Our English guest expressed an interest in the Chicago Botanic Garden, and I was happy to take her there until I remembered I am supposed to stay off this foot. (Darn. Do I have to tell you? The surface of our driveway is not level and my shoe caught in one of the cracks and stayed there as I continued to walk. I caught my balance nicely, proudly, but after two days of pain I reluctantly visited the orthopedic doctor who confirmed there was a broken bone in there and prescribed wearing that rigid shoe and “stay off the foot” until it heals in six weeks. I rejected the cane.)
We went anyway and to protect the foot, we opted for a ride in the open-sided tram which does a delightful tour of the gardens. We caught the 3:15 ride which didn’t leave until one of the fellow passengers cell-phoned the office to alert them that we had been sitting, waiting, for 20 minutes. We felt the chill of the afternoon as we sat trapped in our seats, the wind funneling between the trees at us. I unzipped my jacket and wrapped it across me so I had two layers protecting my front - ah, the pleasure of large clothes.
The phone call quickly brought a woman who scurried into the driver’s seat and apologized. A child had stepped off a moving tram. She was hurt but not seriously injured. So all the tram drivers rallied round. “And her mother was right there with her, sitting right there next to her,” she said barely containing her outrage. (I knew what she meant. Christine and I later saw a child maybe 2 or 3 years old, toddling alone, and we hesitated, looking around until the mother who was engaged in chatting, noticed the child was not at her side and hurried to retrieve her.)
The ride was engaging. We glided slow motion as the driver told us exactly what we were looking at, every leaf, every tree, every flower. When we passed the tumbling waterfall she said every garden should have water. She asked for a show of hands, “Who has water in their garden?” Nobody, of course. She said, proudly, “I do. I took a bowl, filled it with water, and set it in my garden.” We tried to contain our snickering. Indeed, I have a bowl I try to keep filled for the birds and the squirrels. The water is always muddy - from the squirrels washing their feet in it, I’m sure. So I, too, have a water garden.
The tram completed its circle and deposited us to the same spot.
We slowly walked back, paying particular attention to the quadrant of the Heritage Garden that had been pointed out to us. It is devoted to plants from around the world. We were captivated by one shrub. The slim branches were lined with multiples of tiny units, each of two teeny balls, but I can’t think of anything in a cylinder shape that small to compare it to, and between the two tiny cylinders projected a teeny stiff thread. First we were caught by the miniaturization of the plants, and then we exploded in laughter. I don’t remember which country sent us this sensual planting. Christine took a picture. Maybe the sign is included.
We crossed the wide planked bridge on our return to the car. It is a wonderful bridge, side rails waist high, with overhead widespread rafters heavily covered with thick clusters of small pinkish chrysanthemums. Along came the bride in her stunning wedding gown, her groom beside her, followed by three groomsmen in their formal attire, and the inevitable photographer completing the group. The Botanic Garden has always had a bride being photographed every time I have visited, most popularly in the huge rose garden. We, along with everyone on the bridge paused to watch. (Where were the bridesmaids?) The photographer placed them along the side with the expanse of water behind them and started shooting.
I gritted my teeth. I said to Christine, “No matter where he stands, he has the bridge cable in the picture.” After a few pictures, he moved them ahead of us to the other side of the bridge. We walked on. I couldn’t stand it. I turned back, and said to him, “Watch out for the cables.” He explained, in a foreign accent, that he was using the water for a background. I pointed to the cable immediately behind the bride’s head. “See? The cable. Watch out for the cable. It looks like it’s coming out of her head.” He looked. He saw it. “The cable! Thank you, thank you.”
I said to Christine, “I had to do it.”
I haven’t lived among a bunch of photographers for nothing.