Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Post 44 

Happy 4th. This blog has a local emphasis but since all goodness is not concentrated in the Wissahickon Valley, some posts, like their author, may wander. In this case to Maine.

From where I have just returned from a vacation that featured two great, very different types of gardens: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens , and Monhegan Island.

I do not know how, but in just 5 years  the first of these has managed to create a large, excellent public garden.

And perhaps best of all its its recently added children's garden, which is a delight.
And even includes a library with a storyteller, where, if you look up into the gable, you see--
 In short, so worth a visit.

Monhegan, of course, is not a garden in the traditional sense. It is rather a small island of bleak but often breathtaking beauty. And just as it is set off from our ordinary world by the sea, much of it has been set off even farther, as an undevelopable preserve.
So there is a small village with a big, old-fashioned inn (the spire on the left)
around a harbour
of fishermen, artists, nature-lovers, workers and summer people. Then there is a large reserve of wild spaces
 Criss-crossed by trails
Through woods with fairy houses,
 And blooming meadows,
To blooming seasides,
And onward to the highest cliffs on the Eastern Seaboard,
And then back,
To the village,
To the Inn,
To sit out on its front lawn with a drink, 

 Before dinner and nightfall.

Monhegan has all the magic of island light--light reflected up from the sea, down from the sky, and so diffused all around.

So while it is an ordinary island in an ordinary world, 
It is also sometimes a hint at that extra something that is often found in works of art, in great gardens, in spiritual and peak experiences,

--an island of light in an extraordinary world.


Since this is the United States of America's Bday, and the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, it seems fitting to celebrate one particular immigrant who has made this post possible.

This is Mito from Bulgaria. He is a waiter at the Inn in summer, and works at a dude ranch in winter. When he first came to America he worked in New York but hated it, and so explored till he found a more peaceful place. He likes to hike around the island and during one hike, found a beat-up, point and shoot, digital camera on the trail. He picked it up and instead of keeping it or selling it, he brought it back to the Inn. There, he showed it to other staff to see if anyone recognized the man with a pack who showed up in some of the pictures. Which is how my lost camera made it back to my husband, and then me. 

Honest, adventurous, cooperative and energetic, eager to believe in, and exemplify what is best in our country, Mito reminds us to live up to the dreams our immigrant forefathers and mothers had for us. Whenever they came here, however they came here, I hope we can make them proud of what we have made of the country they have given us.

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