Tuesday, October 2

Morris Arboretum: opening the senses

I had the luxury of a mid-week day off last week. I suppose I could have cleaned the house or finished some grading, but instead I decided to spend the day with my mother exploring a place neither of us had ever visited before. (the heart opens... how seldom do I spend time with my extended family anymore?)
 Morris Arboretum is on the far Northwestern edges of Philadelphia, a long drive out Germantown Avenue and past Chestnut Hill. The arboretum is run by the University of Pennsylvania, and it lies along the Wissahickon upstream from Fairmount Park. Near the visitor center is a fairly new treehouse installation. It extends the hilltop level out into the trees so suddenly you have the perspective of a bird or squirrel. A rope net invites children to climb like a squirrel, and two megaphones on pulleys can be brought to ear level to hear the sounds of the forest like an animal. (The body and the ears open.... to experience the environment in a totally new perspective.)
 We strolled along the paved paths, and I marvel at how many plant names my mother knows. We delighted in flowers still blooming at the end of September, bees and butterflies gathering the last bits of pollen and nectar. We stopped to stroke and smell fresh herbs- mint and rosemary. (The nose opens... appreciating the differences between plant varieties and how different forest air is from city air)
 A lawn opens up, sloping down hill. An arrangement of large steel sculptures stand at the top. Its negative spaces frame new views. (the eyes open... seeing different perspectives, noting contrasting colors and surfaces)
 Along an oak-lined lane the path becomes criss-crossed with painted lines radiating from one of the trees. An artist has illustrated how expansive the hidden parts of the tree are underground. The roots reach out far, far beyond the trunk and even farther than the canopy. (the mind opens.... what else is hidden from view?)
We ended up in the fernery greenhouse, almost passed by. It's an escape into a primordial tropical rainforest. The air was warm and moist, the sound of water dripping and trickling, and everywhere incredibly GREEN.
I love living in the city, but I think it dulls the senses. I need to get out into nature to enliven them again.

No comments:

Post a Comment