I planned my day thinking about enjoying the gift of tranquility. Formally turning in my volunteer materials at Bok Tower Gardens was my Monday declutter priority.
As I pulled into their parking lot, I thought, “Why not enjoy a nice lunch first, then a walk in the garden before handing over my notebooks and name tag.”
A Place Created for Tranquility
Approaching the visitor center, I stopped to read the Edward W. Bok quote, “Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it.” I breathed out a calming sigh.
Then I saw evidence that a bus load of active seniors was eminent. My focus changed. Quickly, I walked to the Blue Palmetto Cafe and placed my order. As I made my way toward my favorite table for two by the window, I saw the volunteer leading the first walking tour along the ‘river of stone’, the participants clearly engaged in a story about Spanish moss. This was my primary volunteer job. I felt both sadness and relief to see someone else performing this service.
My sense of tranquility, looking out onto the pollinator garden, intensified during my meal. Normally, I quickly finished my two-piece sandwich wrap and wolfed down the bag of chips. However, my behavior has slowly changed. Last lunch here, I saved the bag of chips for over a week in my car.
Today, I started feeling full before even finishing the first half of the sandwich. In addition to tranquility, I felt a sense of accomplishment as I walked to the cashier for a takeaway box. For convenience, I returned to my car with my half-wrap and bag of chips. By the time I again reached the cafe area, the active seniors had finished lunch and gathered for their special walking tour.
My Frame of Mind Had Changed
My feeling during this visit to the gardens was like any other member or guest who enjoyed the beauty and tranquility. I took the path less traveled toward a bird blind, “Window by the Pond”. I hadn’t ventured there during the three years I’ve been a member. Volunteering, I was too busy leading tours.
As I pulled open the heavy door, all my senses heightened. I stopped just inside the entrance, closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of the rough hewn benches and the earth beneath my feet. I heard the bird sounds from the trees above the roof of the blind before gently opening my eyes.
Water spread out before me, the surface reflected the blue sky and puffy white clouds. I slowly walked toward the large glass window and scanned the water’s edge for signs of nature. Next I stepped closer to the edge of the glass. My fingers ran across the words on the smooth surface of the plaque, which dedicated the structure as a place to view the natural Florida residents.
A Shared Moment
When I exited the blind, a male northern cardinal was perched on the back of a bench, transfixed on the squirrels enjoying the birdseed spilled beneath the feeder suspended from a large tree. I stopped in my tracks. Warning a visiting couple just entering the area across from me, I mouthed “Bird” and tilted my head toward the edge of the clearing. They had seen the squirrels, and now saw the bright red cardinal. We stood still, a moment shared by strangers. Eventually we needed to move on. The couple stepped toward the pond, I moved past the squirrels and the cardinal flew back into the safety of the native wild coffee shrubs.
My Tranquility Continues
I made my way to the wetland, always eager to see the carnivorous pitcher plants. There are at least three different types; one tall and lanky, another short and squat, and finally a yellow hue marked the third.
Wanting to wander a bit more, I let my heart lead me along the mulch trails by the edge of the older garden plantings. There I saw the beginnings of the azalea display. Once again I closed my eyes. A slow, deep inhale and the faint scent of flowers filled me as I stood beneath the filtered shade of 90-yr-old live oak trees.
My uplifted mood continued as I walked back toward my car, my mind at rest. As I opened the door, I remembered to stretch my legs, loosening the muscles. Slowly, I eased onto the driver’s seat. Before turning the key, I took a moment in gratitude.
“Thank you for showing me the wonder of nature and slowing my mind toward enjoying the gift of tranquility,” I whisper.
Continuing my day, I felt the stress of others tone down a notch as they reacted to my calmness.
That’s the best part of enjoying the gift of tranquility, sharing it.