photobook | sunken gardens, st. petersburg

I am not a sunbather, I am not functional midday. I do not like the echoing vibrations of sunlight sweating off the pavement or needles of heat penetrating my pores and expelling the moisture from my organs. It takes a special surrounding to rouse me from 11am AC hibernation, like a garden alive with rushing trickling ponds and flowers reminding me of pasta shells & trumpets.

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Beachgoers are an advanced breed of human being, Homo salt-ian, perhaps, bereft of heat-sensors in their skin or leastwise capable of producing mental sunblock. I’m Florida-bred, but perhaps a bit of the Midwestern affinity to chill – if that’s a genetic characteristic passed through a parentage from lands of snowy winters – streaks in my veins and valves. 23 years (shit, almost 24) in 90%+ humidity & searing direct sunlight for 4 or so months of the year hasn’t quelled my disdain towards summer. Or maybe it’s because I was born in December. Winter’s child. Who knows.

I’d prefer to bank my outdoor escapades for the months when the air is less phlegmy, but another demon not wholly atmospheric swarms in the cooler seasons: tourists. Trekking through nature should, for me, involve as much silence as can be accumulated. I venture into the wild when my brain needs a break from white noise, needs company but not necessarily from humanity, from that which lives but neither speaks nor comprehends English. From October-November forth, Florida warps into an overcrowded beehive with nightmarishly buzzing interstates. August is a bit more sluggish, so I braved the oven for a bit of outdoor therapy. Sunken Gardens can lend to any soul an inclination towards botany. The plantlife here is heavy with quirks: twists & knobs in unexpected folds of tree branches, bulbous fuchsia marbles tapering into convoluted yet charming triangles, watery hiccups halting the steady pour of a fall into a warbling pond, the ripples surging about a neon-violet bud unfazed by the current. Sure, the sudden squawk of stray children burst through the peaceful environmental voices, but with such a fusion of other leafy conversations pulsing above the clatter I could hardly dwell. The gardens tickle 100 years in age – listen to your elders, they say, and so I did. These olden citizens tell me to be patient and rather than rushing towards calmer air, risking hurt, to instead step aside and let the noise pass. So I huddled by the neighborly ferns and waited for the stampede’s end. A good lesson for life from just a humble green bush.

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