Friday night found me shivering in the cold outside at Franklin Park Conservatory. I was there with friends to look at the pretty Christmas lights.
It’s called Conservatory Aglow and features thousands of lights throughout the property. You enter through the wonderful rainbow tunnel above.
Then you can meander through lights, through a giant model railroad and even step inside a gingerbread house.
This tree is made with hand blown glass balls.
There is one area inside that’s nicely decorated too. I really wish they did more inside but this was all lovely.
You can warm up by walking through a gingerbread competition and enjoy the rest of the Conservatory which is filled with interesting plants and Dale Chihuly glass art.
It was freezing cold and there were snow flurries in the air, making it even more festive. It was a great night to be out with friends! This spot was my favorite both because it’s pretty and because they play classical music here. It’s like an oasis where you just might meet the man in the moon.
Want to see more pictures? Check out the Make The Journey Fun Facebook page! Plus, it’s not too late to visit this year! Click here to visit the Conservatory online.
My grandma always kept African Violets. She had a brilliant green thumb and her kitchen windowsill was always lined with these pretty little plants.
The leaves are velvety and the flowers are tiny and delicate in shades of pink, white, blue and purple. They are sweet little flowers and always make me think of her.
So when I found a collection of African Violets for sale at Franklin Park Conservatory Saturday, I googled them to learn that they aren’t toxic to cats. It took just a second to decide that it might be fun to take one home.
When I asked the cashier for advice on how to keep it alive, it was kind of a joke. Sadly, I’m pretty sure the poor little thing heard me and probably died a little inside right there on the counter. Plants probably don’t get humor.
She was probably wondering what incompetent monster was kidnapping her. Why would her caregivers allow this maniac to leave with her?
They told me to let the soil dry out, to water from the bottom and to keep it in a container that seems a little too small as being slightly root bound encourages bloom.
What we didn’t talk about was how to keep it healthy on the way home when the temperature was nearly 8o degrees.
First I blasted the AC while driving. Then I abandoned the poor little thing in the hot car while I shopped. Then AC, then the greenhouse effect. This process was repeated a few times.
It was looking pekid by the time we made it home. I gave her some water in a saucer and said nice things. Maybe some kind, welcoming words will do her some good.
Some studies say that talking to plants will encourage them to grow faster – something about sound and vibrations. It’s not about the words so much as the sounds. It seems worth a shot.
If you need me, I’ll be speaking gently to my new friend and trying to reassure her that I won’t kill her. You know, lying to my plant.
Most of the spring flowers at Franklin Park are spent but there remain a few patches here and there. I scurried across the way to get a closer look at this cluster.
It looks nice enough from a distance. The colors remain vibrant and the flowers stand up straight.
But look a little closer. Most are starting to wilt and look a little rough around the edges. They will be gone in a matter of days.
It’s a natural process, the fading of spring bulbs. The petals will drop and the leaves will brown before dying back. These bulbs will lie dormant beneath the ground for the next three seasons before they begin to push through the earth into the sunshine where they will bloom, starting the process again.
Their lifecycle is ruled by the seasons. It’s an elegant, complex process that we take for granted.
I walked away a little disappointed but thinking about how much these flowers have in common with the average human.
The average person looks fine from a distance. They appear to move through their day, doing what they need to do and to be ok. It’s when you take a closer look and get to know them better that you notice the cracks in the veneer, the flaws.
Stick around very long and you’ll notice that almost every person has insecurities, quirks, anxieties and annoying habits they have developed through the seasons of their life.
We all are changed by what happens around us and by what happens to us. Sometimes we are made stronger, smarter, more resilient. Sometimes we are irreversibly damaged or broken.
These flaws are often harmless but can be destructive both internally and to other people around. We become tired, impatient, scared and vulnerable. We lash out, shut down or simply walk away.
While humans experience seasons of life the same as those spring flowers, we don’t have the luxury of receding into the ground to rest and recharge. We can recede into the darkness – both the literal of our homes and the figurative of our minds. Tragically, we tend to judge or worry when we see someone doing that.
If only we were more forgiving of ourselves and others as we cycle through difficult seasons or find ourselves stuck in a place that is unhealthy. I hate to say it but the flaws are often what make us interesting. Many have hard earned emotional scars, remnants of trauma that have helped shape us into who we are. As I grow older, I’m more conscious of my own and am more likely to own them now than ten years ago. I am proud of my resilience and that I have chosen this path.
If you are struggling for some reason, give yourself some grace. Don’t deny yourself something you want or a future you deserve because of your weaknesses. Weather this season, no matter how long it may be, allow your mind to rest, and trust that you’ll have the opportunity to grow again if you want to try.
Let’s face it. Life would be easier if we were flowers.
Lest you think that my Adventure Days are always gloriously rewarding and fun, let me tell you about yesterday.
It was a bust.
We’ve had a dark cloud hanging over Ohio for a lot of this week and the weather continued to be gloomy and cool yesterday. I was tempted to stay home but had a commitment to keep in Columbus. I am part of a social impact study at Franklin Park Conservatory and needed to visit that place one more time before the end of May. Since my weekends are all booked this month, yesterday was really my only chance to go.
So I spent some time Friday night plotting indoor/outdoor activities in the Columbus area. I did not make concrete plans beyond that visit to Franklin Park but had a list of ideas. This is how I roll. I’m not the girl with the clipboard and stopwatch. I more or less wait till that day, see which way the wind is blowing and go with the flow.
Franklin Park was busy but great, as always. I spent most of my visit here with the butterflies. This is a transitional time as the spring flowers are almost spent and the gardeners are busy preparing for a new season. All the same, it was good and I had some lovely experiences with the butterflies.
From there, I wanted to hit up North Market for some good lunch and casual people watching.
This did not happen because there were masses of people everywhere. I didn’t get out of the car. Heck, I barely slowed down because my introverted self literally could not deal.
So I switched gears and headed for German Village to hit the bookstore and find something to eat. Unfortunately, it was even worse there. Haha. Isn’t that my luck?
If you haven’t been, German Village is a quaint community, a remnant of the city’s German heritage with some cute shops and restaurants mingled with homes and offices. The streets are narrow, parking is sparse and people lose their minds in search of literally anywhere to ditch their car on the way to brunch.
Friends, I watched a guy in an SUV attempt to shoehorn his car into a space not large enough for my Elantra. When that didn’t work, he used that parking space to turn in the street, holding up two lanes of traffic and nearly hitting someone’s truck.
I just shook my head.
The real draw here is an independent bookseller called the Book Loft which bills itself as having over 30 rooms of books. Mind you, they are very small rooms but it is a neat place and their website claimed they had a book in stock that I wanted to buy.
Nonetheless, I abandoned ship and headed for the nearest Half Price Books. They have abundant parking but tragically did not have my book. At this point I was determined to salvage something of this day so I headed to a nearby Barnes and Noble where I blessedly found the book. That book came with a bag full of other books that I wasn’t there to purchase but we won’t dwell on that small failure today.
I did find some peace here and even a laugh when I saw the title of this book.
Things Are Never So Bad That They Can’t Get Worse.
Mind you, it’s a serious topic but man, if this isn’t a great title for my autobiography I don’t know what is.
At this point the sky was foreboding so I started making my way southeast to Logan for a stroll through downtown. They were hosting Urban Air 2022, a camping event where Airstream campers take up residence for the weekend. It was chilly out and a little late so there weren’t many people out to chat with about their campers. I did make friends with the owner of a new vintage shop on Main Street so that was fun. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you about that store this week.
Honestly though, the highlight of my day (besides that sack of books) was a stroll through a graveyard at a country church near Lancaster. It was cool and the wind threatened to pull the hat right off my head but the sky was interesting. There are some very old graves to look at and it was peaceful.
Everywhere else I went yesterday was just way too peopley. This place was calm and quiet. It was intriguing and sad. It inspired my imagination as I wondered about the people buried there and what happened to those they left behind.
I eventually bought a frozen dinner and some new windshield wiper blades and headed home to my little cat. And yes, he was quite glad to see me.
So, yeah. That was my day.
In the last four years, nearly every adventure day has held something memorable. There’s been some spark of magic, some bit of delight that made it all worthwhile.
I was due for a flop.
This lengthy and somewhat bitter tirade isn’t meant as a simple vent for yours truly. I tell you all of this to tell you something useful.
Adventure days come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, I am a huge advocate of making your own adventure. For you, it could be a quiet stroll through the woods or finding a bargain at an antique store. It could be screaming through the woods in a zip line or trekking foreign lands most of us will only read about in books.
Adventure is what you make of it.
My best days are the ones where I come around a bend to find an aging barn, where I hear a new birdsong in the woods or the ones where I encounter someone willing to share their story with a stranger. My very best days are the ones where I become so preoccupied with discoveries that I forget all about my list.
Every day can’t be the very best day. However, we have the ability to make the best of every day. In fact, we have a responsibility to make the best of our circumstances and to enjoy the life we have today. After all, you never know when things will change and maybe even get worse.
In my case, I found peace in books and in a country churchyard. I found even greater peace ending the adventure and simply coming home to my little cat and to read in my chair.
It turned out to be a pretty good evening despite it all.
Notice this butterfly below and how it is perched on the flower in a sideways fashion.
Was that part of the plan? Wasn’t it? Who knows but it seems pretty happy anyway. Don’t let the rain or other people or things beyond your control steal your joy.
Be well and be happy, friends. We will adventure another day!
Midweek days off are rare in my world. I took yesterday so that my mother and I could visit the butterflies and flowers up at Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus.
It wasn’t the best weather for this visit as the butterflies aren’t as active on cool and cloudy days. It actually snowed part of the time, making me ask more than once if it was really spring. Mother Nature seems a bit confused. All the same, we saw several varieties and enjoyed our visit with these flighty beauties.
You just have to slow down and pay attention because some aren’t easy to spot amongst the foliage. One guy was fortunate to have one land on his shoulder. My mother really wanted one to land on her but we weren’t so lucky this time.
It also wasn’t the best day for viewing the spring flowers outdoors. It was cool, overcast and windy when I ventured outside and tried to force some decent pictures.
All of the images here come from my iPhone because I didn’t take time to sift through the pictures on my digital slr. It has been having issues but I’m still cautiously optimistic that there are some good shots.
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this tiptoe through the tulips (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) and walk amongst the butterflies.
The spring flowers run through April and the butterflies through May. Go visit if you can!