The Botanic Gardens

Chris BeecherEthnography, New Voices, Previous Editions

The Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens

I am at peace; I am currently in the Botanic Gardens at CSUN, and it is surprisingly calm. People are shuffling and scuffling around the gardens’ perimeters. It makes me feel nervous; it feels like I shouldn’t be here but at the same time it feels just right. Sitting in front of me, there is a CSUN trash can with green labels printed on the sides. I am observing the sticky blue gum stuck on the trash bag, overflowing on top with mild interest when suddenly I see a black line that is shifting and moving. I squint with my eyes for a closer look; I realize that the line is ants. My gaze is then diverted by something more interesting.

A little farther away, there is a pathway that bends to the left and possibly leads to a new pathway intersecting it. It makes me wonder just how big this garden is. The sounds from the construction work and the passing sounds of skateboards as well as birds chirping are the only sounds that I hear. No one is speaking except for my own voice in my own head. I notice more people walking by, but I highly doubt that they notice me. I am hidden in this little green forest, away from prying eyes. A tree that is above my head gives me protection from eager squirrels chasing each other. Things are moving in a slow and peaceful way; even this wooden green table, though ragged and rough, seems to be at peace. I take a deep breath to relax myself, and I smell the aroma of the Earth.

The trees give off their natural scent, and the dirt has a calming effect. The temperature is perfect though the heat is rising a degree or two every two minutes. I take another look around for curiosity’s sake and really study the plants; some are shaped like green spiked flowers. There is a tree stump that has sadly been cut down and smoothly shaven so that it can never grow again. Behind me there is another tree with green and red spotted leaves. I study the colors closely. They catch my eye because they’re complimentary colors. I try and sense for more human interaction.

There are a few shouts from loud girls asking about a Chemistry assignment, and then it goes quiet again. I watch a girl go by; I can’t tell what her age is because the trees and plants are blocking my view. I catch a shimmer of her hair from the sun’s light. The strands look to be a golden bronze color. My ears perk up suddenly, distracting me from the attractive hair. The bells from the clock tower are chiming again. That’s twice now. The sound feels like a warning. I sigh and gaze off into space and listen to an airplane go by. The sound is reassuring and comforting.

I look to the pathway again and notice bees or wasps making crisscross motions back and forth as if they were in a hurry to get something done. I smile a little; the bees remind me of when I stress myself out for no reason. My gaze lands on a fluttering pastel yellow butterfly. It is suddenly bouncing and bobbing around my head. I suddenly have a small passing thought of my childhood fantasy, that I was a fairy in my own little forest.

My thoughts break as I quickly whip my head to glance behind me. I have the strong sense that someone is watching me; it makes my heart beat faster but there is no one there. And then my fears are confirmed as I hear a very loud shuffling through the brambles surrounding me, as if someone was trying to pass through. I turn my head again, but the footsteps are in truth a bird’s bony feet. I didn’t realize that their weight caused the branches to rub against each other that loudly. I am surprised and annoyed at the same time.

During my time here I discovered how peaceful one place can be even if the rest of the county can be annoyingly busy and loud. Judging by my good experience here in the gardens, I look forward to discovering other peaceful areas in Los Angeles; my goal now is to locate as many places as I can find in Los Angeles that suit my personal tastes.