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  • Pamela S

A Garden of Another Name

Updated: May 27, 2022

"What'chu looking at, Willis?

I noticed my membership to Quail Gardens was soon to expire, so a sunny Sunday afternoon presented itself and I took my camera and set out. It was a lovely burn-in-the-sun, cold-in-the-shade San Diego day, making one alternate wearing a sweater either fully on or tied around one's waist.

The garden was a bit past the height of bloom being late April. I am always in awe of the multitude of different plants and flowers along the path. I often find myself breaking the rules by stepping off the path to get just the right lens angle. But I did resist the temptation to peel bark off the paper bark tree to take home. I could peel that tree all day long if I wasn't at risk of being arrested. Alas, the only thing I took was pictures.

There was one almost-mishap with stepping off the path when I almost squashed a very trusting lizard. He blended in so well, I did not see him on the rock. I forgot what I was going to photograph, and focused on him instead. He let me get my lens within inches of his face, and gave me the queerest look before running off into the bushes. I was amused to see I caught his look on camera.

I had a nice interaction with a relocated British family, after volunteering to take a few photos of their sweet-sixteen tea party in the grass. I also chatted with an old man taking photos with a 30-year-old Canon AE-1, the same camera that I have tucked away somewhere from my teen years. We agreed that the camera sure does take nice photos. I can't imagine being limited anymore by the cost of film and developing, as well as the number of pictures on the roll. I took a couple hundred pictures at the garden, unlike the old days where clicking was gold, and bracketing was too expensive to do. And not being able to see your picture instantly? Polaroid had that concept figured out early on. There was a time I swore I would never go fully digital, but that time is far past.

As I was leaving the gardens, I passed through my favorite desert section, harkening back to my Tucson upbringing. I was admiring the barrel cacti in bloom, and the various prickly pear, and the ocotillo metal sculpture. A young mom was saying to her toddler, "See honey? Remember these plants with the prickers? They are called cactus. Don't touch them!"  Poor kid. A San Diego native. She'll never know a single name past cactus. And a lot of them together will be called cactuses.

So until next time, Quail Gardens. Just like I eventually accepted digital photography as the norm, I will most likely someday accept that fact that my favorite garden changed its name four years ago. I don't see the acceptance happening anytime soon, but when I renew my membership, I will probably have to write my check to the San Diego Botanic Garden. Heavy sigh.

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