Nothing can be more restorative to the soul than seeing green. Green as in the color of Architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s beautiful Highland Botanical Park in the Flower City of Rochester, NY.
Mutti and I park the car near the reservoir. Our self-guided tour begins behind the arboretum on a faint trail winding up and down brushy, woody areas of sweet-smelling spruce, hemlock and pine.
Our senses come alive by a carpet of fat droppings from a Japanese Big Leaf Magnolia. I squat down to pocket a few favorite book presses. Little Renee basks in the freedom to run in the afternoon sunshine. This is the antidote Mutti needs to mend a wayward spirit.
You see, on Veteran’s Day, Mutti bid farewell to her husband, Francis “Buzzy” Bond, one of the bravest men to ever serve. The combat hero endured decades of pain and anxiety with optimism and courage. Rarely did he end a Facebook entry without a resolute “And, don’t forget to smile!”
His accolades were enormous. It took 20 different baseball caps to help display all the medals, ribbons and pins he amassed jumping for the 101st and 82nd. He survived Vietnam with a bullet lodged in his brain and shrapnel throughout his torso.
I could go on but this post is not an obit. Yet, not far from the hospital, where all of Buzzy’s burdens disappeared, Highland Park’s immortal Redwoods help to console and calm. Bending branches of certain species don small plaques etched with the names of others that have passed.
In the Lamberton Conservatory, we meditate in temperature-controlled rooms of tropical and desert wonders. White, football-size mums, beds of blooming barrel cactus and webs of Spanish moss all help to heal the heart. Quirky storytelling about the habitats of plodding turtles and one lonely duck make us smile.
Back outside, after a loop around dormant azaleas and rhododendron shrubs, we run out of time to explore the Poets Garden. I suspect another round of park-hopping to buoy our spirits real soon.