy lives since visiting a garden is what we chose to do when we could do whatever we wanted.

It was a lovely day in a lovely setting. We should do things like this more often. I'm already planning our next excursion. I think it might involve a visit to a bookstore and some ice cream.

Why Did No One Tell Me?

Why did no one tell me that being an adult basically means being tired all the time and getting up every day to repeat the exact same work you did yesterday while dreaming of being able to go back to bed?

When I was a child I thought being an adult was a magical world of freedom, specifically no bedtime. Why did no one tell me I would grow up and be desperate to go to bed? Why am I now the person who goes to bed before my children?

Why, now that I have the freedom to stay up all night to finish my book (yes, I dream big) can I not keep my eyes open long enough to finish the chapter?

Naps are now something to be treasured instead of fought against.

I can live with the other disappointments of being a grown-up. I don't have a secret walled garden like Mary Lennox though I haven't given up hope. I don't live by the beach. I am not a famous author. And, sadly, I do not have a stable full of horses in my backyard.

But where is the energy I had when I was ten?

On the plus side of being an adult, there is no one to tell me not to spend my money on more books.

Now, if only I could stay awake long enough to finish them.

A Few Quotes From A Few Books

I read A Particular Place by Mary Hocking last week. I didn't like it as well as Good Daughters but she is an author I am glad I discovered. She puts little bits in that just sum up life so well. Here are two quotes I particularly liked.

Charles had frequently regretted the fact that nowadays it is almost impossible for two people to remain in the same room and be silent; that, in fact, to come upon a couple so engaged would be more convincing proof of intimacy than catching them in an embrace.

It is true, isn't it? If you can be silent with someone you can be friends with them. The constant need to find something to say is a sign of discomfort. I also agree with this next quote.

In Hester's opinion much misery--breakdown of marriage, disaffection of children, loss of friendship, to say nothing of many minor irritations and discomforts--could be avoided if people would only refrain from breaking their fast together. Some might rise from their beds light of spirit and kind of heart, but these were the few. The majority, of whom Hester was one, come leadenfoot to the table, the night still grit in the deep crevices and crannies of their personality.

Exactly. I love the phrase "the night still grit in the deep crevices and crannies of their personality." It is so perfect.

I also read The House in the Country by Jocelyn Playfair. It is set in England during WWII and is the story of the occupants of one house during a brief period of the war. It is introspective and quiet and exactly the type of book I like. Here are a couple of quotes I enjoyed.

...if people would only realise that it's absurd to marry anyone without knowing whether you could talk to them for hours on end without getting bored. And I mean talk, as opposed to just throwing a few remarks into a necking session!

This makes a nice contrast to the first quote. Both are really true. To be close to someone you have to enjoy talking to them but also to be able to be silent and comfortable. She also gave a description of a perfect marriage.

How can I talk about perfect marriages? But she did know. She knew that a perfect marriage meant all the fun in life was twice as amusing while it lasted, and when it was over the drive home was the best part of all. 

And finally, here is a lovely descriptive passage.

Cressida hurried into the woods at the end of the discomforting lawns.  It was better in there, the woods were unchanged and dim, and still it seemed to wrap one in an underwater atmosphere of green warmth, scattered with dusty stars of sunlight that had eaten through the thick, delicately patterned ceiling.  Deep in the woods there was a clearing, where the sky was a piece of bright colour, like a silken tent stretched across the gap in the trees. A tiny aeroplane, looking no bigger than a dragon-fly, dangled from a tail of fiercely white smoke tapered to a needle point at its lower end, blown at the other by some current of air too gentle to reach the earth, into curves and drifts like the light brushstrokes of an artist painting delicately upon blue silk. 

What have you been reading lately?

The Years Are Short

               The days are long but the years are short.

It sounds like one of those motivational Pinterest sayings, doesn't it? I feel like it should be written on a muted background with swirly flowers and butterflies all around it. But the thing is, sometimes those slightly annoying sayings have a bit of truth to them. 

I have been thinking about this quote because my son graduates from high school in a few weeks and he turns eighteen in the fall. 

I went up in the attic yesterday. My son's childhood is in that attic. 

There is the crib he slept in--and apparently used as a teething ring going by the tooth marks on the spindles. I still remember walking in to get him up from a nap when he was about 1 1/2 and finding him gleefully sitting on his ride-on toy. Inside his crib. He had somehow managed to figure out how to get it off the floor and into his crib without ever getting out of his crib. He was so proud of himself. 

The attic holds boxes and boxes of Matchbox cars.  Plus, there is the rug with roads and buildings marked on it that spent years in his room. He and his dad spent hours on the floor playing cars. 

I have two bins of baby clothes and handmade blankets I can't bear to get rid of. The outfits my kids came home from the hospital in, their favorite blankets. How long do you hold on to these things?

His favorite stuffed toys are up there. Ernie, from Sesame Street, was especially beloved. He would chew on Ernie's nose whenever he was worried.

Thomas the Tank Engine is there too with all of his track and so many other engines. I got remarkably good at building tracks quickly that incorporated all the vital pieces. Of course, then he would pull them all apart and want me to start again, and again, and again. Eventually, he was building tracks for his sister to play with and she was pulling them apart over and over. 

The attic is littered with children's books. Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Monster at the End of This Book. 

Sometimes the days with him were long. There were the nights we put him back to bed five million times before he finally stayed. There were the days when it felt like the questions would never end. There were the days (years?) when all he did was argue. 

But it feels like just yesterday that we played with those cars, read those stories, cuddled with him under those blankets. 

Now he is graduating and almost eighteen and I know that one day I will look back at this stage in his life just as nostalgically. For now, I save those toy cars, stack those children's books, and refold the blankets. 

Because the days were long but the years are short.