Friday, February 22, 2013

The Mad Gardener's Song

Perception is a curious thing.
Sometimes we see something in the distance
and we are sure we know what it is,
only to find out when we get closer that we were wrong.

photo courtesy of

One of my friends told me a story once about her parents.
who were driving in a rural area one day 
and passed by a shrub covered in beautiful pink flowers.
One of her parents said the unusual blossoms were on a camellia;
the other said no, an azalea.
To settle their disagreement, they turned the car around and went back to check. 
And what were the  lovely pink blooms?
The cups from pink Styrofoam egg cartons carefully attached to the branches.

The Mad Gardener's Song, a nonsensical rhyme by Lewis Carroll,
describes a man whose eyes are continually playing tricks on him,
as when ...
He thought he saw a Buffalo
    Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
    His Sister's Husband's Niece.
'Unless you leave this house,' he said,
    'I'll send for the Police!'

photo courtesy of

And in a later verse:
He thought he saw an Albatross
    That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
    A Penny-Postage Stamp.
'You'd best be getting home,' he said:
    'The nights are very damp!'

I sympathize, as this happens to me on occasion.
I may have mentioned before about the time I thought I was watching 
 a male cardinal braving a strong breeze.
I stood in the window, admiring the bird's tenacity
as the wind whipped the branch he was clinging to, tossing it to and fro.
I called my husband over to see the gallant bright red bird,
then suddenly realized my heroic cardinal was actually a red leaf.

photo courtesy of

I've seen rabbits that have turned out to be branches,
have tried to pick up sand dollars on the beach that turned out to be seagull poo,
and once plopped down next to a stick to plant crocus bulbs,
only to discover the "stick" was a snake.

photo courtesy of

And just this week, while driving home after work,
I marveled over the breathtaking beauty of the fire-red setting sun,
only to get close and realize I was looking at the "don't walk" light
on an electric pedestrian signal.

Or, as Lewis Carroll's Mad Gardener would say:
He thought he saw a Garden-Door
    That opened with a key:
He looked again, and found it was
    A Double Rule of Three:
'And all its mystery,' he said,
    'Is clear as day to me!'

And sometimes, for some of us, clearly unclear.

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