Mike is down with the flu today. After being up all night with it, that is.
I wanted to give him some peace and quiet, so decided to get MJ out of the house early. She didn’t have school today, so we opted to head for the Arboretum, a spot we’ve visited before, but not yet this spring. (Yes, in Los Angeles it is indeed springtime. February’s almost summer for us, really. Time for bikini shopping!) The Arboretum opens at nine, thus giving people like me–whose kids wake up at 6:15AM–a place to go to stretch their legs when everyone else is still stretching awake in bed.
One of the big highlights of the place is the peacocks, but today we didn’t see too many. (Our best sighting, in fact, was in the parking lot when we first arrived. With all the cars pulling in, I was incredibly grateful the thing was still alive. Peacock roadkill is not something I’m prepared to explain to Myra-Jean.) After that it was mostly geese–who bite, so you can’t get close–and a great deal of drying feces.
All of which was more than mitigated, of course, by the greenery. We walked the whole park this time, and were treated to a verdant display of foliage, succulents, cacti, and exotic trees. We strolled slowly, pointing at what we liked, scanning for birds, and dabbling in light conversation. I guess all conversation with a three-year-old is light. Although you’d be surprised…
Anyway. Whenever we thought to, we’d stop, fall still, and listen to the susurrus of long stems in wind, the far-off call of geese, the tenor of nesting doves. Then, after a moment of such aural attention, we’d resume walking.
Finally we got hungry and made our way to the rose garden–at this time of year denuded of blossoms, but still a decent place to sit. There we snacked on pear chunks and sliced white carrots while feeding cashews to a few lucky scrub jays. As delightful as the latter activity was, the nuts in question were salty; worried we might kill our feathered friends–or at least give them a stroke– I eventually cut them off.
After two hours we felt nearly ready to go. There was just one more stop to make–a favorite of MJ’s: the bamboo grove. There we left the road and pushed through the smooth, pole-like trunks, moving our limbs slowly through the dappled light and kicking at wormy roots underfoot. Grimacing, I scratched at the names carved roughly into some of the trunks. People are such assholes, I thought. Must everything be about them?
But MJ didn’t notice. She was tramping her way through the dried carpet of leaves, pushing green stalks behind her like ski poles. Everything in her visage screamed contentment. If such a thing can, in fact, be screamed.
“I love this place,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“I know,” I said. I reached over and pulled a dried leaf from her hair. “And I love you.”
After a few moments we returned to the path. MJ ran to her stroller, kneeled on the seat, then torqued her body around to a sitting position. “I’m ready to go home,” she declared.
So, eating cashews all the way, we did just that.