While I was gardening

The art of gardening and the science of life.

August Theme: Travel

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Costa Rica; Monteverde Cloud Forest

Have you walked through a cloud?  Have you walked on ground soft as moss and felt buoyant in heavy, damp air?  Did you imagine a forest silent and calm yet found it filled with movement and sound?  Did you walk out of the tyrannical heat of a late morning sun and into a welcoming dark so deep your breath stops for an instant?

Maybe you thought, as I did, that nothing could surpass the beauty of your native forests.  Maybe you felt that no other place could match the inherent strength of a redwood grove, the calm beauty of a rainforest, or the abundant energy of a Douglas fir setting.  Perhaps you believed, as I did, that the colors and shapes you would soon encounter would match the pictures you had seen of plant life in a cloud forest.

You would be surprised.

I walked into the forest and immediately, reflexively, ducked my head.  What was there to bump it on?   Dark.  Ambient space, dark and dense.  Warm heavy air dripped down upon me.  My clothes, already damp with sweat, became wet with cloud.  Moist fog slightly cooled the heat of day, but only slightly.  Breathing became a bit easier.  Above me, giant leaves cupped and curled towards earth and guided the flow of water into the dark space below.  Efficient.  I tried to brush away the mist surrounding me, but no perceptible clearing occurred.   Water trickled down my skin, down leaves, down vines – down the smooth bark of giant trees.  A walk along the dark path brought blasts of unexpected color in small, startling hues of reds, oranges, and yellows. The colors hit my eyes like a blow.  Flowers of playful shapes and candy colors – remarkable beauty in creative form.  The world looked and smelled green.

Our group walked in and out of shadow throughout our hike.  When we reached a break in the canopy, on our way to the zip line, my daughter and her friends were impressed with the noon sun – we cast almost no shadow.   Costa Rica is the closest we have been to the equator.

For most of the group, the zip line through the canopy of this lush forest was the high point of their tour.  For a few of us, however, nothing surpassed our walk through this primitive, sensual environment.  I still have dreams of the experience.

If you have the opportunity to visit this welcoming, peaceful country, do not miss the Cloud Forest of Monteverde.  This community offers comfortable hotels, beautiful scenery, wonderful coffee, ample hiking, and an artisan cooperative with hand-made crafts.

But most memorable – a walk through the Cloud Forest.


Author: dphare2014

Horticulturist, Lead Steward Carkeek Park Demonstration Gardens, Author

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