Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Magic Places

When I was a kid I collected trading cards -- not baseball cards but regular playing cards with pretty pictures. Of course you could swipe a card from a full deck but we usually bought packs of cards at the dime store. We'd get a pack of ten or twenty cards with pictures of specific subjects like horses or flowers or an assortment, which meant potluck. We kept them in albums and traded with friends.

One of my favorite cards was a picture of Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Florida. It stood tall, reflected in a still pond framed with palm trees. I thought it must be one of the most beautiful places in the world. I didn't see it in person until my senior year in high school. The card didn't lie. It is one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. I've been back twice since then and it's still just as lovely.

It stands atop a 300 foot rise -- the Florida equivalent of a mountain -- and stretches 205 feet into the sky. It is made of Georgia pink marble and Florida coquina stone and decorated with colorful faience. Inside is a carillon of 66 bells. The music rolls regularly over the hilltop either in recorded or live concerts. The only entrance is through a magnificent brass repousee door.

I was there again last week. The weather had been useasonably cold -- the day we visited was the first day I'd ventured out without my longhandles! The air was fresh but the sun was warm. The landscape was lush with ferns, palms and bromeliads and brilliant camellias dotted the bushes.

I left the group to stroll alone through the gardens, my destination the bird blind called "Window on the Pond." It was noon and there wasn't a lot of avian action -- just a juvenile red-winged blackbird and a towhee -- but it was peaceful and quiet and a pleasant place to stop.

As always, my visit was too brief. Leaving the gardens, I looked up at the entrance and the motto emblazoned there. It was advice to Edward Bok from his grandmother. "Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it." She would be very proud.


Pete Sleeper said...

Hey, Elaine, beautiful photos and text. Felt like I was there.

Elaine Warner said...

Pete, you're my favorite non-stalker!