Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Garden Kaleidoscope

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Trying to catch up on the last days of my road trip, it has been kind of hectic so bear with me! Here is the account of my final day in Madison, Wisconsin.

One of my favorite features thus far throughout Madison are all of the amazing gardens. From ALlen Centenntial Garden, to the Abrotetum, and now finally the Olbrich Botancial Gardens, all have been spectacular displays of nature within the confines of a major city.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens was like a playground for nature lovers. From amazing fountains, art exhibits hidden in the trees, and my personal favorite, a kaleidoscope of succulents. IMG_9791

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My view of all the different gardens around the city had begun to feel like a kaleidoscope mash-up of everything I had seen thus far. I had luckily caught a period of time right before the major frost where flowers were still blooming and beautiful but leaves had begun to change colors already. I was getting the best of both worlds and I knew it. So I reveled in the amazing gardens and was shocked by the array of colors and textures I found everywhere I went.

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There was even a Thai pavilion in the gardens that was ornate and beautiful with the backdrop of flowers surrounding it.

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Everything was beautiful and so much fun to explore with my Aunt, we really had a great time.

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There is one thing I forgot to mention thus far and it is the frequency with which Madison has free libraries in front of their homes. It always makes me very happy to see free book boxes in neighborhoods but Madison had an astounding abundance of ornate and well stocked free libraries. A neighborhood feels healthy and lively whenever there are free book boxes lining the streets. I really enjoyed this one which was a vibrant orange and had a beautiful mosaic of a tree on the side. Well done Madison, well done.

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I went off on my own again with a more serious mission in mind this time: visit the University of Wisconsin- Madison campus and check out the English Graduate Program. I spent the rest of my day slowly meandering around campus (with an additional stop inside of a wonderful liitle bookstore on State street) and visiting the English Department.

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The campus was really and truly very nice, I was genuinely impressed. The buildings were beautiful, the people were kind and generous with their information, the scenery was amazing (right on the lake and covered in colorful trees), and the available opportunities to talk to students and faculty was very abundant. I quite enjoyed it.

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I even found an acorn friend that sadly rolled away from me and got crushed by a car. It was slightly heartbreaking. Can you tell I haven’t been terribly sociable? I have started befriending acorns.

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But honestly, it made me miss Berkeley. There were so many things that kept reminding me of my alma mater and it left me with a heavy heart burdened by homesickness. There was even a tower that looked like the campanile (complete with carillons) and several of my favorite professors from Berkeley were going to be visiting campus to give lectures in the coming weeks. I missed my friends, my mentors, and the feeling of belonging to a community regardless of whether the people around you knew you or not. Despite actually really liking this campus, I left full of sadness because I wasn’t sure if anywhere else would ever feel like home in the way that Berkeley was. I know this is naive in many ways; I know I will go somewhere and I will learn to call it home, but Berkeley will always have my heart.

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It was a hard day, the first of probably many to come in the next few months, but not something that would stop me from moving forward. Some days are worse than others, but every day on the road is a step farther from home that I am proud to be taking even on the days when I wish for nothing more than to be back where I was. I am learning to miss the things I love and I hope each day to miss these things with happiness rather than sadness, but sadly that day has not yet come. Despite my sadness, I know nothing is gained without losing something first. Growth can be painful and I would be foolish to wish that pain away, so for now I grit my teeth and try to push forward to days when it hurts less.

But I know it is worth it.

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A Rainy Day in Madison

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

I woke up to the sound of rain against the window. It was the first time in a long time I had heard rain calling me outside. I lay in my bed listening and for the first time it became real. I knew I was very far from home; I knew that I was no longer in California and would not be returning for quite some time. In many ways this whole trip has been so surreal. A strange mixture between road trip and living in a bunch of different states. I bounce from one location to the next, usually with someone I know waiting at the end of my drive so it never feels like I am truly alone. But this morning I woke up and felt alone. I felt far from my friends, family, and all that was familiar to me. I felt it ringing in the rain drops like a vibrating siren and each drop sang out the sound of total strangeness. It was an odd moment, of finally letting it sink in that I wasn’t going home, at least not for a while. I had to make a home wherever I could find it now.

For now home is with my Aunt in Madison but even that is not for long. I pulled my tired body from bed and looked outside at the cardinal on the bird feeder below, unfazed by the rain and even more vibrant in it. The roads ran like rivers and the fall leaves had been glued to my car like some child’s scrapbook of autumn.

On our way to explore Madison we first stopped to get some really great coffee and Colectivo. A roomy coffee shop with huge windows, bright furniture, and great study spaces, Colectivo was definitely instantly on my favorite coffee spot list.

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I took my coffee out into the cold rain to warm my fingers as we explored the state capital building. It was truly a magnificent piece of architecture and I loved escaping from the rain under their marbled ceilings and fancy decor.
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It was quite the place and the square that it sat in was surrounded by adorable shops and fantastic restaurants.

After we had circled the captial building a few times, marveling at the architecture from every angle, we drove through the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Going through campuses that are closer to the east coast always impress me because they are so thoroughly different from west coast campuses. The buildings are older, crafted from beautiful stone or brick and much more ornate than the average west coast campus building. I love my alma mater but I cannot help comparing the architecture between campuses and I was thoroughly impressed with the Madison campus.

At the far end of campus we stopped at the Allen Centennial Gardens, a small enclosure of nature next to an old historic home. The gardens, though small, were marvelous. Even in the rain, the vibrant crops like kale, colorful swiss chard, and of course corn, were incredibly beautiful.

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There were some really unique looking flowers, like the ones below, that lit up the entire park with vivid colors. IMG_9697

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From boardwalks to koi ponds, gazebos to vegetable gardens the entire garden was surprisingly entertaining. After marveling at the entire complex we continued on our way.

We decided to poke in at the Henry Villa Zoo. It was a fun little zoo but the alligator was by far my favorite. I had been taking pictures of the fall leaf littered pool, not realizing it was an alligator enclosure until afterwards when I looked at my pictures. It surprised me so much that I hadn’t even noticed the alligator lying quietly below the leaves.

There were also some adorable little badgers having a fun time digging around in the mud, which was pretty quintessential for all of Wisconsin. Go Badgers :)

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After the zoo, my aunt and I parted ways for a bit and I went off on my own to the University’s Arboretum for a hike. It was pretty, but also pretty marshy so my hike kept getting cut short by closed pathways. But what I did see was quite nice; the variety of different trail landscapes that I set foot on in just the few short miles I was able to hike was staggering. It was a wonderfully diverse park filled with prairies, lakes, and flowers.

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We finished out day with a sunset mini walk along some overgrown boardwalks next to Lake Monona. Stepping over a natural bubbling spring, we walked along the creaking old wooden planks along the rim of the lake watching the sky turn pink under wispy clouds. IMG_9754 IMG_9755

It was a good first day in Madison (finished with some really great pizza) but I am finding myself growing more and more tired as each day passes. Michigan is only one day away of driving from where I am now and I can feel the closeness in my road wearied bones. I have been traveling now for exactly two weeks and I have been alone for one week; it feels like a lifetime.

A good rest is in order soon and I know it awaits me on the shores of Lake Superior, so close yet so far from where I am now. For now, there is still more work to be done, more things to see, and always another adventure around the corner.

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Awake and Walk

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

My third day in Berlin I was flying solo the whole day and decided to just walk my heart out. So from early in the morning I awoke and set out on foot to walk Berlin, guided by some great recommendations from Maiya.

I began by walking from Kreuzberg where I was staying and wandering back to where I had the tour the previous day in Mitte. I passed many people commuting to work, sitting on park benches drinking at 9am, kids playing in parks, and lots of people of bikes. Everyone seemed to be in some great state of motion, going somewhere, talking with someone, and always moving.IMG_1985 IMG_1986

I went by Check Point Charlie again as I passed from old West to old East.IMG_1989

I even found a fun chocolate store that had massively impressive sculptures made entirely from chocolate including the Brandenburg Gate and several other famous Berlin monuments.IMG_1992

Also one of my favorite things about Berlin is the little street crossing sign guy called Ampelmännchen. They are the traditional and somewhat quirky street crossing signs that always make me smile every time I would see them.

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And what is Germany without a man selling pretzels from his bike?IMG_2015

I revisited Museum Island with hopes to go into the Pergamon Museum but after some confusion and a lot of time lost waiting, I gave up on the idea and continued on with my walking.IMG_2019 IMG_2033 IMG_2037

The area with all the Museums on the island is pretty impressive and quite fun to walk around.IMG_2046 After museum island I headed over towards the TV tower in central Mitte ad then continued on to an old market area.

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From there I wandered up the fun street called Rosenthaler Platz which was lined with adorable parks and shops.

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I took a break in a quirky little coffee shop to dodge the rain and sat in the window for quite some time just enjoying the peaceful atmosphere despite an incident with a dropped cup and a resulting scream from the man who dropped it that was possibly the most German shout I have ever heard. I got another chai latte, keeping with my new found love of Chai Lattes that Berlin has made me addicted to alongside a homemade blueberry scone.IMG_2097 IMG_2100

From there I made a long U-Bahn and S-Bahn trip over to the East Side Gallery where the most famous stretch of the Berlin Wall is, covered in art from contributing painters. It was a little odd honestly. This wall, such an intense piece of history carries such weight, but a majority of the art seemed somewhat foolish and more than a little crude with tourists scribbling their names on every inch they can find. Even the beautiful symbolic artwork was covered over with this ugly scriblles of marked territory that screamed disrespect behind my eyes. It made me sad. There is so much room on these walls for political voicing, room to air out the past and discuss matters of oppression, but in many you cannot see that in what the wall has become.

There really is a lot of beautiful art though, these are a few panels that are my favorites.IMG_2115 IMG_2117 IMG_2129 IMG_2132

This panel was by far my favorite, the intricate detail and the vivid colors interwoven in the black and white. Faces stand out around images if you step back and look at the bigger images, but the small images hold their own beauty and magnificence. IMG_2148 IMG_2155

The way color and the human image are lost but also displayed in this impressive piece really caught the eye and made you look closer to see what there really was to see. IMG_2159 IMG_2181

These couple panels with political statements where also some of my favorites and the thumbs up chained into place was a good example of a piece that held up to its symbolic potential. IMG_2202 IMG_2205

I took a quick break from the wall to hang my feet over the Spree and admire the bridge near by and watch the yellow U-Bahn snake across its upper terrace crossing from one side of Berlin to another as if there had never been a wall at all. IMG_2211

The inscription on one of the last panels of the wall did make me really happy though, despite having been graffitied over mostly by tourists that read

I painted over the wall of shame so freedom is ashamed no more. Inferno ruled too many years until the people chose the light. I put my faith in you Berlin, and give to you my colors bright.

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After the wall I wandered into a nearby area that seems to be home of the alternative scene in Berlin. It was pretty interesting, I wandered past the wall, past the graffiti and along the U-Bahn tracks up into the new area I hadn’t seen before.IMG_2233IMG_2235

A gritty but intriguing place full of people with long colored hair gelled up into spikes, or any other sort of interesting look. I really enjoyed wandering through the rain up and down the streets taking in the local color, feeling the trendiness and alternative atmosphere of the area. IMG_2239

Then after my long day of walking I returned to meet Maiya and we decided to go to a rooftop bar above a huge shopping mall that had the most amazing view of the city and the setting sun. IMG_2250IMG_2259

Over the rooftops of Berlin, we sat in the little garden with benches looking out across Berlin. It was a pretty magical place despite the cold. IMG_2261IMG_2272IMG_2281

The flowers in the garden were really amazing to watch the colors of the setting sun play off of as the light slowly diminished.IMG_2285IMG_2288

Drinks in hand we watched the sun go down in a fantastic array of color. IMG_2297IMG_2300IMG_2308

It was such a fun place to explore and definitely one of my favorite things that I did in Berlin.IMG_2340IMG_2346

 

The way the fast moving clouds blurred over the lights of the city as Berlin became the center of night life that it is so well known for made for some beautiful photos. IMG_2347

The moon was out, shining bright and full above the garden and we left sadly because we never wanted to leave it had been such a magical place at such a magical time of day. It is things like this that make me so unbelievably thankful for being able to have this opportunity to sit on rooftops above Berlin, drinking beer with friends, and watching a city transition between day and night, one life to the next.

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I travel to see cities come alive in a way that photographs or postcards cannot quite capture. There is such a beauty in the cities of the world, each is endlessly different and I cannot wait to see more.

 

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The Broken Gate

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

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In the Shadow of the Bell Tower

Monday, January 25th, 2010


The fence gate
Guards the bell towers
Where the pigeons wait
Let the bells ring
Let the bells toll
It is time
Let it go
Let it go
For so long
You stood on
The wrong side
Of the white picket fence
Cross over
It is time now
To leave behind
What you were
To become
Who you really are
Shut the gate behind you
It won’t on it’s own
Seal it tight
Don’t let the demons in
Here is a place of safety
Welcome
To the garden
Where we are alone now
But never alone
Under the shadow
Of the bell that tolls
Waiting for the sign
From no one
To take up our arms
And walk away
To cross the threshold
To become something new
Come take my hand
Walk with me
We can cross it together
And leave the gate
Swinging shut behind us
Don’t be afraid
I have done this before
All you have to do
Is open your heart
And sigh out your miseries
Then fill your heart back up
with the worlds gentle beauty
It is there
I promise
It is just hard to see
Just don’t get lost along the way
In the shadow of the bell that tolls
It can shallow you hole
You wont come back the same
To got o hell and back
To look down upon
You very own grave
Come back with me
I will guide you
Back to the gate
That stands guard
Over the bell tower
That watches us
From the garden
Don’t be afraid
This is life
This is who we are
This is who we have become
Eclipsed by the shadows
Of the bell tower

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Mystery of the Blue Buddha

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

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There is a blue buddha in our garden… and I don’t know how it got there.

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