I planned to use my newly discovered camera filters on a not-new camera to create an alternate reality and a community rose garden seemed the ideal setting.
A wood split rail fence enclosed a square space with brick walkways. A copper water fountain sculpture was a focal point directly in view of a gazebo on one end and the entrance on the opposite side. Concrete benches stood guard in the two other corners in front of white rosebushes.
The beauty made me want to try a present-moment awareness exercise so I could truly escape. I recently found a psychiatrist you-tuber who explained the benefits of mindfulness more clearly than I have heard before.
Slowly walking around the narrow brick aisles of the rose garden, I stared at each flower, noting its color and trying to smell it through my congested nasal passages while dodging the working bees. Each rosebush had a little sign with a fitting name, like Pink Peace, Pretty Lady, Sun Flair, Angel Face, Radiant Perfume, Serendipity, Carefree Spirit, and All that Jazz. Tranquil names for flowers in this sanctuary.
Then, I heard quick steps behind me getting closer. I stopped, turned around, and stepped aside to let them pass.
Ares in the Rose Garden
I saw a giant, white, fluffy dog coming toward me. He was on a leash but was leading the way.
“You’re not in our way. My dog wants to greet you,” said the lady walking behind him. “I let him go wherever he wants.”
He smelled my hand, so I pet the top of his giant head and his upper back. It was a hot day, but his fur was cool on the surface, and damp near his skin. He was panting quietly and had a calm presence and weary, but soulful eyes.
“He can sense when someone needs him,” she told me. Hmm, I had been told this several times in the last few weeks when a stranger’s dog came toward me with a wagging tail and smiling eyes.
I noticed he was wearing a service dog vest but kept my nosy questions to myself. She told me he was an 8-year-old Great Pyrenees, named Ares. At first, given his size, I thought he was named for the Greek god of war. After a minute, he pulled her a few feet away and put his head in a rosebush. White petals fell on his head and snout. That made me wonder if he was named for Aries, the ram, the astrological sign.
“Be careful! Don’t get stung,” she told him. She had gotten stung this morning at home when she saw a bee on a leaf and tried to move him off the sidewalk so no one would step on him.
“Have a blessed day,” she said as she took Ares into the shade of the gazebo.
Illustrating the Rose Garden
Altering reality to make this rose garden look like an illustration was my next task.
While the roses seemed to shrink and fade with the Pen I filter, the textures of the concrete benches and wood fence sharpened, and the clouds became splashes of blue.
Filtered view from the outside with painted clouds
Red brick path to a concrete bench in the far corner with a solitary wood birdhouse on the right.
I decided to illustrate myself into the scene with a selfie, the way we did in the ‘70s – point the camera at yourself and hope you got more than your eyes. At least in 2022, we get instant digital feedback. One of my best attempts was when I accidentally gave myself horns with the metal sculpture in the background. But look, no wrinkles. A brave woman I had seen minutes earlier carrying her baby through the bee-heavy garden row by row was part of the background.
This little rose garden haven was created by a community rose enthusiast and nationally recognized rosarian and is now maintained by a foundation his wife created in his name. It feels like a place created with love. It has over 130 varieties of roses and 450 rosebushes.
As far as alternative realities go, this was a successful, but brief experiment. No one can live in a magnificent rose garden every day but visiting this oasis for an hour, being surprised by the god of war in dog form, and pretending to be in a painting, was rejuvenating.