Monday, October 1, 2012

Photo by Becky Schnelker
The sunlight is always intense in dry, high-altitude Albuquerque, even as autumn begins to cool down the air. One of the things people new to this area notice is that you can feel chilly in the shade but step into the sun and suddenly it's hot. On the first day of fall, a group I belong to, Ikebana International #41, put on an exhibition of arrangements at the Rio Grande Botanic Garden. The garden was busy with visitors out to walk around outdoors in the company of their kids and phones and also enjoy the coleus, caladiums, and chrysanthemums on display. But they were getting pretty warm by the time they arrived at our exhibit room. It was air-conditioned, shaded from direct sun for most of the day, and lined with massive Chinese stone statues keeping their cool. Quiet Japanese flute music floated in the room. In front of the statues on tables with black cloths were our flower arrangements. People would hustle  in the door, and you could see them stop, take a breath, and relax. Children wanted to touch the flowers. I wondered how often they even get to see real flowers (especially flowers like lemon yellow calla lilies or pastel pink ginger blossoms)  up close now that our world is so full of fake flowers. Some visitors passed through quickly, but others stopped and looked closely and asked questions. One woman asked me, "How is icky baana different from any other flower arrangement?" I thought it was the best question I was asked all day and tried to explain (see Sept. 3 blog post for more about that).