Friday, September 24, 2010

Going Botanical

So, I've been a bit lost lately. Due to inspiration from a friend to get my nutritional life in order, my baking and chocolate-making has come to a true and abrupt end. I know, I know it's good for me and having lost 12 pounds and counting, I guess I can't argue with the reality. A woman can not live on brownies alone. Still, my poor soul was sad...and lost. First, no gardening and now no baking, no chocolate-making?  Really? Please say it ain't so...

But, I've held firm and, now, only on special occasions do I allow myself to indulge in a little kitchen magic. Instead, I have tried to embrace cooking as a substitute for baking. Frankly, it just doesn't do it for me.What's the difference?, you might ask, and to you I say there's a grand canyon size gap between the harsh chopping, dicing, sauteing, roasting and simmering of cooking and the beautiful ballet of sifting, folding, whipping, melting and rolling of baking. Sigh... And, just plain and simple, it doesn't satisfy my chocolate-loving, homemade-baked-good, garden-deprived soul.

And, thus, I found myself at loose ends. But what to do, what to do? Well, luckily for me our traveling circus just relocated from the land of tall cotton to the bright lights of the Charlotte area and what did I find upon my arrival? ....wait for it....A BOTANICAL GARDEN! Oh yes, people, a REAL, honest-to-goodness, drop-to-your-knees-and-thank-the-gardening-gods, enchanting, marvelous, magical, filled-with-butterflies-and flowering-plants, B.O.T.A.N.I.C.A.L G.A.R.D.E.N. Hold on, I need a moment....

And they let me in. Yep, no joke, they let me wander the gardens and sniff the flowers, and sit on the benches, trail my hand in the water, touch the sculptures and marvel at the orchids on the orchid wall. They have an ORCHID WALL for godsakes. In a glass conservatory. And, let me repeat, they let me in. Hold on, I'm having heart palpitations...

But this is not the best part. Oh no. After wandering for hours, and I do mean HOURS, and wondering how I could move 3 dogs, a motorhome and a husband onto the property without anyone noticing, a lightbulb came on. I could VOLUNTEER. If I volunteered, they would let me work in the garden, I'd get to get my hands in the dirt, I could...deadhead, or water something, or prune or maybe even plant something. All that garden-longing and envy that I've been tamping deep down inside me since we began this grand adventure welled right up and bubbled over. My feet were moving before I knew it. I found myself standing at the reception desk, staring wildly at the confused but oh-so-polite, genteel woman manning the desk and practically begging, alright full-on begging, to volunteer (And for those of you who know how shy I am, all I can say is it must have been delirium and low blood sugar that made me do it) And here's the best part...they said....YES! Oh yeah, they said yes and now, I, traveling gypsy and reformed chocolate-maker/baker of fattening goodies, am indulging my wildest gardening fantasies at the incredible Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens (insert angels singing here).

My first day of gardening bliss was yesterday and it was everything I hoped for and more. They handed me a pair of clippers and asked if I wouldn't mind trimming the privet hedge. Are you kidding me? You hand an obsessive gardener with a perfectionist bent a pair of clippers and point her towards an overgrown hedge and what you'll have when you come back is a hedge so perfectly shaped, so straight, that if you could pick it up, you could use it as a ruler! Let's simply say, I was in heaven...and I was told by the lead horticulturist, while the rest of the staff stood back and marveled, that their hedges haven't been so straight since they stopped using the hedge trimmer 3 years ago....umm, so I got a bit carried away. It's been awhile, ok?

And, just so you know this whole fairytale is fact and not something I made up out of the clarity of my nutritionally-satisfied but sugar-deprived brain, here are a few photos of the wonderland I get to wander through every Thursday, rain or shine.

Yep, and my soul is smiling a Cheshire cat grin.


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