Enjoyed a nice spring day last Sunday afternoon. I sat on my front porch and did this random and ever so bushy watercolor of my “across the street” neighbor’s trees. I was able to sit in the shade and take my time with mixing and remixing pots of color, waiting as long as I needed for the water to dry between layers and plenty of time between while to eat my lunch. On such a slow low 70s temperature day in the past I might have found myself at the Descanso Gardens. But of course that was not an option for me, or anyone, on that particular day. I have to say that even if the Descanso Gardens was open on a typical Mother’s Day I would not have gone over there—too many mom’s, grandma’s and strollers walking about for my level of comfort. I think I have always felt most comfortable at a socially appropriate distance from others. (So, what kind of mother am I anyway?) But I didn’t wallow in self pity because I wasn’t free to go where I wanted. For that matter I soon forgot that I shouldn’t be enjoying my personal porch zone and actually luxuriated in the shady confinement it provided. I wasn’t settling for second best at all. It was good.
But last Monday I got an email from the Descanso Gardens. It seems they would be opening again Saturday, May 16, 2020. It also seems they have quite a plan to help all of us safely visit the garden again. Even though you may or may not have ever been there I thought I would share with you just what they propose. Maybe you can imagine a garden near you that has been closed. Maybe they are considering similar rules for reopening. I have paraphrased what the email said here and I am wondering if what they are doing will be enough to keep us from spreading the virus to each other. Maybe the real question here is; Will people be OK with so much to think about before visiting a garden? Will they just follow the rules without complaining to the management? I need to digress here a bit as this is all sounding a lot like what is to become our New Normal if we are ever to leave our respective houses for fun outings. I’m not even sure the phrase New Normal isn’t some kind of oxymoron. Can something really be new and normal at the same time? I always thought being normal described something that had been around a while, not something brand new. Was there ever an Old Normal? I guess I also wonder if the definition of “keeping safe” has also taken on a New Normal meaning. When I was younger keeping safe meant something very tangible, like don’t take rides from strangers, look before you cross the street and don’t eat oysters in months without an “R.”
OK, back to the Descanso’s grand opening. All in all it seems they have 5 major rules to help us stay safe and enjoy the space.
- Maintain 6 feet or more distance between everyone, and that includes staff and other visitors
- Wear a mask (for all staff and visitors).
- Bring your own water as all drinking fountains will be closed (maybe the water has been shut off).
- Purchase a ticket to enter before your visit or show your membership card to get in (2 months of membership have been added to each card carrying member)
- Descanso Gardens will be a cashless establishment.
Are you with me so far?
Then they elaborated further (my comments in parenthesis):
- Hours have been extended—Open daily from 9am to 7pm. Members only from 8 to 9am (I’m a member, I like that.)
- The entrance has been altered to help with social distancing. (I’m curious to see what that will look like…)
- Hand sanitizing stations have been provided in the front courtyard.
- All indoor spaces have been closed—no gift shop, art gallery or Boddy House will be open.
- Restrooms will be cleaned every 30 minutes.
- No special programs will be conducted until it is deemed safe to do so.
- The Enchanted Railroad is closed for now.
- There is no seating in the central courtyard. This should help with maintaining appropriate social distancing. (That’s a huge change as they have a large area with cafe tables, chairs and umbrellas bunched together. That will have been cleared out.)
- Wheelchair rental will not be available. If someone in your group requires a wheel chair you will need to bring one.
- The Kitchen will be open for limited hours. You may purchase drinks or food. You may consume drinks in the garden, but must take the food home or to the picnic area outside the facility. (That’s actually a little weird as in the past they never allowed visitors anything but water when walking around. And I can’t really imagine drinking anything while wearing a mask, anyway. I guess you might be able to slip a very flexible straw under the mask if you get really parched…)
Don’t get me wrong, I am willing to try anything they suggest or demand from me for the privilege to walk in the rose garden again. I do so love to plein air paint there. I wonder if that will be allowed right now. Of course I can’t imagine how long I could sit among the flowers with a mask on. I would be so tempted to lift my mask just so I could smell the roses. How about you?
May 16, 2020 update:
I didn’t go to the Descanso Gardens today, but I did see some short videos people at the garden have been posting today. Looks lovely, with no reports of a garden revolt.
Also, I shared this watercolor with a virtual sketching group last evening. We were supposed to draw human heads in different positions and at different angles. I didn’t do that. One person said my neighborhood landscape had great energy. I thought that an OK comment as it did have a bit of a scribble going on. But I wasn’t the only one who did not draw heads. One grandma has not been able to see her 3-year-old grand daughter for a while, so she has been recently drawing virtually with that youngest grandchild. She shared some cute cartoons they’d made together. I especially liked her rendering of a duck going shopping. And so it goes with the new normal I guess…