Magical Creatures and a Rash of Fires

We spent three days in Atlanta this past week, taking an easy vacation that mainly involved wandering through beautiful parks (for me and my husband) and playing on any available playground in said parks (for two-year-old).  Not that the playgrounds were fully appreciated–the boy is in a zone where he just imagines a firetruck, steering wheel, and a hose out of any structure. Sliding board with ladders? Fire truck. Jungle gym with random steering wheel? Fire truck. Booster seat in a restaurant? Fire truck. We hit one playground in Piedmont Park that had an actual play firetruck, and he drove it for over an hour.

“Driving” the firetruck mainly involves putting on all the imaginary equipment he requires, which he calls for like a doctor calling for a scalpel: “Helmet, please, Mommy! I need boots! Pants! Coat. Axe. Rope. Where my flashlight? Where my mask go?” Then he finds a stick to use as a hose and starts announcing, “I see a fire!” (insert sound of hose pouring water) “That fire go out. I see another fire!”

I would say we put out at least a hundred fires in Piedmont Park. Possibly three hundred fires on the drive from Atlanta back to Birmingham.

Anyway, we love Atlanta. It was perfect weather, sunny and breezy, and I do love a good playground myself. We also went through the phenomenal Atlanta Botanical Gardens, which has a temporary exhibit called Imaginary Worlds. They describe it as “a menagerie of magical creatures,” but “magical” doesn’t quite do it justice. These are gigantic, looming creatures–beautiful and intricate and mesmerizing–that are the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen done with plants.

Here’s a woman’s head (and water-pouring hand) by the Cascades Garden fountain.

Best reading spot in the gardens

Best reading spot in the gardens












Then there was the unicorn and the snake…

I don't think the golden horn is an actual plant.

I don’t think the golden horn is an actual plant.


It's the winding tail that makes this really spectacular.

It’s the winding tail that makes this really spectacular.

































It’s well worth a trip if you’re anywhere within a few hours to Atlanta. I’d love to go back with a computer and write there for a few hours. (Mostly this time we, well, put out fires.)  My husband loves studying the plants, but what I really want to do at any garden is wander around, find some hidden nook, and read a little, ideally with the sound of water in the background. The Cascades Fountain had a nearby ginger plant with a bloom that smelled as good as honeysuckle or magnolia, with a little sharper edge to it.

The sound of water, a giant woman’s head made entirely of plants, and sweet-smelling flowers. Doesn’t get better than that.

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