The Secret Garden

We found a place this summer.  A place where Weeping Willow branches wisp the ground beneath them and wild lily flowers shoot up to the blue sky above.  A place where bright green lily pads create a blanket for the red and yellow Koi fish that swim below, just waiting for a fist-full of food to graze the surface of their water home.  A place where cobblestone paths lead to wild prairie flowers, handcrafted Adirondack chairs are nestled beside oak trees, and milkweed grows at your fingertips.

We found a place.

A faraway place.

Okay, so maybe it's not exactly the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel I paint, but it is a great little hideaway place I had no idea existed.  The Cedar Valley has its fair share of beautiful parks and is even better known for its great bike trails.  One day this summer, Google helped me discover our very own Botanical Gardens.  Who knew Waterloo had Botanical Gardens?!  So, one afternoon, we went to scope it out.  And my, what a little treasure I found.


There are walkways and benches, Adirondack chairs for the young and old, a sandbox built for the Duggar family, and a Koi pond with lily pads and stone frogs that spit water in the air.  There are watering cans for the littles to help keep the flowers pretty, and a railroad system with trains, covered bridges, trees, and tiny people.  If one looks closely, one may also discover the remains of old prehistoric pets that used to roam the area.  

Last night, we beat the heat and had a picnic under the Weeping Willow tree.  With sweet tea and Popeye's Chicken, we munched and talked and made plans for future picnics.  Then, we explored.  Beau taught us all kinds of tricks, like knocking the concrete edge of the Koi pond to send the signal that food was in store, or using the pollen of the orange lilies to make face paint.  Cruz felt his first fish nibble and squeezed milk out of a milkweed plant.  It was quiet and peaceful.  


On the way back home, we talked about traditions.  Beau was thinking about the idea after one of his clients was talking about a Christmas in July tradition they have with their family.  And while putting up the Christmas tree, filling stockings, and singing 'Silent Night,' sounds a little weird amidst heat indexes of 100 degrees, I hope one of ours includes a picnic, some Popeye's chicken, and a weeping willow tree.  

And maybe a Koi pond, :)