Monday, October 5, 2009


Boom, boom, boom!

Have you ever been encountered with a sudden truth? An answer to a question you didn't even realize you were asking? It doesn't have to be anything monumental or life changing (though of course every bit of magic on this earth IS monumental and life changing), but rather an explanation to a life long obsession or fascination?

I love greenhouses. Big ones, small ones, messy ones. Ones meant for butterflies and ones meant for spiders (like at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville), ones meant for tomatoes and ones meant for flowers. I love the earthy, sweaty smell and the promise of good things growing. I love the people who work in them, they always seem so content with their lot. I love the municipal ones like Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati and our tiny one here in Anchorage. We happen to have TWO commercial ones right here in Eagle River, and they're both so sweet I could spend all day tucked away in one of their green corners. I dream in greenhouse.

When we first moved to Alaska Xander and I visited the small visitor's greenhouse in Anchorage. Behind the public area lie in wait all of the fragrant and vibrant plants that would decorate the famous hanging baskets that blanket the town in the summer. It's a dangerously calm place, and I say "dangerous" because the moment we stepped in I wanted to lie down on the floor beside the koi pond. After just a few minutes I was hit with a moment of deep happiness, and honestly? The greenhouse isn't much to write home about compared to even the commercial ones or others I've seen across the lower 48. It doesn't take much to impress me in a greenhouse. Just a glass roof, some plants, a cement floor...What struck me as so lovely about that partcilar moment in that particular greenhouse was the pleasant juxtaposition of the vibrant colors, tropical palms, chirping cockateils with the heavy blanket of about four feet of snow outside. I had to take off my coat; I started craving ice water. It was humid. I was in Heaven.

Just this morning, at home with ailments of the female persuasion instead of at work, I was struck while day dreaming with a distinct memory/explanation of my love of greenhouses. A memory hit me with fragrance and warmth. I am seven. My family and I are at the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC. Upon entering the estate, I remember being struck with wonder at the immense indoor "Winter Garden". I don't have many words to describe it that I feel would do it justice, so here is an image:

That picture doesn't do it much justice, either. I can say that it was calm, it was big, it was a place to wrap yourself in nature when weather or health didn't permit. I also probably melded my memory of the Winter Garden with my memory of the Estate's Garden Conservatory, down hill from the mansion itself, pictured here:

Palm trees burst upward
orchids are picked like daisies
hothouse for the rich

This is where the obsession started. One day I'll have my own little greenhouse, where I'll sit and smell good things growing. I'll lie on my back and look up at a paneled sky, tucked away from the snow in a little greenhouse oasis.

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