Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Great Escape


There’s an oasis in Dallas. Next to White Rock Lake, in an area that just 20 years ago was the edge of the city, is a thriving tribute to nature and man’s ability to design structures that complement it.

It’s called the Dallas Arboretum. (click thumbnails to enlarge)

Shannon and her mom planned this trip, and I decided the day before that Ben and I would join them. I wasn’t sure how he would like it, because I envisioned it as a place for adults to look at flowers. My only previous visit there was in winter, when hardly any flowers were in bloom and we nearly had the place to ourselves.

This trip couldn’t have proven me more wrong.

[photopress:DSC_6868_sm_blog.jpg,thumb,alignright]We saw flowers, of course, but the chrysanthemums weren’t quite out yet. Awaiting us were summer’s last gasps and a few fall flowers that would already be long gone in a climate cooler than ours.

Throughout the park were “treehouses,” structures built around large trees by local artists. They were large enough for children and adults alike to run around inside them.

My favorite consisted of green mesh stretched over various lengths of PVC pipe (see pic at top), forming a group of curved canopies the artist called, “Leaves Imagination.” Hanging from the ceilings were colorful paper leaves made by elementary school children from around the Dallas metro area.

Geared specifically toward children were the pumpkins and the maze.


Ben loves pumpkins, but instead of picking out one to keep, he just moved a few around the huge pile. He and his mommy posed in front of a large green bush featuring orange flowers and clipped into a pumpkin shape.

[photopress:100_1342_sm_blog.jpg,thumb,alignleft]Next, Ben and I ran through a maze of rectangular hay bales. He found his way through it the first time, with no wrong turns. My mind flashed back to Stephen King’s The Shining, except with much less snow and fewer axe murderers. There was an aspiring writer chasing him, however.

Then came the giant frogs, a highlight for kids and adults. Four of them, each on one corner of a square, squirt streams of water into a central fountain. Shannon got frustrated when she tried to pose for a picture with Ben, who doesn’t have much interest in the camera unless it’s his idea. Catch him in a spot he chooses and he gladly smiles for the camera.


If mountains are mountainous, then are fountains fountainous?

[photopress:DSC_6912_sm_blog.jpg,thumb,alignright]The oversized flowerpot was one of Ben’s favorites. In there alone at first, he rushed up to all entrants to say, “Hi, what’s your name? My name’s Ben. I yiv at my house with my mom and dad.” One Asian man with a strong accent said, “Oh, that’s cool. My name Steve.” In another tree house, Ben walked up to two children and poked them in the chest, expecting them to play tag with him. We need to work with him on the concept of not touching strangers, nevermind merely talking to them.

Except for that one man, nobody all day replied to Ben’s introduction. He just looked after them as they walked away, a blank look on his face. He’s a friendly little boy who just wants to know everybody he meets. I hate that he will have to learn that most people couldn’t care less whether they ever know him. At the same time, I hope it doesn’t curb his extrovert tendencies. He and I always will have common ground if he remains as big a ham as his old man (and his mommy, for that matter). I still haven’t learned not to strike up conversations with grocery store cashiers.

[photopress:DSC_6926_sm_blog.jpg,thumb,alignleft]Our favorite Ben line was, “Yook, a princess,” when he saw a woman in full bridal regalia. We happened to be in a popular spot for outdoor portraiture. In addition to traditional white, Ben also saw women in colored dresses, proclaiming them the “orange princess,” and the “red princess.”

The Dallas Arboretum, its 66 acres filled with large trees and innumerable flowers, also features old-world architecture alongside calm reflecting pools and waterfalls. When I’m there, I don’t know I’m in the city.

Who would have thought that a drive into Dallas would reveal a great escape from the concrete jungle?


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8 Responses to Great Escape

  1. I envy you Mark… your son is full of wonder and happiness.
    My son (at 21), only wants to know what time is dinner, and if he can use the car to go hang out with his friends.. *LOL*

    Loved the pictures.. it’s amazing, all 3 of you are very photogennic. *S*

  2. I like the pumpkin pic the best. Ben’s wardrobe complements so nicely. If you had seen “Redrum” painted on any of the hay bales, then I would have worried.

  3. Very interesting post, Mark and the pictures were a perfect addition. I love the mood that “Leaves Imagination” creates. Really cool. (Tell Simon that actually, Ben’s shirt clashes with the pumpkin, rather than complementing…)
    Hi Shan :-) Lookin’ good!

  4. That looks like a pretty cool place. Nice pictures. Who in their right mind wouldn’t answer a little boy as cute as Ben? What’s wrong with those people?

    I just hate it that I’m not going to get to see him next weekend. A day doesn’t pass without Charles saying Ben’s name at least a few times. We’re going to have to plan a quick trip down there soon. If Ben’s talking as much as Charles now, it’s going to be fun to listen to them. Every day is like one big narrative. Man…they say funny things. Today he was playing trains and dinosaurs together, and he started an argument between Thomas and his big green dinosaur regarding which one of them could make the most smoke! I wish I had the video camera on that one.

  5. Dave – I’m sure you had great moments with your son (and daughter, of course), and will have some great ones with your grandchildren, when they come along.

    Simon – I liked that one the best, too, which was why I was so upset that my camera metered off the wrong spot and it turned out too bright.

    Linda – That leaves design was the best of all. The shirt? Glad I wasn’t asked to judge!

    Charles – It’s very cool, and I’ll get some pictures of the actual flowers in the spring.

    Sounds like Ben and LC are just alike in that they narrate their actions, and create dialog for their toys. Ben loves to do that. I don’t know whether he does that due to the small amount of TV he does watch, or because of the amount he doesn’t watch. I’ve always heard that they have better imaginations when they don’t watch as much TV, but sometimes it’s pretty clear that his springboard for ideas is something he saw on the tube.

  6. Nice pictures. I think you and your family have done more things in the DFW area in the little more than a year you’ve lived here than my family has done in the last eight years here. We suck. :(

  7. Alvis – Well, heck, sir, it’s never too late to start. We’ll go with you if you want company.

  8. Alvis – And another thing… the last time we lived near an area with a lot to do (just outside Washington, DC), we only ended up being there eight months, so our plan to pace ourselves over the four years we thought we’d be there kind of backfired. Not saying we’re taking off, just saying one never knows.


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