When the writing is going badly…and sometimes when it is going well…I pack up notebooks and pens and printed drafts and head to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It’s a bit of a drive from my house and so I always feel like I should spend hours and hours there once I arrive. This is not hard to do.
I usually begin with a walk around 3‑mile drive. Then I go to the car and get my things and find a quiet place. I work awhile. Then I wander the gardens…maybe stop in the library…then work again. At some point I have lunch and another proper walk, and maybe a visit to the gift store before I settle down and try to accomplish one more little bit. Certainly there’s another walk before I head home.
It never fails me, the arboretum. It is always worth the trip. Year round I get “unstuck” there—by getting out of my own way, usually. Today I figured out a little plot hiccup and discovered a wonderful bit of research that focuses things nicely. I think it’s the combination of walking and working. This morning, a family of geese slowed me down—the little ones climbing out of the pond, the parents hissing at me until they’d all been gathered. I had to stand and wait. Then walk at a distance behind them for awhile. In the process, the plot hiccup worked its way out.
I spent a lot of time (A LOT of time) at the Arboretum when my kids were little. We have many memories scattered through the gardens there. Picnic places under favorite trees, in treasured places, on certain benches. Books we read entirely in the gardens, picking up and walking to another spot of beauty whenever we needed to get wiggles out between chapters. We packed sandwiches and snacks and lemonade and hot chocolate (depending on the season), and always, always books in our backpacks. (I do the same now.) We have loved the summer art exhibits mixed in and around the flowers and herbs, research plots, and gathering spots. This year, there’s an origami theme. I can’t wait to take my big kids, when their schedules release us to summer. It looks like they’ve freshened the maze garden—the shrubberies look right proper. (I’ve got a maze garden in the WIP. This was my excuse for going to the arb this morning—RESEARCH.)
I am grateful for the beauty cultivated and tended in this place—staff and volunteers work constantly to keep things so lovely. I’m grateful for the paths inviting me to walk and walk and the benches inviting me to sit and rest and read. I’m grateful for the seasons and all of their glory. The peonies are just beginning to open—the roses, too. It’s going to be a gorgeous summer.