GARFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY, REVISITED
Ty, who is easily interested in nature and greenery, had never been to Garfield Park. And so, on the last Sunday in April, I drove us to the Park, which is just two miles south of my apartment. We went into the Conservatory first, which is a 10,000-square foot facility that prides itself on always being "in full bloom." The Conservatory features a permanent rainforest theme, and hosts plants such as the cacao and chicle trees. I had warned Ty that it would be humid inside and, sure enough, we were both a bit damp once we were done with our tour.
Outside the Conservatory, in the Sunken Garden, were thousands of tulips. Purple. Red. Orange. They were cheerful and happy, and as we walked around the grounds, we told each other stories, like always. I told Ty about my love for violets.
"When I was little, the yard surrounding our old house, the yellow house, was lush with violets--purple, white, the ones that were both. I'd carefully pluck them, doing my best to pick the tallest ones. I'd carry them in my small fist, a child-sized bouquet, and give them to my mom, who always--always--pulled out a vase or a coffee mug or something and put them on the table."
Before, during, and after story time, Ty and I held hands. We poked each other. From each other's faces we brushed the rebel hairs the wind stirred. We tap-danced around the ant hills, laughed at the goofiness of the words "brambles" and "thicket." The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and I kept squeezing Ty's hand harder and harder and harder, not wanting to let go, not wanting to let him go.
No matter. We broke from each other when we left the Sunken Garden and went back into the Conservatory. There were a handful of plants displayed just inside the door, and Ty wished to purchase one, to take with him some sort of souvenir.
Back in the car, Ty set his plant on the floor, between his feet. "It should be fine there," he said.
"You think it'll do okay once you're Evansville?" I asked.
"I think it will love the humidity."
And so Ty went home with a coffee plant, and I went home with pictures, and we were happy.