So, the place looks like it might be a pretty nice place for a
picnic -- level lawn, plenty of shade, and a pleasant little waterfall
that provides a bit of scenery and ambiance. But then, the
facilities are pretty
minimal, it's no tourist destination, and the only occupants of the
park were three other people (one of which was obviously homeless, the
other two were harder to tell).
And then, there's this sign. I mean, the park was pretty
small. And now, it turns out, half the park is off limits -- more
or less the good half.
And it obviously wasn't always the case (to my eyes, at least) that this part of the park was off limits, as this
rock formation looks like the ideal 'staircase' to go up and explore
the upper stream bed.
Anyhow, I couldn't go up there, so I took this picture. And
probably about here, right here, is were I decided I'd try to make some
kind of fictional story based on my outing (perhaps I'd use the
pictures, or rather, of
course I'd use the pictures). And maybe I'd be able to salvage
and get a 'project' out of it yet. So, in other words, this is
where the 'story' starts in earnest (so be prepared for lots of
divergence from reality
here on out).
These off limit places are usually there for the 'protection' of
both the attraction and the visitors. So, like, in other words, the terrain is
fragile, lots of folks walking over it would strip it of vegetation,
and so, keeping everyone out is a good idea from a preservational
standpoint. And then, it's hazardous. The ground may look even and level, but
it's not -- there's plenty of ways to break a leg or twist one's ankle hidden in the scrub.
And add in the dangers of flash floods, riptides, eddies, and
other weird watery currents (primarily after a rain when the water is a little higher)
and it's easy to imagine that there have been a few (or more than a
few) deaths in close proximity to the waterfall. I mean, come on, doesn't it sound like fun
(and really-really dangerous) to slide over the falls during peak water
conditions on a surf board or something. And I'm sure more than one kid has lost their life that
way. Back in Walnut Creek, CA, I hear tell two kids died in the
city lined canals (what used to be the creek there) as they took a
rubber raft down the sloughs... until it flipped and they hit their
heads on the concrete bottom or something. Anyhow, same thing has
probably happened here at one time or another. But it's just a
theory. I'm just playing the odds. Certainly, I'm not going
to search through city records to find anything out.
at the time (in the moment), what caught my eye was the tree.
Clearly (in story) it was the tree that had been cordoned off.
Or, we have this unconnected pipe. So, maybe there's some
hazardous chemical leak or something and that's why there's an 'Off
Limits' sign posted.
Or maybe the trouble is more human in nature. Have I
mentioned the three (possibly) homeless folks. I wanted to turn them into
Fates (Guardians of the Falls or something for the story), but I don't know enough
Hawaiian History to pull that sort of thing off. Still, my mind
was (and usually is) working towards the supernatural... and then,
there's always sex. Off limits, full of graffiti, condom wrapper
on the ground, it seemed likely this place had known it's fair
share of illicit parties, so maybe human sacrifice or satanic ritual.
And here we have the condom wrapper, the danger sign, and a small plant
all positioned next to one another. The plant is evil in some
way, clearly. I've suffered from more than my share of Poison Ivy
over the years and I can say with due authority that some plants are
evil. They say none of the ones in Hawaii are. But then,
why all the signs? The need for Guardians? And all the rest?
So, sex and trees and maybe human sacrifice, but that's not much to
go on. So, I was now actively looking for clues -- items in the Real
that would give clarify and Focus to my story. A playing card was
what I found next.
A whole bunch of them that formed a sort of trail... a trail that
lead to a dead end. But it was enough to get me off and running.
I was looking for a story. And this story (if there is one)
is the story of that search for a story. That's why it's called
Gilding the Lily. I was
trying to gild (turn into gold, if you
will) my trip to Lili'uokalani Botanical Garden (from which comes the
Lily). And with that sort of methodology, you can bet
there are going to be a lot of dead ends and false
starts on the way. Hopefully, your mind will fill in the blanks
and take it all further than I do here... or maybe you'll just
enjoy following along in my footsteps as I recreate them here. Or
like your metaphors a little more brazen, like playing cards thrown to
the wind, we shall flip each over in turn and see where they lead
-- some will be good and some we shall simply discard.
As I think back on my walk, I often visualize two detectives talking back and forth as they work on the
case. There have been a few murders (deaths, whatever, but call it murder for now) down by the tree and they're trying to
piece it all together.
And the one says something like, "Playing
cards, I wonder what they mean."
And the other (the cynical one)
replies, "They're cards. It means someone was playing cards --
probably poker -- and they lost, so they threw the lot into the air.
Come on, we got a case to solve. Let's check out the
bridge," because cynical or not, he knows Trolls live under bridges and
they're a blood thirsty lot them Trolls.
Only compared to where I was standing the area under the bridge looked amazingly clean and
debri free. So (perhaps for that reason), I dropped the Troll
idea pretty quickly. (And in fact, the cards never lead anywhere
either -- just a momentary metaphor, another dead end -- as is suitable for a murder mystery, I would say).
Though, in retrospect, being bitten by a mosquito might have been where
that whole 'bloodthirsty' thing originated. It certainly was about
there and then (whilst being bitten by a mosquito) that I decided this
park was a hole. In fact that word ('Hole') came to be how I
referred to the park in my mind: Lili'uokalani Botanical Garden = 'HOLE'.
Of course, that's pretty harsh and comparing it to the
neighborhood parks of my youth, the Lili'uokalani Botanical Garden
would come out on top by a long shot -- what we would have done for a
So, this is a shot from the other side of the bridge, looking back
over the upper lawn to where a security guard (or something) is walking
down an access ramp. Never did see him walk out. Add his
presence to the graffiti, three homeless folks, the condom, and
all the rest, and the place
was feeling a bit unfriendly.
And here, I'll omit the pictures
of the homeless and or patrons of the park. I take a lot of
pictures when I'm walking (as I may have mentioned). And one of
the reasons is to study them later. I use a camera with a
12x zoom optical zoom and then add the digital enlarge on the computer,
and I figure they're as good as binoculars
-- enough so, that I could tell you one of the homeless guys was
carrying around a spray
bottle of 'Resolve' for one reason or another and the other two looked
well enough dressed
(clean, presentable) that although they sported shopping bags and
looked more like a couple that had stopped in the park for a
rest or a picnic of their way home. So, like everywhere
a mix of the good and the bad. But all I really
knew at this point (before I studied the pictures in greater detail
with that digital zoom) was that things felt 'uncomfortable' and/or
'ominous' to me and that I
wasn't really getting anywhere on integrating the 'homeless' folks
as either Trolls or Gods of Old into the story.
at this point, I was hoping something good popped into my head
soon or I was going to have to blame those murders (and I was
pretty sure there
was some sort of murder at this point) on that one lonesome tree.
(((Note: while the pictures are real (as real as pictures can
get) all the text should be treated as fiction -- or at least,
Nothing has been fact checked. Things change.
And the truth sometimes only serves to get in the way of a
good story. Thus, taken as a whole, the web pages that
comprise this story should be viewed as a record of one
man's flight of fancy as he takes a walk on a long sunny
afternoon. Nothing more. Nothing less. And most
disrespect to any individual (living or dead) is intended.)))