104: Ulixes

Latin: Proper noun: Ulixēs (genitive Ulixis); m, third declension – Odysseus (Ulysses).

I drove us twisty-turny and uppy-downy all the way to the City of Garlic, just to relive a decade-old childhood memory. Our family will always know it as “Bonfante Gardens” – because that’s what it is. It owes no particular allegiance to Gilroy. It’s a wonderful place – it’s not smelly, it’s only mildly overrun by kids, and there’s a delightful little train that you could outrun with a heavy backpack and irate sister in tow. The Banana Split, the Timber Twister, the Rock Maze, the Bonfante Falls, the Events Plaza, the San Juan restaurant, the Monarch Garden, the Quicksilver Express, the Mushroom Swing, the Rainbow Gardens, the car ride, and the train – we greeted them all as old friends and embraced warmly. Now that we are tall – and Bonfante Gardens is small – I finally realize how teeny-weeny our childhood world was. We could traverse the entire park in half an hour; we could drag it out for the whole day, yes, but a camelback tour would set us back an hour at the very most. Pre-lunch ice and actual-actual lunch took us an hour – easily the biggest contiguous time drain of our day.

Oh – but the gardens themselves are such lovely things. We took more pictures than I can sift through and fewer than I wished for. We went down proper into Claudia’s Garden today; that place possesses the highest photo-op density of any destination in the park.

The park is still clean – spotless! It was not at all the unpleasant pockmarked feeling that Great America gives off. It helps that there’s a modest sexiness in the layout and an unabashed voluptuousness in the greenery. It’s a place that Dad could retire to – he’d plunk a cabin down in the middle of the park, tucked away somewhere in a grove of trees. I would live there myself if they built a streetcar system. I would just love to commute to work on a streetcar – that’s real classy.

I rounded off my day in a lawn chair in our backyard, reclined all the way down. My eyes were trained on the night sky in search of the Perseid meteors, and my ears were open for marauding gangs of skunks ready to jump me. After a lot of false alarms, I decided that my final count three (around midnight) plus two (at 2 AM). That was when I gave up and fled from the skunk strike team that was surely surrounding the house.

I cannot describe the feeling properly; this paragraph and its sibling above are just reminders that I was here; I did this. I stared into the night sky and watched the stars manifest before me: I gazed upon the brilliant trail of stardust streaking across the planet and fizzing out without a sound. What better way than to enjoy the night sky from your backyard than in a rusty, half-strapless lawn chair?



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