The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is Minnesota’s attempt at Eden. I can not do it justice in a single article — you can get married there, learn how to photograph eagles there, see giant origami sculptures there, listen to music there, and do yoga there. The best I could do with the Arboretum in a single day is wander around there. I went with my honey and wrote about it for you.

My favorite spot at the Arboretum is Green Heron Pond and the boardwalk that runs alongside it. The birds rule here. We saw a turkey hen pecking at everything her little brain compelled her to, geese and their fluffy goslings forming a tight convoy, and red-winged blackbirds desperately trilling away in their attempts to build respectable harems. Once in a while the green heron himself treated us to his song: a single, guttural creak. He brought Walt Whitman to mind: “I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

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We walked through the tulips. I once heard that the Dutch had once gone crazy for the things a long time ago, but until now I could never have imagined why. They’re gorgeous things, strikes of white, purple, red, and orange. Some had fringes like a dog’s lips. Others had far too many petals to have classified as tulips, according to my limited understanding of the things. It was all I could do not to pick one and risk being asked to leave.

The Japanese garden is a marvel. It has waterfalls and koi. The waterfalls tuck under your feet in one spot. The koi are on constant patrol for things that are good for koi. They mouth the water’s surface and occasionally jump out of it. This area is marked with subtle flora, not strong thrusts of color like in the nearby tulip beds. It is possible that the Japanese have a different take on gardening than the Dutch had.

We went to the shade tree exhibit, dotted with big leafy things. Its two tiny wooden houses piqued our interest, but they were too small for us to go into. They may have been meant for children. We found a much larger wooden thing that would fit us, something supported by four posts that put us up on seats a story high. It was nice to sit there simply because we could. We looked down imperiously upon the other people from our fortress, and listened to the breeze upset the shade trees’ leaves.

We walked into the prairie. The hot summer’s sun bore down on us. My collar was wrinkled with sweat, but because she is a thing that is not bound by nature’s laws, she stayed crisp and clean and beautiful. We stood there for a minute. I drew her in and kissed her. The gophers may have been watching, but they couldn’t have cared.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is Eden.


By David Scheller