Tiny Travelogue

I don’t go far from home. I don’t travel much. I like being home. And lucky for me there is a seemingly endless supply of things to explore right under my (geographic) nose.

Today we decided to explore the Morris Arboretum. It was established on the grounds of Compton, the summer home owned by the wealthy Morris family starting in 1887, who collected plants and were interested in furthering horticultural education; it is now part of the University of Pennsylvania. Not located near the main campus, though – it is only about 15 minutes from my house.

We became members not too long ago – I thought it might be a good place for walking, especially for my husband, as he continues to gain strength after his knee injury. Believe it or not, in almost 40 years of living close by, I had never visited the site, though I had often thought of doing so in recent times, because I drive past it on my way to Chestnut Hill College (of poetry marathon fame!) all the time.

It is expensive for a single visit, but a membership could pay off for the two of us after three visits – and being members makes a quick stop just for a walk much more likely. I signed us up. ┬áToday was a reconnaissance mission.

It was a stunning day – sunny, warm, and low humidity. We parked in the lower lot – other people had the same idea as us to visit the gardens on such a nice day – and walked up the hill to the main building. I noticed I could see the roofs of Chestnut Hill College across the way – it is next door.

We walked around the upper areas following paved paths past manicured lawns and many trees. I found some details interesting:

Small structures dotted the area as well as sculptures:

There were other attractions, such as a garden railway exhibit and a treehouse/walkway structure; fernery; rose garden. Today, these areas were crowded with families; even if they hadn’t been, they didn’t much appeal to me. If this had been all there was to the place, I would have been lukewarm on it. I will say, though, the level paths would make a nice circuit for an easy walk (or run, if you came on a non-crowded day).

We made our way back down the hill to the wetlands area. This section was deserted and quiet. Just birds, insects, trees…

Now I was interested. Look at this milkweed.

A bee was working very industriously at this flower head.

This dead tree’s stark appearance amid all the greenery made it a landmark.

Mowed paths guided us through this section. There was so much to look at.

My assessment of the arboretum: I thought the main area tame and uninteresting. The wetlands, fantastic. I could see visiting that section often just to see the changes in the landscape. I much prefer walking on grass to asphalt. Wilder to manicured. Full of detail to edited. I’ll come back and concentrate my attention on this area, I think.

It would be a great spot for a walk after a poetry marathon session or for my husband to visit during lunchtime. I’m glad we checked out the arboretum.

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Sunshine Project – Day 83, Labyrinth, Philadelphia, PA

I’ve been wanting to visit this site for some time, but the weather has not permitted it. Now that the snow covering the ground has melted, I was able to take a sunshine to the labyrinth on the campus of Chestnut Hill College, about fifteen minutes from my house.

Banner CHC 3-13-15

Chestnut Hill College is a small Catholic college founded by the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Originally it admitted only women; now it’s coed. Many nuns who taught in the Philadelphia Catholic schools were educated there and today it’s a popular place for teachers in public and private school systems to get their education degrees, BA or MA.

I was interested in this labyrinth because I’ve walked several of them in different places, and I find the experience to be calming and meditative. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has a clear path to the center. The repetitive movement and the slower pace help turn the walker’s mind toward reflection. Some sources I’ve read have compared it to a symbolic pilgrimage.

I wanted to leave a sunshine there and to take the path. So I went over to the school and parked. A very nice security guard assured me that I had found the visitors’ lot and would not get towed – the first step toward a leisurely visit! I walked across campus. to the labyrinth, which is located at the edge of the campus behind the sisters’ motherhouse building.

Holding the sunshine in my hand, I walked the path to the center and set the sunshine in the middle area.

After I finished, I looked around the area a bit. I noticed a small tree with a dedication at its base and a whole crowd of buds in the branches just waiting for the right moment to leaf out.

And I looked up at this ornate clock tower above the labyrinth – what a beauty.

clock CHC

I decided to take a stroll through the campus on the way back to the car. I had not been inside the buildings at this school, so I thought I’d see about going inside. I was able to walk all through the main buildings on campus. They are somewhat severe on the outside but the insides were dignified, comfortable, spacious, and full of detail.

My last stop was the cemetery where many of the sisters are buried. It’s at the edge of campus behind the area of the library, very quiet and peaceful. Each sister’s headstone contains only her religious name and date of death, and the phrase “Rest in Peace”. Very different from public cemeteries with their elaborate monuments.

As I walked into the parking lot I noticed the girls’ softball team was getting ready for practice. As I watched they started off on some laps around the field. Once again, a sign of spring.

Softball CHC

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, March 13, 2015.

Sunshine, March 13, 2015.

More about the Sunshine Project here, or look in the category “Sunshine Project”.

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