Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Maggie Muggins at Biltmore

We are now staying in what we consider our home away from home: Swannanoa, North Carolina.  Endured a terrific wind storm on our first night, but since then, it's been pretty tranquil.  We do love it here.

Today, Maggie Muggins (our dog) and I went to the Biltmore Estate, which is currently celebrating its Festival Of Flowers.  The two of us gals had previously visited the Estate's Riverbend Farm back in Julyso we concentrated our sightseeing on the gardens adjacent to Biltmore House.  The photo is one of The Mags examining water lilies in the Italian Garden.

Visiting gardens with a dog is probably as much fun as visiting a circus with a child -- minus the excited chatter!  Maggie wanted to explore every path, sniff every tree, delight in wading through the ivy that covered the ground.  Her senses must have been overwhelmed, especially with the scents of jasmine, honeysuckle and rose that perfumed the air. 

I wonder how many people visit the grand Biltmore House without ever venturing into its gardens?  The house, its furnishings, its priceless works of art are indeed a wonder to behold and not to be missed.  But inside the house, one must keep moving along with the long line of visitors; there's no place to stop and take time to process the experience.  There are several Flemish tapestries, for example, that have all sorts of Biblical or classical imagery woven into them, and I've often wished that I could pull up a chair with a friend and take time to identify every scene or event depicted in those tapestries.  Impossible!

It's all different in a garden.  There's plenty of time for contemplation, for study ... for simple enjoyment of nature.  Take a look at the first picture above.  Maggie had to choose to cross stepping stones over a rushing stream in order to continue on our path.  Pretty scary stuff for a dog!  She hesitated at first (so did I) but figured out how to get across, because she wanted to experience everything.  Instinctively, I suppose, she knew that there were great rewards beyond that obstacle.  If she were able to talk, she'd probably tell you that her instincts were right!  It reminds me of a quote that my grandmother had in her house: "You're nearer God's heart in a garden, Than anywhere else on earth."

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