Saturday, March 9, 2013

Celias Rainbow Garden

Quartzsite, AZ
Every since I first came to Quartzsite, I had been hearing about Celias Rainbow Garden.  It sounded hokey to me.  But finally, my last day in Quartzsite (Feb. 2012), I decided to check it out.  After all, her father is one of the most  memorable characters you could ever meet and he did entertain me at a concert he gave at the Quartzsite Improvement Association in February 2012.  And he entertained me every time I saw him riding through town on his bike, half dressed, and when he did the Spirit Walk of the Quartzsite Hi Jolly Cemetery.  So I figured it was time to see the Garden.

L: Paul Winer at Hi Jolly Cemetery, R: Paul in front of his bookstore.
I thought it would be morbid. 
Her parent/mother/father? wrote this on the above webpage:  “Celia was a miracle baby. Having tried to have a child for many years and being told it would never happen, I had given up trying and made peace with it. Then, out of the clear blue, I found myself pregnant at 37 years old. It was quite a shock for both of us. I found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve 1985, and before I had even had a chance to get into maternity clothes, Celia decided to make her entry on Good Friday, March 28, 1986. I was only 23¼ weeks pregnant, so when she was born, the doctors said she would not make it. She came into this world weighing only 670 grams or 1 ¼ pounds, and was Canada’s smallest surviving baby in both weight and gestation at that time. “
So, it’s got to be morbid, right?  But to my delight, it was a wonderful respite from the desert heat.  Trees and cactus have been planted, and an irrigation drip line has been installed so vegetation doesn’t dry up in the intense heat of the desert.  All sorts of people have come, not only to pay tribute to a small child’s short life, but to erect memorials of others who have gone before them.  I walked the curved paths in awe of the uniqueness of the Garden.
Words fail me, so I will just insert the photos, and add a description here and there.  But, if you are in Quartzsite, AZ… you might find a visit to the Garden to be surprisingly wonderful.  Wildlife also abounds there.  The trails and paths wind and twist between dozens of lovingly created memorials.
Near the entrance is this butterfly and a list of contributors.  The butterfly is made from pieces of obsidian, black, rainbow, and mahogany.
There are lots of places to stop and rest, this a mosaic bench… handmade.
I’ve never seen such lovingly designed memorials.
And so many desert plants, all preserved now.
Another resting place.
Dancing is a big thing in Quartzsite, and this memorial is made of black obsidian and white quartz.
One of my favorites… name of WAYNE spelled out with pieces of petrified wood, and the border is also petrified wood.
All petrified wood.
When we walked in the desert, I only looked at the surface of the landscape, while she looked right into it—she noticed all the smallest flowers, the ants, lizards and other things that I never did until she pointed them out to me. We used to sit and watch the ants moving in lines from one anthill to another all thy. It is amazing what you can see and learn if you look at things through the eyes of a child. It is a humbling experience.
After her death on October 25, 1995, we needed to find a way to give back to the community some of the love they had shown us. We got permission from the town council to plant a botanical garden in her memory in the town park in October of 1996, a year after her death. What started out as a small nature trail has grown over the past 6 years into a mosaic of beauty, like a patchwork quilt made by many loving hands and hearts.
Many groups have become involved in making the Gardens grow, and several RV parks have also adopted areas to landscape. Individuals and families have done many areas in their own special way. I think of the work as my grief therapy, and so do many others who are involved.
Last time I saw this collection is was at the Museum in town, but it has been moved to the Garden.  There is another row of buildings across the way from these.
It is really a wonderful place.  I came away feeling humbled and awestruck, even though I’m not a very “religious” person.
There is so much to see in the Gardens that it has amazed some people who have never seen it before. Those who have been there notice the changes every time they come back. It has become a labor of love for those of us who work there, and a tribute to everyone who is remembered. There is much more work to be done, and volunteers are always needed. When finished, this will be the largest, if not only, free botanical gardens in the state. It is one of the biggest volunteer projects in the area, and we love and appreciate everyone who has taken this project to their hearts.
For more information about Celia’s Rainbow Gardens, to volunteer, place a tree or bench, etc. in someone’s memory, or make a donation, please call Joanne at 927-6551. You can also visit the Reader’s Oasis Bookstore, and we will be happy to help you.  by Paul Winer.  (the above in italics is by Paul from his website)

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Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.