Sunday Morning Stroll

I had lunch with a friend yesterday, and between mouthfuls of cheese enchiladas and fish tacos we theorized as to the cause of our recent weight gains.  We settled on two causal factors (neither of which, by the way, had anything to do with enchiladas or tacos):  “getting older” and “lack of exercise.”  I’m putting the “getting older” thing out of my mind because, well, what can you do about that ?  “Exercise” seems the more practical area of focus, even though, wow, do I hate it.  The one type of exercise that I’ve been able to tolerate in the past is walking.  In fact, I used to walk all the time, mainly because Daphne, my little Yorkshire Terrier, demanded regular walks and simply wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.  She and I must have walked hundreds of miles over 15 years, and now that she’s gone, the memories of those walks—Daphne always several feet ahead of me, straining hard against the leash and urging me to hurry up—are my little gems.  Olive, my year-old Maltese, likes walks, too, but her small legs make even the shortest distances seem like grueling tests of endurance.  Over time I’ve become a fallen-away walker, venturing down a path only on those rare occasions when the mood strikes me or when the scenery draws me to explore a place on foot.   Walks have become rarities.

Ergo the increase in my pants size.  Sigh.

So, I got an inspiration last night (at church, as it happens):  I would get up before dawn today and make the long drive to the Overland Park Arboretum in Overland Park, Kansas, for an early morning walk.  A storm thundered through the metro area last night, tamping down the temperatures, so I knew this morning would be relatively cool.   Also, I figured that if I could get there right when they opened at 8:00, there would be few people there, and I could walk the sprawling grounds at a quick, unimpeded clip.  Well, as it turned out, the temperature was pleasant, and the crowd was sparse, but I didn’t do the speed walk I had planned.  Instead, my walk was slow, slow, slow.  Everything was so spectacularly pretty, why rush through?  I had forgotten how fabulous the Arboretum is.

The cottage at Monet’s Garden at the Overland Park Arboretum, Overland Park, Kansas.

If you happen to visit Overland Park, the Arboretum (which is actually south of Overland Park off of 69 highway), is a must-see.  For three dollars you get to enter this amazing space that always seems like another world.  Nearly the moment you walk past admissions and through the gate you enter Monet’s Garden, which takes its inspiration from Claude Monet’s famed garden at Giverny in France.  New since I was here last is a sculpture of Claude Monet painting the scene.

A sculpture of Claude Monet painting his lovely garden.
The garden as seen by the artist…
Flowers from Monet’s garden. The garden features pinks, blues, and purples.

I ran into another amatuer photographer at the garden, and he asked me if I was finding any angles of interest.  I told him that what I was really looking for was interesting combinations of colors.  I like the blues right now.  I just purchased some blue glass beads on the cheap, and am trying to find ways to use them in my jewelry projects.   I thought I might get some ideas from nature!  I actually took a couple of blue pieces with me.  My plan was to do a little photo shoot in one of the gardens featuring a couple of my projects after I finished the “exercise” portion of my program.  It was just too fun taking pictures of the flowers, though, to complicate things with jewelry.  I took only one shot of a necklace (below).

Who takes jewelry to the Arboretum? I do! Here are some blue glass beads that are in my collection. The bright blue necklace is very old and has a sterling box clasp. I bought it at an antique store many years ago. The prism necklace is fresh from my little studio. I just made it yesterday!
Flowers found deeper into the park beyond Monet’s garden.
One of many water features in the park.
The Arboretum contains several sculptures, my favorite of which is this one. It’s Jazz 1 by Tom Corbin.  
One last flower pic. I took over 200 pictures this morning! There will probably be more featured in future posts.
A sign pointing toward the entry of the Woodland Garden and Forest at the Arboretum.

Most of my time this morning was spent in the floral gardens at the Arboretum.  But sometimes I think the best part of the park is the woodland garden.  It is so quiet and remote, it really is magical—and a little scary, too.  A few years ago I took my nieces and nephews to the Arboretum.  There were only four of them then, and they were small.  Joey, the youngest at that time, was only two.  We had a picnic lunch, then walked all through the gardens.  We capped off the visit with a walk through the woods.  It was an adventure, like traipsing into a dark, quiet fairyland.  In fact, I remember telling the kids a story about the fairies and elves that lived there in the woods we were passing through.  It was all lovely until we traveled deeper into the woods and the foliage became more dense.  Somewhere along the line we got lost, and what had seemed magical and pretty suddenly started to look, in my imagination, like a second crime scene where serial killers obscured the bodies of their victims.  I swear we walked for hours.  Joey, started crying, and I nearly did, too.  We ran smack into a snake along the path, which seemed like a horrible omen. Thankfully We ultimately ran into a young couple who knew the way out, and we followed them.   That was the last woodland walk for the kids and me.  I did take one other walk in that same woods a year earlier that was one of the great walks of my life.  That’s a story for another time…

Well, I’m sure I burned enough calories this morning to make up for the pint of peanut butter ice cream that is, at this moment, calling for me from my freezer.

Until next time…