'tis the season


Solstice.

Pretty soon now, anyway. If you don't know, there's this place in Pittsburgh, called the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden. Amazing place, truly.

Anyway, this month they are keeping the doors open late for the Winter Flower Show and Light Garden.

So, last night, Shawndra and I, along with her sister Annie, actually braved driving into Pittsburgh.

In the dark.

You have no idea how big a deal that is. Getting into and out of the city, even in daylight, is an adventure in navigating winding and hilly highways and streets with little signage - poor signage at that - surrounded by drivers moving at frighteningly high speeds.

Somehow, these people - the same people who decided that french fries should go inside your sandwich rather than beside - these people have somehow managed to cram a modern city onto a narrow peninsula between two major rivers, a city whose streets were laid down as wagon trails before the American Revolution. It reminds me of Honolulu, trapped between the ocean and the mountains. Neither is a fun place to maneuver if you have not lived there for thirty years.

I gotta tell you, it was worth the risk.

The conservatory is an amazing place; the original glass house opened in 1893 and has been expanded a number of times. The Tropical Forest Conservatory, along with the Stove, Fern, and Orchid Rooms, reminded the three of us of the Hawaii house. Some of the main rooms were filled with poinsettias and other winter bloomers, along with plenty of Christmas lighting and decoration.

Outside of the seasonal decorations, sculptures hide amongst the plants, and I just can't get enough of them. Here are two:

This glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly hangs high above the Welcome Center. You can't tell from my photo, but it's over twelve feet tall.

And this guy, one of Fräbel’s Longfellows, is a couple of feet tall and, along with several of his associates, can be found wading a stream in the Orchid Room.

In the South Conservatory, off the Palm Court, they've set up a giant garden railroad, celebrating 200 years of Pittsburgh (as they call the display). Part of it will be instantly identifiable for those of you who... let's just say: those of you who remember when there was no cable, the only cellular things were in biology class, and computers were bigger than houses.

Fred Rogers was born and raised near Pittsburgh, and he created a television program for kids which eventually helped kick off the Public Broadcasting System. Fred was the star and he played himself: Mr. Rogers. If that means anything to you, then you will recognize this:

You can explain it to the youngsters.

Outside, the Light Garden winds about the various gardens, and it is worth the price of admission. The picture at the top of this blog is just one of the amazing displays that made up the Light Garden. The larger balls in that photo are three-feet in diameter.

Here are some of the other photos I took:

It was amazing, and I just had to share.

Whatever it is you celebrate during this time of year, I wish you a happy and healthy one.

[images: Steven L Parker]

#holidays #travel

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