Monday, August 24, 2020

Secret Garden

I first heard about the Haskell Public Gardens roughly about 11 years ago in my freshman year of high school. And I was surprised to say that, in the span of eleven years, I had never actually visited the space. Unlike most of the city's parks, courtyards, and other green spaces, this garden is a truly and well-hidden gem. It's a primly kept expanse of six acres tucked directly off of a main road -- one which I've driven down more times than I'd ever be able to guess. But, suffice it to say, Sunday was my first official visit.
The gardens are the work of, and accordingly named after, the late Allen C. Haskell. Haskell was in an internationally renowned horticulturist, known for featuring a host of plants, trees, and animals in this diverse nursery. It's hard not to admire his work; he cultivated this public space for over thirty years, in the middle of a small but culturally rich city. It made me think, though, and I took some time to consider why I, someone who cares for and particularly enjoys natural spaces, might hesitate to step into a space that looks so assiduously private.

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I will preface the resulting thoughts by saying that I a) won't be going too deeply into this topic, but b) am going off of the assumption that you lovely readers have had either the prior experience or at least the prerequisite learning to understand.
To put it plainly, there's a foundation of racial bigotry in this country that follows every person of color, but specifically Black people here throughout every facet of our lives. This, of course, extends to being less than welcome in even public spaces, as exemplified by the recent spate of "Karens" on social media.
We end up having to approach many things we do with a cautious hesitance, considering which spaces are truly open, and to whom. So I'm glad to have reclaimed that fear, and that my experience was pleasant and undisturbed, but still want to share this bit of honesty to illustrate why a visit to an otherwise unobtrusive space might initially be intimidating from certain perspectives.

What I'm Wearing