21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories



The International Writers Magazine:

Amanda and the Arboretum
Tyrel Nelson

It was mid-July. The sky was clear, the sun was bright, and the temp was just right. The lawns were healthy, the trees thick and green, and the flowers lured you in with their vibrant colors. Everything seemed to be thriving on this picturesque afternoon—everything, that is, but me.

I had checked out. Although I was in the middle of a gorgeous garden, my mind was still in the car. I couldn’t stop thinking about the missed highway exit, the extra forty minutes of driving, and how, despite my arguing, I knew it was my fault. And to make matters worse, the one who justly pointed the finger at me was nowhere to be found. There I was, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, and I didn’t give a shit.
            Then, a familiar sound snapped me out of it.
            “There you are! What the heck is taking you so long?! You‘re sure moving slow for someone who was in such a hurry to get here!” yelled the blonde spitfire, quickly approaching me on the cement path. “It’s pointless…we should’ve stayed home…we’re not gonna have enough time…” Amanda went on, impressively lowering her voice to do her best imitation of me.
            I just laughed and shook my head. I didn’t know how else to respond. She was right, and I loved how she never hesitated to put me in my place. It was that spunk which attracted me to her so many years earlier.
            “Sorry,” was all I could mutter.
            “You’re too much. Did you get any nice shots?”
            “No, not yet.”
            “Well, good thing you brought THAT then.”
            I promptly reached for the strap slung over my right shoulder, removed the Canon from its case, and turned it on. Besides enjoying rare free time with my girlfriend, it was the reason I wanted to visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in the first place. Prior to this daytrip, the photographer in me was going crazy. I hadn’t taken pictures in months. So with camera in hand, I eagerly followed Amanda into the gobs of gardens ahead.

First, we wandered into the Terrace Garden, which mixed Easter-colored annuals and perennials. Then, we admired lots of dwarf conifers, endless evergreens that lined our path. Passing through the Perennial Garden, we analyzed another yard full of annuals before skirting an area flaunting peonies, lilies and daylilies.

Next, we strolled along a walk bordered with all sorts of stunning roses, frequently stopping to smell them. This pretty promenade led us to the Japanese Garden, which not only relaxed us with its waterfall, but also impressed us with its intricately-detailed stone lanterns. We then made our way toward a glade that showed off hostas, ferns, and perennials that loved the shade. Lastly, we checked out a fruit and vegetable patch prior to visiting the Woodland Azalea Garden. And just when Amanda and I thought we had seen it all, we discovered that the walking paths we had traversed led to additional walking paths; twelve miles of hiking trails actually snaked across this thousand-acre oasis. We looked at each other and knew there were many more steps to take. We were game.

Amanda and I were hardly into the second part of our tour when we realized just how vast the arboretum was. There were trees as far as the eye could see. Tackling the trails, we saw countless crabapples, maples, nut, oaks, and pines. Furthermore, we ambled around twenty acres of restored prairie, ogled a wetland sedge meadow, and circled various ponds—one being the home of a giant manmade lizard, which creepily bobbed up and down in mucky water.

Granting all this, the afternoon culminated with the Maze Garden. Actually, there were two mazes on the enormous lawn. They were huge, rivaling the giant hedge labyrinths that people only see behind mansions, or in the movies.
Amanda and I first headed for the archway labeled “Adults,” and quickly got lost. We tried several different paths, but each one led to a dead end or to other visitors who shared our confusion. Eventually, we retraced our steps back to the entrance, deciding to give the children’s labyrinth a go.
This one wasn’t any easier. Furthermore, I was wearing down, though the kiddy maze seemed to bring the child out of Amanda. Because my girlfriend was so full of energy, I only got glimpses of her back, if I saw her at all.
            “C’mon slowpoke!” she once yelled, waving at me from afar.
            “Yeah yeah!” I hollered back, entering the long, tree-lined tunnel that she was about to leave.
            In spite of her fast pace, Amanda couldn’t find the exit as she attacked the puzzle. Consequently, as I attempted passage after failed passage, I eventually ran into her somewhere in the middle of the labyrinth…I think. And once again, we escaped by shamefully doubling back to the entryway.

To add insult to injury, we soon noticed a few elated children running out of the exit. But it really didn’t bother me much. Watching Amanda’s enthusiastic approach to the maze was quite entertaining. I could tell she had fun, so I had a good time, too.

Meandering back to the parking lot, we reviewed the afternoon. We slowly made our way across the far-reaching acreage, agreeing on the disappointments, but spending most of our stroll reliving the highlights. Undeterred by the distance of our return trek, we had reached Amanda’s car before we knew it, just as the sun began to fall behind the brilliant horizon.
            The traffic was dreadful on the way home. Instead of getting angry, however, Amanda popped in one of her favorite CDs and loudly sang along to it. Similar to the way she didn’t let our tense travel to the arboretum ruin her afternoon, she wasn’t going to let a little gridlock dampen her mood. I couldn’t stop laughing.
That was classic Amanda—always looking to enjoy the ride. And fortunately for me, she was usually by my side.

©Tyrel Nelson Nov 16th 2009
More stories in Dreamscapes

The Cemetery & Me
Tyrel Nelson
The dog days of summer were biting. I felt the humidity of this mid-August afternoon sinking its teeth into me; the air so thick I could almost gnaw it myself


© Hackwriters 1999-2009 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.