Monday, March 03, 2008

Flower house

"Welcome to the Garfield Park Conservatory," says the smiling woman sitting at the desk in the lobby. "Could I have your zip code please?"

And that's all she wants.

You're about to enter a miracle. A tropic isle in the center of cold, gray Chicago.

And there's NO ADMISSION.
You open the door and Humidity hugs you like an old friend. Your glasses fog up. You breathe deeply. Again and again.

"You okay back there?" says your husband, turning to smile at you.

"Just soaking it up," you say.

Your mother-in-law leans over to sniff a gardenia. You do the same. So does the older couple walking behind you.

It smells like happiness.

But Jim is right: "Just the smell of warm wet dirt would be enough."
It's been the Flower House to Jim's Mom ever since she was a little girl, walking there with her father on weekends.

Going on a cold winter day became a tradition for us over 10 years ago.

Of course this year's trip was especially necessary what with one of the longest, coldest, snowiest and blowiest Chicago winters in recent memory.

But five seconds after stepping into the Palm House - all the ugliness is forgotten - as your lungs wake up to fresh, moist air and your sad, dry skin soaks up the humidity like that sad, dried up sponge that's been sitting on the corner of your utility sink since you moved into the house four years ago.
There's a small bit of sadness at leaving the heat of the Palm House for the cooler, dryer Show House, but the flowers, ahhh the flowers.

"OHHHH, this is the BEST room!"

That was a smiling six-year-old boy, yelling what the rest of us were thinking as we stepped into the Fern Room.

He's right. It is the best. But it's all good here at the Garfield Park Conservatory.
I am listening to: NBC news
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Refreshed