I visited The National Arboretum yesterday because I was looking for something cheap, preferably free, to do between working in the temple in the morning and going to a cookout in Virginia in the evening (because Virginia is the other direction from the temple than my house, so going home in between seemed like a waste of an hour and a half and a quarter tank of gas).
So. Admission to the National Arboretum is free! So is admission to the National Zoo, but at the National Arboretum, parking is free, too! And it was QUITE beautiful. Among the rules listed in their little pamphlet were that wedding and commercial photography would only be allowed if you asked permission ahead of time, and that in some instances you would have to pay a fee. I could see their point. It was beautiful enough to warrant lots of wedding photography being done there, and clearly they aren't making a lot of money off of their visitors in other ways.
I wandered through for only a short time (I didn't have as much down time as I had anticipated), thinking about how this place would be the perfect date place for my parents. One of the delights of my life is to be in a car with both of my parents and have them identify some roadside flora, planted there by humans or not, and have them identify both its common name and its Latin name. "Oh, there's some something-or-other-flower!" one will say; and the other will say, "Yeah, something-or-other-i-cum; we used to sell a lot of those in the shop around Mother's Day," and then the conversation will be over and my life will be that much richer. An herb garden, bonsai exhibit, and native-fern planting-- just for starters-- seem PERFECT for them.
As I wandered through the clearly European-inspired (perhaps Tuscan-inspired, but I hesitate to pin down influences which I'm just not sure about) anyway, the inspired (and it was!) herb garden, I noticed a sign by the pathway of the variety which, often, warns visitors to keep off the grass, or in a horticultural garden may inform them of the name of a nearby specimen; in this case it announced a "free cell phone tour." It gave a number which would, indeed, use up minutes to call, but which would give one a free-other-than-that audio tour of the garden.
And, being the low-picture blogger that I am, I don't have pictures. I haven't even posted the ones yet that I took of the really cute turtles that came out one morning by the lake, nor have I taken the ones I wanted to of the log-over-the-stream-which-again-reminds-me-of-a-fantasy-novel-because-I-grew-up-in-a-desert-and-that-much-green-still-seems-fantastic-to-me. I have, however, uploaded a picture that one of my weathercolour nieces uploaded for me as my avatar. She called it "Victorian Lady," and it looks--mm-- at least a little bit like me. My hair is brown, at least. And I am certainly rather Victorian. Isn't it beautiful? (You can see the full-sized version at her blog, www.e.m.agination.blogspot.com)