Journaling in Olbrich Courtyard

Olbrich Courtyard

Olbrich Courtyard © 2011 Bo Mackison

Journal Notes, written while eating lunch, at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, taking a mid morning break from another garden photo shoot:

…white metal faux wicker tables and chairs, stone crock on each table, centerpiece, holds succulents, thick and fleshy. I think of the word durable when I think of succulents. Not hardy, the term often applied to plants, often an indication their tolerance for cold or heat. Durable. They seem to tolerate hard use, sporadic care. Succulents – crinkled, velvety, twisted, icy green succulents. And they are thick and fleshy, not svelte and wispy — I like that.

I feel like the photographer’s equivalent of a bag lady, come to take root in this shaded courtyard. Fountain trickling nearby, people trickling in and out as they discover this hidden resting space. I unpacked my pockets. Lots of pockets. Tossed on my table — lens cap, lens brush, lens cloth, phone, notebook, pen, floppy hat. Peach wrapped in paper towels, a bottle of Vitamin Water, string cheese. Sunglasses.

I do not like to wear sunglasses. I bring them from habit. Mostly, they occupy my hands, I never have them on long enough to protect my eyes. I remove my sunglasses constantly — so I can see a flower, see a path, see a shot — clearly, not through a polarized layer of dark. I hook them onto the neck of my shirt, then forget them ’til they fall and need retrieval or until the sun glare makes me squint. I do like to play with my sunglasses. I spin them by one arm – whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, like an off-balance Ferris wheel. I take them off and put them on a hundred times. No, I do not like to wear sunglasses — I cannot see when I wear them.

And it is all about seeing…

Yesterday I discovered an alternative to both sunglasses and the sunscreen that I hate to put on my face. Ick. Goo. Found an end-of-the-year bargain. A very wide, very floppy, very black hat that has 50 SPF protection from the sun in its fibers. (How do they do that!)

I imagine how I appear, though it’s doubtful anyone else notices “the photographer.” This woman in her 50s, a frequent visitor, always has her camera gear, spends hours walking around, examining everything closely, taking photos, lots of photos. She dresses mostly in black three seasons a year. (Summer requires casual clothes, lighter and cooler colors.) Today she wears a big black floppy hat, looks like the ones worn by movie stars in the 50s.

Ah, maybe I am not the movie star, but the paparazzi!  Ha.

Garden’s quiet now. Here in the courtyard, at least. Going to close my eyes for ten minutes and listen to the fountain, the trickling water.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Gardening, photographing gardens, writing in her journal. Enjoying a few week break before autumn art fairs begin.


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Love the image I’m carrying of you in your floppy incognito hat as the paparazzi. Such a wonderful journal entry!!!

  2. What wonderful writing! The image of you in your hat, flipping your sunglasses ’round and ’round is vivid, and I can hear the trinkling water. Aaahhhhhhh………..bliss, Bo! Bliss!

  3. Looks like a nice quiet place.

  4. I felt as if I were sitting right beside you — with your floppy hat, playing with your sunglasses. Oh how I can relate to your journal entry…

  5. Joanne Keevers says:

    Bo, I need a hat! Thank you for this inspiration. I too dislike wearing sunglasses, although I always do so, as the sun is so bright and I squint in the sunlight. But when the glasses come off, the colours in everything become vivid and natural.

    Yes, a big floppy hat is just the thing! Any reason why you favour black? I wear nearly all pink and maroon tones, with a few white and black items. Funny how we get so set in our ways when we reach a certain age. 🙂

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