Tag Archives: childhood

Living in the Library Part One

Growing up in New York, one of my places of refuge as a child was an old stone building on East Sixty-seventh street. Two heavy wood doors with big brass handles opened into a world of color and silence. The marble entry hall floor was cool and patterned. The smooth old wooden bannisters on the stair, had been polished by the hands of generations of children before me. A private club, for which admittance and independence depended on the ability to sign your name. Offering a place to think and indulge in fantasy, free for the taking to all who clutched the card . The library. The tall walnut shelves tickled the ceiling and a rolling ladder gave access to even its highest reaches. I often thought I could live there comfortably. Unfortunately,the chance to move in never presented itself, and I was probably too much of a rule-follower to risk sneaking an overnight stay. What if I lost my privileges ?!! After visiting the main branch on Fifth Avenue, although not nearly as cozy as my branch, I realized it had the lock on grandeur. Imagine being guarded by lions! What a home that might have been!

Inspired by those memories, I have created these images to provide a home away from home, all nestled neatly into books.A quick glance at the shelf wouldn’t give my secret away.


Finding Inspiration and a Second Childhood at the Memphis Botanic Garden

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a big city and didn’t have a backyard, or that by the time I had the house and yard, I was too busy with kids and career to worry about making it whimsical. Maybe those are my excuses , but when I found My Big Backyard at The Memphis Botanic Garden (www.memphisbotanicgarden.com) I found all the imagination and charm one adult or child might want. It’s definitely the place for my second childhood.

My first visit , a weekday morning with bright sun and a whisper of clouds , was perfect for shooting infrared. As I entered the outdoor house with its moss-covered sofa and chair,vintage kitchen stove and refrigerator, beds and bath,  enchanted me. (I’d die for the outdoor shower with purple tub.) I could imagine listening to bedtime stories under the stars on one of the iron beds . It would be wonderful if they ‘d plant a patchwork quilt coverlet of flowers on each bed.

From this first visit I was hooked. It ‘s like having my own secret place without the work and I keep returning. Each time I visit my photos are different, and there are changes – in color , placement and additions.It grows.

The enormous treehouse , metal chrysalis swing , and house of twigs enchanted my camera for hours.The hand of artists is felt throughout the area. Birdhouses, bottle trees, sculpture, scarecrows, and treehouse art makes the garden a living gallery.

Recently, visit I was intrigued by how making music is such an integral part of the site. In the playhouse are making materials that include flip-flops as rhythm instruments, a xylophone of wrenches , and a set of chimes made from metal wineglasses (would make a  great Pinterest project). Right in front is a wooden bench of which the seat is a xylophone. I’d love one of those for my backyard. Sounds also include a half-hourly thunderstorm and spray at Raindrop Stop.

You need your imagination to dress scarecrows, crawl through anthills, or climb a spider’s web. You can put on a puppet show or take up residence in a person – sized doghouse . Each experience is multi-sensory, but the one I find myself using the most is the sense of delight.

After reading about the next addition coming to the garden, Candy Plant Land, I can’t wait to see Licorice Leap, climb Big Rock Candy Mountain or stroll through Marshmallow Meadow. It will be an interactive game and Candyland was my early favorite. I was always so excited when I got the ice cream card.I suppose I will need to volunteer to babysit a friend’s children so that I can explore My Big Backyard through a child’s eyes.I’ll also bring my sweet tooth and camera.


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