Teach, Teaching, Taught

I like to share things about plants, gardens and landscape. Things that can enliven and inspire.

But this set of photos is only about sharing perception in what I think of as teaching.

Every day I have mountains in my face. These photos how some of them. In particular, these photos tell a story that is quite visually apparent in early spring.

Here are the stories or rather the lessons learned:

  1. Spring comes earlier at lower elevations than higher elevations.
  2. Higher elevations have conifer only forests. Lower elevations have deciduous only forests. The two forest types merge in the middle elevations.
  3. And the last image is a close up of the glorious electric lime green at this stage of spring growth.
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Notice the green grasses in the lower elevations. Compare it to the brown yellow grasses at the higher elevations.

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Darker green forest trees are conifers. Spring green forests are deciduous.

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Electric lime green spring foliage on a mixture of deciduous trees.

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Chocolate Gardens

This is about Moroccan gardens and landscape.

Earlier today, I prepared to record the revised draft of one of my novels to perform a sentence by sentence prose edit. To my surprise, as I set up a folder for the audio, I found an old .aif file entitled Chocolate Gardens. On that 30 minute file I heard myself reading what appeared to be a post publication recall of events.

Well, since my stroke I am finding quite a few things I had completely forgotten. That’s kinda fun. Maybe sad, but still fun. We all have imperfect memories, but as a stroke victim, I seem to have now a greater worrisome sense about forgetfulness. Oh well, time continues. No harm done.

The Chocolate Gardens tells the story of a Tangier, Morocco garden, as recorded by Christopher two decades ago. In order to visit the garden he was required by the garden’s owners, a Brit and a Ruskie, to undergo a special ordeal of chocolate and absinthe before walking at sunset in the garden. Christopher first had to visit the land of the green fairies before he could enter their Oval Garden. This is that story.

Readers…by now you know that my blog, flahertylandscape, is all about plants and people–landscape journeys. Sounds fair and safe enough; but what I am about to share with you goes beyond strange.

Anyone who has worked in a garden–suffered blisters and callouses in a garden for fruit, vegetables, flowers, medicine–knows there is something more in those gardens. This is for you.

Gardens? Chocolate? Yes, definitely…but I never thought to combine them until the email I received quite recently from an almost forgotten friend. Donkeys’ years ago when I was in Tangier, we worked together on the Baie de Tanger–it was a tourist destination development project.

Now, my friend’s still in Tangier, but as an antique dealer, using as an income cover, a store of second hand furniture.

I have attached a link to a 30 min. SoundCloud file that tells the rest of the story. I hope you like it.

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…for millennia…Tangier has been a nexus of Mediterranean, African and European cultures…a classic melting pot that is still on the boil.

This is in part a freshly edited re-post of  a 2015 post I made, entitled Chocolate, Gardens and Magic, which if I might say so, was well illustrated with Art Nouveau graphics.

Is that flower wild?

Or is it just having fun?

I had the joy of observing these two patches of flowers yesterday.

One is wild in the woods and the other is wild in the garden. Judging books by their covers, are we?

But someone has written that having a book in your pocket is like having a garden in your pocket. Then where do the wild flowers belong?

But anywhere you find them, they are a discovery pleasure of spring.

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Wild in the garden

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Wild in the woods

May in Paris

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…but for me it was April in Paris until…

I had to write this. Stroke is more common than many realize. This may be helpful to those for the first time encountering stroke affected close friends and loved ones.

Just about a year ago, I was visiting a nice park in Paris. It was a quiet Sunday morning. Roses and irises were in full bloom. The day was clear. The sun, getting higher, was bright and warm. There were plenty of public benches in the park. All the benches were empty. I looked for one in the shade with a good view over the gardens.

I sat down and immediately felt very tired. I then felt strangely obliged to do what my normal public bench common sense would never allow—lean over and lie down, using my day pack as a pillow. Everything went dark. After some unknown amount of time, I heard voices; but I couldn’t see anything. Still all dark—like my eyes were shut tight. I couldn’t open them. That’s how I remember it. But I could hear more and more voices, the voices of families that I figured had started visiting the park.

Well, that was the stroke onset. Making a long uncomfortable story shorter, I was then three weeks in an emergency ward of a Parisian hospital. Lots of strange stuff. But here is the quick and dirty. Couldn’t write, couldn’t walk, couldn’t swallow. Feeding tube in the nose, IV in hand, arm, everywhere, you know the ‘find the vein’ hospital drill. Nurses firmly reminding me ‘ne bougez pas’, like I had a choice. Fortunately, I knew French. That brain skill remained. I could not move in the bed. No toilet. No cleaning. The nurses did everything for me. I had time and capacity to think.

‘Was this my peak recovery? Is this the rest of my life? Will I ever leave the hospital? Will I ever see my family? Will I ever walk again? Will I ever be able to feed myself? Will I ever be able to clean myself?’ That was some depressing sh*t.

So one year later, after  a lot of will power, therapy and the gracious help of family, therapists, nurses and staff, I am walking in my own neighborhood with my family. I am writing, eating and cleaning myself in what I tell myself is d*mn near a normal life. Every case is different, I am told; but this post is about hope and continually taking one small step at a time.

On a walk this week, I took these three Spring photos to depict the hope and glory and reality of the human condition.

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Will every flower that’s happy please stretch out your petals toward the sun?

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Who can’t feel the beautiful richness of the season?

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The remnants of this tree, as it becomes repurposed by other natural elements, remind me of the struggles of every human, having gone through three score and ten. No one gets out without giving up some, without losing some. But in the end, even in the remnants can be found a certain beauty.