a quick jaunt to festival gardens

I love spontaneous trips out and I love that we can generally do them now that we’re smack in the middle of a large-ish city and it’s easier to get to certain places. I also find that Raspberry enjoys them and the day is generally spent in a good mood. Yesterday, we woke up to cloudiness and a bit of sun and I figured that since it wasn’t raining and the weather wasn’t going to get too much better in the coming days, that we might as well make an impromptu trip to Festival Gardens. Back in early September, there was a Not Back To School picnic there organized by a couple of other homeschooling families, and we’d really wanted to go, but a rainy forecast deterred us. Festival Gardens is two train stops away. It’s not much, but there’s also a half-hour walk to the station from our apartment, and I hadn’t wanted to go all that way for the picnic, only to be stuck under a pavilion the whole time. So we skipped out on that, but still wanted to check out Festival Gardens. And yesterday, we got the chance to.

Raspberry is really into trains at the moment. Not trains themselves, but riding them and memorizing the different stops on the various lines. Naturally, the trip on the train yesterday was a big plus for her. Festival Gardens is a human-made park, nicely landscaped with Chinese and Japanese gardens, ponds, streams and bridges. With all the manicuring needed for a park like that, it also came with a list of rules posted at each entrance. The ones that were most relevant for us were: no climbing on rocks or fences; and no throwing stones into the water. When you have a kid who uses the city and its structures as an urban playground (parkour, anyone?), rules such as these can be quite restrictive. As Lucas said, “where’s the fun in that?!” which I definitely have to agree with, especially when there are huge rocks just screaming to be climbed on and jumped off of. Oh well. So we explored the gardens, and watched the ducks, and Raspberry created a mini quarry with some of the rocks on the pebble beach. We also walked into a space full of rocks, that I suspect is a pond that has been drained. There was a small wooden play area, but she wasn’t overly fond of it, as it lacked a slide and she was a little small to fully enjoy climbing it.

We left the park and walked briefly along the river. Raspberry didn’t care too much for it and preferred to pick daisies and grass to put on Violet the cat instead. I think by that point, she was just tired and a little hungry. She declared that it was way too quiet by the river and wanted to go back. I must admit that on a cloudy, ever so slightly foggy day with few other pedestrians in a large space, it was a little eerie. I wanted to make the best use of our trip and see everything the gardens had. When you look at the space on a map, it almost seems like an insurmountable task to try to navigate through the whole park in one afternoon, but the gardens are smaller than what I imagined. Chalk it up to my poor sense of estimation, perhaps? We tried to locate the biodiversity zone but stumbled upon a muddy path with what looked like cleaned out pens with dried grass. I’m not sure if that’s what we were looking for, or maybe we’d missed the area being in full swing in the warm weather. With one tired kid, I wanted to do one final thing, which was to hit up the woodland trail up a giant flight of stairs to see the view at the lookout points. We found one of them, but as luck would have it, we ended up doing a big detour to the exit. Oops. Not quite lost, but not quite where we wanted to be either. Having seen just about everything we wanted to see and with the evening drawing close, it was time to go.

I did enjoy the serene afternoon we had, but I realize after yesterday that I much prefer a natural green space. A landscaped garden, while visually appealing, isn’t entirely my cup of tea. All the rules about not climbing also put a bit of a damper on it. I’m not a fan of always bowing to authority (even though my upbringing inevitably makes following rules my default mode), but in a privately-owned space I thought it was important to not do anything that might ruffle feathers or get us kicked out. At one point, I helped Raspberry up onto a wall and she balanced for a little bit before reminding me that there was no climbing. Sigh. I want to raise the kind of kid who questions authority and bucks convention, but at this age rules and things being black-and-white seems to be big deal. Anyway! Raspberry enjoyed the day too, and said she’d like to go back and show the baby everything. I liked the area, but not enough to make frequent trips there, so we’ll probably go again at some point, but probably not any time soon, since there’s lots of other things we’d like to do, and it’s a bit out of the way too. ‘Till next time.


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