What I learned at Penn State

1) That I need a water lily pond like the Lotus Pool at the Penn State Arboretum.











2) That I also need a giant planter filled with succulents. (Would make an excellent birthday gift, though I do admit that it might not be the most practical, since it’s probably not very portable.)












3) That there are Japanese bananas. And that I have never thought about bananas being from Japan.

I forgot to get a picture of the banana plants, so this one is from bbc.co.uk.


4) That the Creamery makes excellent ice cream and has proportions about as large as your head.
It is also advisable to have yours in a bowl rather than a cone, unless you are able to eat large quantities of ice cream quickly and you are also sitting inside in the A/C so your ice cream meltage is kept to a minimum. Not being savvy in the ways of Creamery portion sizes, I had mine in a cone. Still not entirely sure how I managed to eat the entire thing and not explode nor get melted ice cream all over my person. I feel that my twenty-odd years of eating ice cream were just to prepare me for that moment, and that I preformed quite admirably.

I was too busy eating my enormous ice cream cone to remember to take a picture, so this one is from the PSU website http://creamery.psu.edu/ 


5) And that Meghan is an excellent friend for introducing me to all these new things.

She is a Penn State graduate and lives in State College, which explains why she knows all these things.
Meghan is a superb American Coot rescuer as well.

Kalmia Gardens

Yesterday I journeyed to a beautiful quiet part of Hartsville called Kalmia Gardens. I’d driven past it a few times on my way into town for supplies (conveniently, it’s just down the street from Bi-Lo, the local grocery store). After driving past the intricately wrought gates a few times, I knew I had to explore. The drive into the gardens is narrow and easy to miss, hidden behind dense foliage. As with many truly beautiful things, one needs to look deeper in order to see.
Kalmia Gardens are quite unlike Carolina Sandhills. Here we have pines, tall and open, the soil sandy and covered with a thick layer of browned needles. The gardens are another place entirely, reminding me strongly of the tropics. Thick layers all around, the sunlight filtered through dark green leaves, vines holding all the trees together, growing over and in and on top of everything.
There is also water here, streams, rivers, the soil is dark with water. With water comes lush life, bursts of colored flowers growing everywhere they can.
I’ve always liked marigolds, their scent and their sturdiness. Their yellow petals remind me of the ruffles on a dress of a little girl, running in the bright sun after dandelion fluff, in her hair a yellow bow that perfectly matches the ruffles on her dress and tiny socks. The brightness of her joy hides any grass stains on her knees and skirt, the dirt on her face disappearing as she grins and shrieks with happiness.
The gardens have a slightly disorderly feel to them, which I love. In a place like Kalmia Gardens, one can imagine the spirits of the plants, wood sprites and water nymphs, peering from behind the lilies or having a merry picnic on the banks of the pond, cavorting and singing with the robins. The wrens, nimble in the mountain laurel, let loose a tumble of liquid sound before diving away into the shadows, perhaps to find a meal for their young in the nest.
If you’re interested in the history of the gardens, there is the Kalmia gardens website: http://www.kalmiagardens.org
Happy Mother’s Day Mom!
Every flower I see reminds me of you and all of the wonderful ways you have made my life beautiful. Thank you for showing me the beauty in every living thing, and for teaching me how to properly dead-head. Without you, my marigold-self would be scraggly, with all sorts of ugly bits hanging here and there. Thanks for keeping me dead-headed and helping me to grown into myself.
I love you Mommy! You’re the best Mom I’ve ever had 🙂