This morning, knowing it would be warm outside, I decided to take MJ to the lush, shady gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the SRF is a spiritual organization whose world headquarters are at the top of Mt. Washington. I know nothing about their practices, but I do like the spot. It’s beautiful, well-tended, and open to the public. Moreover, I was looking forward to seeing it in its everyday state. We’ve only ever been there once — for their big Easter egg hunt, and on that day it was absolutely teeming with over-stimulated children, frazzled parents, and an extremely earnest Easter Bunny. OK, she didn’t teem. She was very serene. But the overall effect was the same.
On the subject of egg hunts: I have decided that they are, in general, a farce and a travesty. Oh, don’t worry. I’ll still take my daughter. I’m not going to stop her from attending just because I find these events stressful, disorienting, and fundamentally depressing. But let me say, for the record, that it is disturbing to watch a bunch of children descend on a verdant, open, prettily egg-strewn field and — like little two-legged locusts in sun hats — decimate it in seconds. Before having kids I imagined these hunts to be adorable, bucolic, leisurely affairs. Hah! Little did I know that they are over in thirty seconds, during which time your kid turns into someone you are ashamed to know. It goes one of two ways: either they become a ravenous, egg-hoarding glutton, who yells “mine!” while heartlessly shoving younger competitors aside, or they are a hapless wanderer, a dreamer, an egg-close-inspector, who ends up in tears because their basket is empty. Either way, one despairs. Until, that is, one’s husband tells one to “get over it” and one gets in the car to go home, tired, dehydrated, and sunburned. And thinking “me get over it? You get over it.”
But I digress.
Today the SRF was pristine, empty, and spectacularly eggless. The only persons there were its beaming, robe-clad residents, a couple of gardeners, and us. I’d like to say it was quiet, but as one of the gardeners was busy wielding a leaf blower like a Galahad with his Excalibur — protecting defenseless maidens everywhere from dried flora — I am unable to truthfully make such an assertion. It is amazing to me that no one has yet gone postal on a person with a leafblower. I will probably be the first. Only kidding. This is not an online advance confession, OK? Jeez. I would never do that here. That is totally a Facebook thing.
Anyway, in preparation for our sojourn to the garden, MJ had packed a whole basket of “creatures,” her red blanket, and two books. We soon found a shaded spot near a waterfall and settled onto a bench, there to get cozy and enjoy the tranquility. MJ carefully stood each of her creatures up on her blanket, settled onto my lap, and we read.
It was lovely, especially once the gardener (and his accursed din) had gone. It really is a good spot. I wouldn’t say we left there self-realized, but we certainly did feel relaxed. I even smiled at the leaf-blower on the way out. Maybe I deserve a robe.