Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Flat Stanley" does The Huntington Gardens

Yesterday we took "Flat Stanley" to one of our favorite places in the world, The Huntington Library and Gardens. It was a beautifully fresh day after the rains. Buds were just beginning to awaken all washed and sparkling with the remaining dew. The skies were mostly clear with just a few multi-layered cumulo-nimbus clouds lurking. A perfect day for photography.

Our grandson Stone has had a "class project" to take his hand-crafted, two-dimensional, laminated character to a "distant place" that he hadn't been yet. Last year we took his sister's "Stanley" to Oak Glen. Then we take lots of pictures and Betty creatively mounts them in a "scrapbook" for presentation to their classmates. "Flat Stanley" is from a recent children's book/story where the main character is the "ultimate tourist" around the world because he is easy to mail there and flat (2 dimensional).

What was amazing to us was that so many people who saw us "posing Stanley" in the park, knew exactly who he was and what we were doing. Young families, older couples, grandparents all commented on our "project" and some said it brought back fond memories of their "travels with Stanley". There was an instant kindred spirit established with strangers. The only time we felt alittle foolish was when we "captured him" having "high tea" with us at the Huntington Tea Room.

At first, though, we took him to the Children's Garden and he "played" in all the fountains and creative enclosures and shapes. There were places to go in and under and over that were challenging at times...but he made it. He got wet and misty in the "rain forest fog". He climbed on topiary trees and plants of all shapes. Then he got lost in the Conservatory and almost fell in some carnivorous pitcher plants and venus fly-traps. Then he smelled the orchids and bromyliads(?) and went "swimming" in the lily pond with the koi. He waded in the bogs and slid down the bannisters. What fun he had! Then he had to rest on a ancient stone-sculpted bench. Several times he was almost eaten by the sentry stone lions that guard the Tea Room and the Japanese Gardens. He ate way too many finger sandwiches and scones and drank a delicious dark tea that smelled like roses. He made sure that most of his petite desserts had some form of chocolate in or on them. He could hardly make it to the Bonsai Gardens and those tree that are just his size. He saw the display of "National Doll Day" in Japan and was almost swallowed by the rock croc in the Zen Garden. There he meditated for a spell and leaned against a small border post. He resisted the urge to inscribe graffitti on the immense stands of bamboo.

Another new section I wanted to show him was the "beginnings" of the "Chinese Gardens". It has been long overdue as a permanent display garden at the Huntington. It will be built in two phases, the ponds and the pavilions. I included pictures at the top of this post because I can't get them to go down here. It is going to be grand and gigantic. It already has a fully matured stand of pine trees for the setting. Stan and I can hardly wait until it is fully finished in '09. I tried to explain the karmic irony (?) of this nacent project to him with my best pedagogical perceptions. You see, the original Huntingtons, the fathers and grandfathers of the Library's founder, built the western link of the "transcontinental railroad" with Chinese Immigrant/Slaves. They were not even allowed to ride those trains let alone live in the neighborhoods near San Marino and the Huntington. The great wealth from the further infrastructure ie. the Pacific Electric System in SouthernCalifornia helped the Huntington descendants buy and collect land, art and written treasures from around the world, even China. Now, the support and funding by non-profit grants and Private Estate Donations are in-part supplemented by these same Immigrants descendants and their progeny. This is truly "the American Dream" ...coming in the "back door" so to speak. It has happened before and it will happen again. Bob!


At 8:56 AM, Blogger BOB! Your Life Preserver said...

A follow-up: Mar. 15, 2006..."The Ides" Ominous... An article in the L.A. Times today "Bigotry Unearthed" sheding light on a dark period in L.A. history. In digging for the new commuter "Gold Line" out of Boyle Heights, bones have been found, plus artifacts (belongings) from a "Potter's Field" where early Chinese workers for the burgeoning transportation industry. They were even charged $10. to be buried there, next to the posh Evergreen Cemetery where the Van Nuyes, Lankershims, Hollenbecks and Workmans were buried...all names of leading pioneer builders of L.A. (like the Huntingtons). The Chinese Historical Society is demanding that the bones be "reinterred" with respect in what is left of Evergreen. The MTA is thinking about it. Bob


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