Recently I spend five days alone in Redwood City, California while I was having treatments at Stanford University for a minor but annoying problem. Thankfully, the daily procedures were quick and painless, so I had ample time to write with a little time left over to enjoy that gorgeous part of the Bay Area. I usually travel with Tim, but he’s a busy man and couldn’t get away for this little journey.
Although I always miss him, I do enjoy the chance to be isolated for a few days from all that is familiar. Traveling alone allows me to explore corners of my overloaded brain that I rarely visit, to ruminate and take stock of the past, the present, and to speculate about my plans for the future. I also have to muzzle my natural garrulous impulses because there’s no one there to hear me.
I promised myself that I would take a break from my work to revisit Filoli House and Gardens, which were a mere seven minutes away from the cute little studio cottage I was renting.
Filoli House, a modified-Georgian mansion, restored and furnished with taste and restraint, always makes me feel as if I’ve been invited to visit someone’s warm but elegant home for a party. But it’s the gardens that beckon me to return again and again. I’m convinced that this is the way God would build a garden if he had the money!
Since Tim and I almost always travel together, it’s unusual for me to experience such lavish beauty without having someone handy to nudge and share comments. Eventually, I was so overcome with joy at some of the plants and designs in the garden that I couldn’t control myself and exclaimed my pleasure to strangers. This produced mixed results from my unwitting companions, but at least I found a lovely Asian lady who offered to take my photo with the luscious wisteria that draped elegantly from almost every building, wall, and pergola.
Since neither you nor Tim was with me, I’ll share what I saw with photos and videos. It would have been much more satisfying to poke you with my elbow and point out my discoveries personally, but this will have to do.
I loved my stolen afternoon at Filoli for many reasons, but this time, in addition to lifting my heart and spirits with the beauty that always awaits me there, visiting alone gave me a great opportunity to renew my acquaintance with myself. It’s the same private communion I feel when kneeling in my own garden, touching the earth and experiencing the sense of renewal and hope that all gardeners feel when planting a crop, flower bed, or tree. And although my little plot is light years away from the magnificence of Filoli, I still feel a deep connection with the real master gardener!