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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