Friday, March 23, 2007

Quest for the Garden

In epic quests, the hero can never go straight to his destination, or get directions right there. He always has to go to the one end of the earth first to get directions clear round to the other side of the earth to get the magic sword, and at last he finds out what he wanted and can go next door and rescue the princess.

Last week DOB had to work on Saturday, so he took today off in exchange. We had grand plans to go to a special nature park for children, Glenwood Gardens, all morning. Thunderstorms were forecast for noon, but we thought if we arrived when it opened at ten we could get in a couple of good hours before storms arose and we sought shelter for lunch and headed home for naps.

Only we overslept a little, of course, and then it does take awhile to get everyone dressed and fed and DOB's exercises done and just as we were heading out the door D2 had the Dreaded Diaper of Doom and we had to stop and change him entirely. (That, at least, made the delay worthwhile.)

It was after ten when we finally left. The directions were so very simple we didn't need to take a map. Everything was going fine--we saw a sign pointing to Glenwood Gardens--we turned down the road on which the park was located. And then, nothing. No sign of a park, or anything that might remotely resemble the possibility of a park.

DOB does not insist on forty years of wilderness wandering; he will stop to ask for directions. So we stopped and I went in to a drug store and asked if anyone knew the way to Glenwood Gardens. The lady behind the counter did not. The lady in front of the counter did not. People who live near an attraction never know where it is; the people walking the streets of central London have never seen the Tower of London. They probably haven't seen London Bridge.

An elderly man nearby thought he did know where Glenwood Gardens were, although initially he was under the impression I was looking for a housing development. When he understood it was a park, he gave me some directions in which, for some reason, I had less than complete confidence.

Sure enough, we followed the directions and spotted a small and shabby playground tucked in the middle of a block. Not the intended destination. We meandered around until we found a touristy old square which looked like it might have people accustomed to answering questions. Unfortunately, things weren't open, so I asked the mailman parked and sorting his mail. He didn't know where Glenwood Gardens was, but he did know the way to Winton Woods, another park in the same system.

Hoping to get some directions or a park map there, we followed his directions, which did prove to be right. Unfortunately the rangers were all still vacationing in Tahiti. There were no maps. County parks are dull places on Fridays in March. I did, however, find a mom playing with her daughter on the playground, who was able to give me directions to a nearby petting farm that was also part of the park system.

It was better than nothing, I figured, and it was already nearly eleven. The sky continued to look threatening and it seemed advisable to do something, anything, to justify the hour spent driving around. So I persuaded DOB to drive there next. I then took the ducklings through to look at the animals while DOB, unwilling to abandon our original plans, set off in search of some human being who might know the way.

We looked at the various animals--we didn't try petting--and then we took a few spins on the slides. D2's interest in a park is directly proportional to the speed and danger of its slides. DOB caught up to us and announced that he had at last found the magical being who could give him directions to Glenwood Gardens. Despite the lateness of the hour, we decided to give it a whirl.

We followed the directions carefully, and in less than ten minutes found ourselves right back at the original intersection. We should have gone straight instead of turning; the gardens were right there. And they were lovely, even so early in the spring. The forecast thundershowers turned into peekaboo sunshine. We had our lunch; the lady at the gift shop gave us free entrance to the children's garden and we watched the train and the fish and climbed in the tree.

Now we know the way. The family pass is a quarter the cost of a pass to the zoo or the children's museum, and it looks like it will be even more fun when things begin to grow.

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