Monday, April 11, 2011

Poem for Monday, VMFA & Richmond Gardens

A Nest Full of Stars
By James Berry

Only chance made me come and find
my hen, stepping from her hidden
nest, in our kitchen garden.

In her clever secret place, her tenth
egg, still warm, had just been dropped.

Not sure of what to do, I picked up
every egg, counting them, then put them
down again. All were mine.

All swept me away and back.
I blinked, I saw: a whole hand
of ripe bananas, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: a basketful
of ripe oranges, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: a trayful
of ripe naseberries, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: an open bagful
of ripe mangoes, nesting.

I blinked, I saw:
a mighty nest full of stars.

naseberry: sapodilla plum with sweet brown flesh


I spent a gorgeous mid-70-degree Sunday in Richmond with my family, Dementordelta, and Lin. Daniel was pretty fried from getting almost no sleep at the robotics competition (which he enjoyed immensely), so he barely spoke until about 5 p.m., though Adam was quite talkative, particularly since our first activity was a trip to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for the Picasso exhibit of works on loan from the Musee National Picasso in Paris. Adam dislikes art museums in general, but he has particular contempt for modern and contemporary painting and sculpture, so he kept up a running commentary of all of Picasso's perceived failures and there was no point in trying to discuss the fact that traditional representation was the opposite of what Picasso aimed to accomplish. The exhibit was so enormous that it was hard to take in all at once -- I will confess that my interest in modernist art has much more to do with how it influenced literature than in the art for its own sake, but I enjoyed it a lot. And the museum has a restaurant with excellent red pepper soup and cheese sandwiches, so lunch, at least, was a hit with my kids.

In the afternoon we went to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which was a delight. Richmond is about two weeks ahead of DC in terms of flowers, so there were hundreds of tulips and many redbuds and some azaleas. There are also fountains, ponds, a children's garden with raised walkways, the late 1800s house built by Ginter, and a conservatory that currently has a beautiful orchid exhibit. But the real highlight for me were the animals in the various gardens -- the turtles in the West Island Garden, the snake on the railing of the bridge from the Japanese Garden, the robin in a nest in the Herb Garden, among others. Adam got to test his macro lens on inchworms, bees, and lots of tiny blooms. We all had dinner together at a Mexican restaurant where we ate a great many chips and salsa, then ended up taking home the most excellent leftover enchiladas del pueblo because I couldn't eat any more. Evening TV was The Borgias, in which, like The Tudors, it's really hard to root for anyone because they're all so selfish and horrible!

One of the two snakes we saw in Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden -- the other was slithering in the grass near one of the ponds.

We also saw many turtles...

...and a proliferation of tulips, both outdoors and in the conservatory, though the big tulip exhibit isn't until May.

Delta, Lin, and I got to meet this giant corny guy.

Here is the dining room at Bloemendaal House, which we were told means "valley of flowers."

And here is the robin who had made a nest in one of the garden's bushes.

Adam took this photo of me and Paul in the conservatory in front of the Oncidium Orchid Falls.

No photos were allowed in the Picasso exhibit, but here is one photo from the Faberge collection at the VMFA. Bonus points if you can identify all the people in the photo in the lovely blue frame.

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