Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two tours, one day, two similar experiences

by Lynnda
Mallard Drake, photo by Lynnda
 Why does the duck cross the road?  Why does the duck's mate cross the road?  I couldn't figure it out, but I watched them walk the perimeter of the south west area near the Korean pagoda.  I wonder if they were looking for a good place to hide a nest.  They were not at all secretive about their trip.  But, it was fun to watch them waddle near the fence.  They were very determined and not concerned about the number of people watching them.  I had to get back to the gate house to meet my group, so I don't know why they crossed the road...

Female Mallard, photo by Lynnda
 I guided two tours last week on the same day, two very different groups.  The first was a group of women from a local garden club.  Guiding garden club tours sometimes makes me nervous.  Just a few questions from them and they'll immediately know I am a least knowledgeable plant identifier.  I am not a botanist nor a biologist, hardly even a gardener.  I love walking around the garden, and I love to share that love with garden visitors.  Fortunately, this delightful group of women didn't ask plant questions that I couldn't answer.  Had they asked for specific identifications, I would have directed them to the link for the plant book, found here.

Rhody, photo by Lynnda
The second group I guided was first grade girls from a Brownie troop.  I've not guided very many children's tours, actually, only one.  And that one was almost a disaster (2 dads, 7 fourth graders, 7 magnifying glasses and a dad-taught quickie on fire starting 101).  Two years later, I'm guiding my second youth group.  These girls were GREAT!  They had small notebooks and pencils, and were diligent in recording what I was saying.  What surprised me was my talking about the same items to each group.  We stopped to look at the sapsucker holes in the cypress.  On the back trail near the start of the stream, we stopped to feel the softness of the Rhododendron yakushimanum.  Both tour groups loved the rich suede leaf.

Acer palmatum 'Shigitatsu Sawa', photo by Lynnda
Both tour groups were enchanted by the view looking up into the leaves of the Shigitatsu Sawa maple, just to the south-west of the tea house.  The delicate leaves are often missed because we are being careful to watch where we're walking.  At this point on the tour with the girls, I found I was taking time to spell words for them to write in their notebooks.  They were doing a lot of writing! I told them their memories were so good, they could listen to what I was telling them, and then we could choose one or two words to write in their note pads to remind them what they saw. 

Turtle enjoying the sun, photo by Lynnda
The sun was out and there were so many turtles lounging on rocks near the water.  Feeding the koi is always a treat for all ages.  The fish never seem to be full.  The Brownies especially enjoyed trying to place the fish food close enough for the turtles to grab it before the ducks or fish devoured it.

Koi feeding, photo by Lynnda
We talked about all the senses that come alive in the Garden.  Fragrances would suddenly arrive, and the source could not always be identified.  We enjoyed the difference in sound between the stream and the waterfall.  Many birds were flitting throughout the trees.  The sun was brilliant on some of the paths, and on others, we were in the shade and couldn't feel its warmth.  There were so many shades of pink, from the palest, almost white, to brilliant deep pink.  Each group had interesting observations throughout the Garden.

Although the two groups were very different in so many ways, the joy of the Garden was appreciated by each group in their own way.  The experience for me was equally pleasurable with each group.  I have new enthusiasm for leading school groups.  I'm still gathering my courage to volunteer for a high school Japanese class.  Maybe next year...

Iris next to inland sea, photo by Lynnda

1 comment:

  1. looks like everybody had fun! the very reason i like giving tours to young children is that they are much more inclined to just look at the garden and feel it:) i sometimes wonder if the people who hear more detailed talk have even time to look more closely... and don't fear the the high school japanese class, Lynnda - they are usually the ones most genuinely interested in everything you share; they chose to be in that class!