Monday, July 4, 2011
The leaves of a certain mimosa plant shrink away from the touch of a human hand. Here, we call it the sensitive plant; in Viet Nam, it’s known as the shy bush. I have yet to meet a man, woman, or child who didn't find this fauna-like flora behavior absolutely irresistible. You can't not touch it.
The tours I lead at Huntington Gardens never get old. They all kind of start the same way – like it’s my duty, as touree, to say something, and their duty, as tourist, to listen.
But I let them know, pretty much off the bat, that’s not the sort of tour they’re going to get.
It’s going to be a conversation.
And there’s always a person or ten or twenty visiting from another country. When we reach a garden that is more their area of expertise than mine, not only do they have more information about the plants and culture than I, they start to share it.
Stories about India, Mexico, Brazil, Korea, Japan, Russia, England, Kenya, Germany, Australia … “When I was a child, we always picked this flower because…” or “We believe this tree brings…” and “Oh, I remember this from…”
At the end, we always shake hands, sometimes we hug, occasionally, they take my picture. I've decided to start taking theirs.
Half of the folks on most of my tours traveled from the four corners of the earth to get to my backyard. What an honor.