Trails, tea and Tofino

You know those guided meditations which start, ‘imagine yourself in a beautiful place in nature…’? Well, ever since I’ve visited the Tofino Botanical Gardens on Vancouver Island, that’s exactly where I imagine myself. Perhaps it’s not surprising when you feast your eyes on these pictures…

IMG_0668IMG_0657IMG_0655IMG_0688

 


IMG_0700In fact it’s both beautiful and surreal. Especially when you suddenly come across a piece of home…

IMG_0768

Or a reminder that’s it’s been some time since you wrote in your journal…

IMG_0765

The gardens is designed to inspire conservation of, and provide information about, the world’s Temperate Coastal Rainforests. A series of boardwalks take you through to ‘pocket gardens’ which display plants that thrive in other temperate coastal rainforests around the world, some designed so you can look at all levels of the planting.

IMG_0751IMG_0685IMG_0755

There’s also the fascinating Bernardo O’Higgins homestead, recreated after a chance find some years ago. Somehow I don’t imagine Bernardo had much time for meditations.

IMG_0707IMG_0717IMG_0718

Bird hides to look out at the mudflats, part of a Wildlife Management Area.

IMG_0697IMG_0696And in the middle of the wild landscape, the thriving Tofino Community Garden.

tofinoIMG_0778A children’s garden that this ‘unsupervised adult’ found just a little tempting…

IMG_0769IMG_0771

 

Art was everywhere, adding to rather than taking away from the plants, although sometimes so much so that it was hard to tell whether it was natural or manmade.

IMG_0758

IMG_0649

Not to mention other fun things to do…

IMG_0659

Possibly the best selection of books on gardens and garden history in the cafe library, where there was also a reminder of the serious scientific endeavour behind the gardens…

IMG_0781

And, of course, a cup of London Fog through which to view the garden!

IMG_0783

If you have a garden and a library,

… you have everything you need. So said Cicero, and so, it seems, the Carnegie Library in London…

IMG_1497

 

I visited this library on Wednesday to sit on a session of the adult literacy group, the Ruskin Readers. But first, I couldn’t resist a quick peek at the ‘Reading Garden’. Admittedly it wasn’t the perfect day to take a book out to read, but I could just imagine doing so in the sunshine. Perfect! Lots of different places dotted round to sit and dream over the words.

IMG_1499

 

For all these reasons and more, the Carnegie Library is the perfect place for the Ruskin Readers to meet. This is a wonderful group where volunteers work on a one-to-one basis to help adults with reading and writing difficulties learn to read. It’s something I’m passionate about – particularly after hearing so many stories of the shame adults can feel when they can’t read or write, sometimes through no fault of their own. Caroline, who runs Ruskin Readers, said that their ‘readers’ may be dyslexic, left school to be carers or wage-earners, just not had the particular support they needed, or moved to this country and didn’t have the opportunity to learn until now. One reader I spoke to had come from Iran after many years in the merchant navy and he wasn’t the only person I spoke to who said the sessions with Ruskin Readers had changed his life.

And it wasn’t surprising. Just imagine how much we take for granted. All these wonderful opportunities as you enter the library, for instance.

IMG_1496

Not to mention the many possible worlds you can step into once you go inside…

IMG_1495

 

Here’s a poem I wrote for the Ruskin Readers…
WHY
In some circumstances, a y
sounds like an i,
put two consonants together
to feel your tongue moving forwards.
DRY
After a life on shifting sea, his son
asks him, why bother, but he’s pinning
himself down to this new country,
word by word by word.
CRY
She asks why should others miss out
on the pleasure she’s got from books,
andI see Dorothea, Elizabeth Bennett,
even Heathcliffe draw their chairs up,
sounding the letters silently with her
as she listens, explains, listens, corrects.
FLY
Listen to these scribbles on the page,
read the pictures with me,
we’re moving through the days here:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday.
SLY
I agree it doesn’t always make sense,
the words are moving too quickly,
out of reach, just like our days,
and yes, days
is a different kind of Y.
Let’s try again.