There’s actually a book called ‘The Magic Garden’ by Gene Stratton-Porter (published in 1927) which I highly recommend, but this isn’t about that book.
Today Marcia and I took a trip out to Langford, en route to Royal Roads University. Neither of us had been there before. ‘Our’ son Nick is attending there, and by next year he will have Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communication. Proud? Well, maybe just a little.
We took a shortcut to get there, and if you’ve read our previous posts, you’ll have some idea of what that means. First we had to stop at Lee Valley Tools, simply because they have a store in Langford. If you know Lee Valley Tools you’ll understand what I mean here, and if you don’t, well, there may be hope for you yet. They’ve come a long way from having a counter at the back of a warehouse in Ottawa. Then we had to stop for lunch, at a little place called the Chocolat au Lait CafÃ©. It was the name that drew us in at first, but the fact that she had free sample truffles didn’t hurt either!
Of course by this time it was starting to get dark, and we figured we’d best be on our way. Traveling via pedestrian taxi, we hit the Galloping Goose Trail and headed west… for about 2 km, I think.
We arrived at Hatley Castle just as the sun was tucking itself in behind the mountains and the last stray bits of golden light were reflecting off the upper stones of the castle. After a short pause to collect our jaws from the ground, we continued on, feeling the pull deeper into the magic as we walked. Being a Saturday night the campus was quiet, with only a few students wandering from building to building. Other than the trees and the peafowl, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
We entered through the gate into the Italian Garden as the darkness continued to creep in around us. Shadows lay deep on the ground and we wandered slowly down the paths, stopping to talk to the trees here and there, sharing hugs with those that felt so inclined. There are some huge red cedars, and some wonderful douglas fir trees as well. In the Japanese Garden the sounds of running water were all around us; this contrasted beautifully with the utter stillness from the rest of the park. We were ‘alone’ with this beauty and the night.
There are really no words to describe the beauty of the park, so I’m not even going to try. I can see myself returning there, again and again, in all seasons… bringing cameras on some occasions, a notepad on others, and sometimes, just my playfulness.
We finally returned to the gate at the top of the garden, only to find it locked. Now, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened to us. The last time we were in another park in another city, and on the ‘wrong’ side of a fairly wide but not too deep creek. The gate was locked at the first bridge we came to, and we hurried off to the second. As we walked I was thinking about how we could climb around the barrier or whether or not I could carry Marcia across the water on my shoulders without both of us falling in. For her part she was silently planning my imminent demise – ‘short, effective and painful’ was how she worded it. Being a salmon stream she was wondering whether the body might be written off as the victim of a bear attack… Fortunately, we got to the bridge to discover that someone had left it unlatched for us.
Tonight, while I was wondering about climbing the fence or circling around out of the gardens by a more circuitous route, she simply picked up the phone located beside the gate (for just such a purpose, according to the sign posted there), and called campus security. The guard on the other end of the line was kind enough to provide instructions on how we could find a way out, but we’ve been sworn to secrecy. The very best part was that once we passed through to the ‘outside’, right where we were we found two wing feathers from one of the peafowl. Feathered angels, guiding our steps. I should mention here that we have a whole collection of feathers, from hummingbird feathers to those of raptors and herons. Moulting may be a matter of course for birds, but to us each one is a precious gift. Arriving as they did made our magical night in the garden, perfect.