Sometimes, you’ve just got to get outta Dodge. Today, after several nights of sub-zero temperatures that didn’t improve much in daylight hours, my husband Jack and I said “hold enough” and broke the car out of its relatively warm spot in the garage to head for Mill Creek Park. No, we had no intention of spending much time there – certainly not in the great outdoors – but we knew the remodeled gift shop in the visitor center has reopened and the orchids are still on display, and that was enough of an incentive for us to brave the cold.
Had the sun been shining, we’d have ventured far enough to see the frozen waterfall at Lanterman’s Mill, but the mere thought of walking down an icy hiking path (albeit a short one) just to get a gloomy shot had no appeal whatsoever. No, we said, we’ll stick with the visitor center and maybe the Lily Pond (and anything in between) and then go find a cozy place for lunch.
And so it was. The orchids got most of our attention in the visitor center, but the Antonucci Horticulture Library was open as well, so I ventured in. The view from the sunny windows always catches my eye – as it did today – and it was nice to see the children’s section set up once again (just love the alphabet rug). I also got a few shots of the pretty amaryllis blooms placed here and there (one of my favorite flowers to photograph, BTW, although I prefer the bright red ones).
After that, I wandered through the gift shop. Although there’s plenty of really neat merchandise here now, the new focus, according to the park powers that be, is on providing more garden-related items such as live plants, fairy gardens and ikebana vessels. I get the concept, but I really, really miss all the gorgeous jewelry I always stopped in to see (and buy, when I wanted a unique gift). Oh well, as they say, all good things must end (sigh!) – and hey, that gorgeous skylight still takes center stage in the ceiling even though the glass part has been covered. As for the merchandise, it’s still lovely – the shop sort of reminds me of a Crate and Barrel store.
The Garden Cafe still isn’t open, and we got no word on when that might happen; the sign still says it will happen in early February, but methinks we’re a bit past that point by now. So on that front, stay tuned – we’ll keep an eye out and, once it opens, post an update after we’ve given it a try.
As I reluctantly left the visitor center dreading the cold, I walked past the beautiful flower fountain just inside the front entrance and stopped to get a few photos. Back in the car, Jack pointed its nose down the road past Lake Glacier, stopping next to the near-frozen waterfall. Despite the lack of sunshine, it was just beautiful. We drove on up to the Lily Pond, but by that time the sky had turned even grayer (if that’s possible) and like the waterfall, our photographic juices simply stopped flowing. Besides that, our stomachs were growling (even after 53 years of marriage, I’m here to tell you it’s not necessarily in unison). Remembering the weekday $5 lunches at Barry Dyngles, we left the park and headed toward Raccoon Road in Austintown. A couple of Happy Hour brewskies (for the one of us riding shotgun), one brisket and one barbecue chicken sandwich later, and it was home again, home again, jiggedy jig!
Now, as I reflect on our travels, I’m doubly glad we made the effort to get out. The weather gurus are saying it will drop to -14 degrees F. tonight (that’s the “real” temperature, folks, not with the wind chill factored in). And as I write this, a thankfully short-lived white-out of snow just stopped. Ah, the joys of winter in northeastern Ohio!