Archive for botanical garden

New Moon

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2012 by javedbabar

It was almost dawn and the moon was setting. Sami was tired from his long night “working” with Guru Baba, which involved watching, discussing and walking in boggy fields beneath the full moon.

The last surprise was meeting his shadow, which equated to the dark side of the orb fast disappearing. Whether visible or invisible, it was always there, beyond the dusty cratered surface. Sami’s soul too was thus composed, of light and dark.

Something shifted at the precise spot where the moon was setting. A dark spot seemed to shiver.

Sami was intrigued by this occurrence, and also frightened. The strange events of the night had been thrilling but unsettling. Nothing was what it seemed.

Sami looked at Guru Baba for reassurance. His holy bossman gave him a quirky look – his eyebrows moving in opposite directions, and his bottom lip curling as if sad. He said, “There’s someone else you should also meet. I meant to call him, but it seems that he has come of his own accord.”

Sami now realised that the shivering spot was a man walking towards them. Moonlight bent around, giving him a ghostly glow; he seemed a lunar apparition; a moon mirage. There was something familiar about his gait. Sami had seen him before. His white goatee was a further clue…

It was the man who had founded Lucerne’s Botanical Gardens, a controversial figure known only as The Gardener. He had without doubt created a fine facility for Lucerne’s citizens; the Botanical Gardens were five acres of wonder. There was a main path and there were countless sub-paths, leading to different habitats; the Amazon Rainforest was filled with mysterious fertility; the Egyptian Oasis was a cool, calm haven; the Babylonian Hanging Gardens were so vibrant that it felt like you were in an ancient cartoon book; other mysterious areas were filled with strange flora and fauna including, it was said, walking trees and flying flowers, and unicorns and golden monkeys.

The Gardener approached them. He greeted them warmly and then stood beside Guru Baba. They admired the full moon together.

“How are the gardens?” asked Guru Baba.

“You should come and see for yourself,” said the Gardener. “Where are you these days? I haven’t seen you for weeks.”

“I have visited a few times,” said Guru Baba. “But you’re always so busy with your students. How are they doing?” He turned to Sami and said, “Have you visited the Botanical Gardens recently? You haven’t? What a shame!”

Sami knew that he was ribbing him. Working as Guru Baba’s assistant rarely left a moment spare. Tonight was a perfect example; he was “working all night.”

The Gardener said, “The Extreme Gardening course is progressing well. It is a ten year course, and if all goes to plan we’ll soon be ready for mankind’s next adventure.”

“What do you mean?” asked Sami.

“We are developing new methods for purifying air, growing crops, encouraging insects and plants to develop healthy ecosystems, building a sustainable atmosphere, and seeding hydrographic systems. Within ten years the technology will be ready, and ten years after that, well, humans will be living on other planetary bodies.”

“Will we still be around then?” asked Guru Baba.

“I don’t think that we will, my old friend.”

Guru Baba turned to his assistant and said, “It will be down to you, Sami. Are you ready to be the Man in the Moon?”

Archway

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie loved wandering in the Botanical Garden; it was a great way to wind down after work. She knew the main path well, but there were always new side-trails appearing. She often crossed paths with this haven’s creator, The Gardener, and young crews who, he said, were studying Extreme Gardening.

She’d been upset by her argument with Danny. Last night had started well. He’d bought a cheap but surprisingly good wine; they’d cooked together, watched a movie and gone to bed. After making love, he’d brought up the subject of marriage. God knows why. Wasn’t that the girl’s job? He’d said, “Sophie, do you want to be with me forever?”

She’d said, “Let’s take it slowly, love. We’re only just getting to know each other.”

After a brief silence, he’d said, “But don’t you think that when you know, you know?”

“Well, maybe, but I don’t know yet.” That had been the end of the conversation and the start of the fight.

Sophie saw an arch in the distance, covered with red flowers. It appealed to her anger, and she walked towards it. What kind of flowers were these? Their petals seemed as if made of glass. She was afraid to touch them in case they shattered. Their red was hot, evoking power and anger, also passion and danger, and blood.

Sophie sat in the garden for a while. The sun appeared from behind dark clouds and the flowers on the arch seemed to change colour. They were now yellow, making Sophie think of summer, gold and joy, and the wheatfields of her uncle’s farm in the prairies, where she’d spent so many childhood summers. Wasn’t it amazing how colours changed your moods?

The sun continued its daily journey, now slipping beneath the tree canopy. There was a new coolness and freshness. The flowers on the arch appeared to be green. What neat shadowplay there was in this part of the garden. These strange verdant flowers cast a spell of fertility upon her filled with health and youth, and if it was too late for that, at least renewal.

The sun dipped below the horizon. Sophie realized that she’d been here from six to ten pm – four hours! She better get home; she rose to exit the garden.

The flowers on the arch now seemed blue; the colour of sea, sky and mountains, also of deep space. It was a colour that brought peace to her soul. Calm. Stability. Harmony. A colour of acceptance of the larger things in life; awareness that she was a tiny character in a vast cosmic story.

As she passed through the archway, she saw movement ahead. Danny was rushing towards her.

He said, “Where were you, babe? I’ve been looking for hours. I was worried.”

“I’ve been here,” she said.

“You missed dinner. I couldn’t get hold of you. I feared the worst.”

She looked at him with kindness. He really cared for her.

He calmed quickly and said, “For some reason I thought you might be here.”

The archway’s colours had transferred from the outer world to her inner realms. She said, “You were right. Now I know.”

Extreme Gardening

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Organic Farming, Unknown with tags , , , , , , on June 9, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama wanted to turn his life around. He had escaped from his life of crime in the City and found this peaceful village, but had yet to find a job. The opportunities were all in Strattus, half an hour away; the only jobs available in Lucerne were working in the grocery or hardware stores for ten bucks an hour. He would rather go back to robbing kids and selling drugs. There was also seasonal farm work, which paid about the same, but was outdoors and you got fresh produce. He might try that if he was still here in the summer.

He spent most of his time in the forest hunting rabbits and grouse, which he ate himself, and sometimes deer, which provided some income. He also hung around village cafes, getting coffee refills. When he discovered the Botanical Garden, he began to spend time there. He found inexplicable joy in the garden, especially in its Prime Indigenous Areas – the Amazon Rainforest filled with mysterious fertility; the Egyptian Oasis, a cool, calm haven; the Babylonian Hanging Gardens were so vibrant it felt like you were in an ancient cartoon book. It was amazing that there was no entry charge.

Shama saw workers toiling in many parts of the garden. They hardly said a word to each other, and rarely acknowledged visitors. This was a pleasant change from the village, where everybody wanted to know your business. He wanted nobody to know his business. The Botanical Garden suited him well.

One day a voice from behind him said, “I hope that you are enjoying our Garden. We take our duty here very seriously. We make every effort to ensure it thrives.”

“Yes, I like it,” said Shama. Who was this man, he wondered, with his gold-white beard and green suit? He’d heard the creator of this place was called The Gardener. Maybe this was him.

The man said, “I’ve seen you many times during the daytime. Are you working at present?” Shama felt nervous at the man’s intrusion but told him the truth; he was struggling to make a living in Lucerne.

“Have you considered studying gardening? It is the first of all human arts.”

Shama said wasn’t cave-painting the first?

“No, that’s not true. Gardening came before cave-painting, fire-making, and hunting with weapons. Where do you suppose natural colours came from, and kindling, and beasts?”

“I’m not sure what you mean,” said Shama. “They all come from the earth of course.”

“Yes that’s true, young man, as far as it goes. But there’s much we can teach you here that will benefit you, and the world. Why don’t you enrol for our next programme? It won’t cost you a penny. All of our students are fully funded by The Authority; it knows the true value of our education.”

Shama indicated the workers digging and planting nearby. “Can’t you offer me a job like those people? My need right now is for money, and I was never good at school anyway.”

The Gardener smiled and stroked his beard. “Young man, education always comes before money. Improve your mind and cash comes running, guaranteed! Those workers are all students too. After a month of successful study we offer them a five-year work/study contract, and as their skills develop, so does their pay. Rest assured, none are earning minimum wage, and they love their work.”

Even though it was getting dark, and an early moon was apparent, their pace did not slacken. “What do you teach them, and what work do they do?”

“They are enrolled on the B.Sc. Extreme Gardening course, affiliated with Luna University. In their first year they study Taxonomy, Plant Pathology, Soil Health, Entomology, Multicultural Landscaping, Sustainable Gardening, Nuisance Wildlife Management, and Integrated Pest Control.”

“All in the first year?” said Shama. “What about the other four years?”

“They are all dedicated to Impact Gardening. They learn the process by which impact events stir the outermost crusts of celestial objects; these erode over time to form the first soils on planets, from which life evolves. As I said, gardening is the first human art.”

Shama said, “I’m still confused about the order of things…”

“When our last home was threatened, humans terraformed earth; the soil we created made life here possible. Now our planet is threatened again, we must begin elsewhere.” He pointed up to the moon. “As a cosmic being, are you ready for your next challenge?”

Litterbug

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by javedbabar

After work Sophie often went for a stroll in the Botanical Garden. The West Coast flora belonged there of course, but the Amazonian Rainforest, Egyptian Oasis, and Babylonian Hanging Gardens had been nurtured by the Zoological Society of Lucerne. Still, once they were established, they would develop interrelated environmental factors and form a functioning ecosystem. She loved pristine nature, even if it was in the wrong place.

Nature wasn’t always pretty, she knew, but it was perfectly self-regulating. A thin layer of gases, held in place by gravity, were the key active factor sustaining the planetary ecosystem. They allowed life on earth. The price of that life was the occasional hurricane, tornado, tsunami, and flood (in addition to geological effects like earthquakes and volcanic explosions), but beneficial atmospheric effects outweighed harmful ones. Life hung in a fine balance though; living organisms interacted with other elements in local environments, and must be careful not to overwhelm them.

Sophie noticed a man standing on the main path ahead of her. He was fumbling in all his pockets for something, which he found in his left hand trouser pocket. He withdrew a packet of cigarettes, unwrapped the cellophane, and threw it on the floor. He flipped the lid off the pack, withdrew a cigarette, flicked his lighter, lit up and began puffing.

Sophie couldn’t stop herself – she ran right towards him and said, “Excuse me; I think you’ve dropped something.”

The man had seen her running towards him, and rather than smile – either innocently or with embarrassment – he had stared at her breasts bouncing. He said, “No I haven’t.”

Yes you have,” said Sophie insistently. “You’ve dropped something.”

“I don’t think so,” said the man and turned away, and took a long draw of his cigarette.

“I saw you unwrap your cigarettes and throw the plastic covering on the ground.”

The man turned to face her. “So what? It’s not your business. If you don’t like it, why don’t you pick it up?”

Sophie didn’t back down. He saw she was fuming and tried another tack. “It’s biodegradable. I think it says on the…”

Here was a chance to engage further; he was stepping back; they could negotiate; end things nicely together.

Sophie’s confidence was due to her being a practitioner of One-Do, a rediscovered martial art. It integrated all other styles into a higher level of performance. She was scared of no one, not even if they held a weapon. The mind of a One-Do master triumphed over physical threats every time.

However Sophie was not yet a master. Her one year of training had made her a next-level novice. There was no real hierarchy in One-Do. Just levels and next levels.

“Throwing litter is disgusting!” she shouted. “It ruins the environment. You’re disgusting! Some people improve the places they visit. You make them worse. You’re a disgusting person!” She stormed off before she’d have to hit him. The man was bemused by her ferocity but continued smoking.

The Botanical Garden’s creator, known as The Gardener, had observed these events from the far end of the main path. He called his pupil Sophie over, and said, “Watch this.” He whispered something to the small silver monkey on his left shoulder, and it jumped up into the trees.

A moment later, the disgusting man was hit by a banana, then a coconut, and then a heavy palm frond fell right on his head. His cigarette and his life were extinguished. It was a natural occurrence. It seemed inevitable. This is the way of One-Do.

Fading

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Global Travel, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2012 by javedbabar

It was surprising how few people enjoyed the Botanical Garden. Danny was often alone there, or maybe there were other people around but in different sections – the Amazonian Rainforest or Egyptian Oasis areas, or in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, though these were being regenerated after the recent war. Anyway it was a shame that more people didn’t make better use of Lucerne’s wonderful amenity.

Danny had first met Sophie – with her long arms and legs, black hair and big brown eyes – at the seed fixture, and their date at the garden’s cafe had gone very well; he often saw the green-suited founder of the place, known as The Gardener, strolling around. But apart from some young rascals running between bushes, that was it in terms of regular visitors.

He spotted a new guy strolling along the main path and said hello. The next day he saw him again, and said hello again. The new guy didn’t look too well. Maybe he was recovering from illness and taking a stroll daily for his health. He moved with hesitation and his responses to Danny’s greetings were slow. Danny also imagined that he could be mentally sub-normal, or maybe depressed. He couldn’t enquire about these things of course; it would be considered most rude.

One day the man really looked terrible. His skin was greenish and his greeting was more slurred than usual. Danny said, “Excuse me, are you feeling all right?”

The man stopped struggling to walk and stood beside Danny. He said, “Yes I feel okay, thanks pal.” But this was difficult to believe when he was green and trembling, with froth forming on his lips.

There was a crash in the bushes and some cries for help. It must be those boys mucking about again, thought Danny. They’ll hurt themselves.

The man said to Danny, “Listen pal, I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you don’t look so good either. Your skin seems green and you’re shaking.”

“That’s funny,” said Danny. “That’s what I noticed about you. Maybe we should leave this section of the garden; there may be allergens here. Are you allergic to pollens or spores? I suffer from severe hay fever but I’m not sneezing. It could…”

“Look at those caterpillars,” said the man, pointing to yellow and black-striped bugs the size of his thumb. “I’ll bet one touch of those would make you break into a sweat. I picked one up when I was a kid and it…”

Danny wasn’t paying attention to what the man said. His eyes opened wider as the man reduced in intensity, became transparent, and faded away. Was it a trick of the light, or of his eyes? Where had he gone? Was this a joke?

Then he noticed that his own hands had disappeared. A moment later he was no longer in the Botanical Garden.

Danny was back in a bed in Lucerne Village Medical Centre. Misalignment of satellites had caused his signal to break up, and neither his, nor other patients’, virtual retinal projections could be sustained. He was just another client of the centre’s Permanent Life Enhancement unit. He would never walk or talk again, but once the satellites were realigned, he could at least continue to enjoy the garden.

Excuse Me Please

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Unknown with tags , , , , , , on May 29, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny had a lunch date with Sophie at the Botanical Garden’s new cafe. Ever since he’d met her at the seed fixture, he’d been feeling crazy. Her long arms and legs, black hair and big brown eyes, were all he thought about.

He got there early and found a table for two. He put a copy of the local free rag, The Answer, on his seat and went to the counter. The raw soup looked good, so did the organic sandwiches, but he’d wait to eat till she arrived. He got a fair trade coffee and returned to his table. Where was his table? It seemed to have disappeared. Then he spotted The Answer still sitting on his seat, and on the chair opposite was a woman in a blue-flowered dress, filing her nails.

“Excuse me,” said Danny. “This table is taken. I just went to get a coffee.”

She ignored him and continued filing her nails. He repeated, “Excuse me, this table is taken. I’m sitting here.”

“Go right ahead,” she said in a voice like gargling breadcrumbs. “Sit there. I’m sitting here.”

Danny had worked as a teacher, and was not easily riled. He said, “But I’m meeting someone. They’re coming along soon. I need a table for two.”

“Well no one’s here now. This seat was free.” The woman turned away from him as if that was the end of the conversation.

Now he got angry. “Look lady, I’ve got a lunch date. This table is taken already. Can’t you sit somewhere else?” She held her nails to the light to examine them, but said nothing.

He said, “Look, you don’t even have a drink. This isn’t a street shelter.” He felt mean as he said this, but was in no mood for retraction. Besides, she wasn’t homeless; she was wearing a nice blue dress, and applying coral nail polish. She was just being difficult.

They sat in stalemate – he sipping coffee, and she continuing to redden her fingertips, which looked like little bloody skewers. Eventually she said, “So where is this lunch date of yours? I presume it’s a woman. It doesn’t look like she’s coming.” Now Danny said nothing. “Anyway, why should groups be more important than single people? We can sit where we want, you know.”

Ahh, thought Danny, so that’s it. She saw a guy by himself and was hoping to hook up, and is now annoyed. He was sorry if she was lonely but that wasn’t his fault or business. “Look, we’re not a couple, we’re single people too, but if all goes well, we may become a couple. Why don’t you…”

Just then Sophie arrived. “So sorry I’m late,” she said, and smiled at the interloper. “I see you’ve brought a friend.”

“She’s no friend of mine,” said Danny. “She stole your seat. She won’t go.”

There was an awkward silence, and Sophie said, “Danny, why don’t you get me a coffee, and sorry, what’s your name? Alli? And get Alli one too. Well, don’t keep us ladies waiting. Off you go.”

Danny was dumbstruck. Both women stared at him. He had no choice but to go. What was this Sophie playing at? he wondered.

Sophie believed in the Law of Attraction. This woman is here for a reason, she thought. Let’s find out why.

During the course of the afternoon, Sophie and Danny discovered that Alli was never given seats as a child. Bags and coats appeared on them suddenly as she approached. Now she sought out seats and never gave them up willingly. People were like that; they were weak, distrustful characters. Her family were Luddites who had chosen not to have their children enhanced with microchips, the reason that Alli was unable to connect with anyone around her. Almost everybody was integrated by internal social media; she was always alone.

Danny and Sophie yearned to be different. This was their chance. Imagine telling their friends all about meeting Alli.

Coco de Mer

Posted in Lucerne Village, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny liked wandering through the Botanical Garden. He had visited most days since it had opened, either before or after work. The Zoological Society of Lucerne had done a good job with the garden; it had become a popular landmark to the extent that you were more likely to hear local people saying “See you at the garden,” than “See you at the pub.”

The latest addition to the complex was the garden shop. Danny liked its library, which contained unusual volumes like “Arid Gardening for Apocalyptic Times,” and “Return to Iram” (by flicking through which he discovered that Iram in Arabic meant paradise; it was a book about creating classical Islamic gardens). He became fascinated by seeds, which were the source of the wonders he witnessed in the garden daily; he was pleased when the shop created a dedicated seed fixture, and browsed it on most visits.

He saw a container of orchid seeds, such tiny things that produced rare beauty. Each was a treasure, a generator of wonder and untold possibilities. His mother had loved orchids. She kept them near the kitchen window, their tall stems reaching bravely, arching for light. When he was young he’d thought their buds each contained an eye to watch over him when his mother was away. Instead they bloomed into black and purple lips.

A woman came and stood beside him. He saw her black hair, her long arms and legs, but most of all her eyes. They were the eyes he’d imagined would bloom from the orchid buds, huge and brown.

“Is that a seed?” she asked him. She said it casually, like you would to a best friend. He followed her pointing finger, indicating a huge thing like a black man’s bottom, but pointed and flattened.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I guess it must be.” He leaned towards the fixture and read, “Coco de Mer. It says it’s the world’s largest seed.” He continued reading. “Most plants generate many small seeds to disperse widely, which travel by wind, water, and via animal fur and scat. But some put all their energy into a few large seeds, which tend to stay within the local area, closer to home.”

“Which kind are you?” she said, smiled, and walked away.

Danny was taken by surprise. Was she coming on to him, he wondered? Was she asking if he was still sowing his wild oats indiscriminately, or ready to settle down? He became restless and took a turn around the garden. He hoped to glimpse her walking away, to admire her from a distance, but she had disappeared somewhere into the garden.

The Gardener was strolling along the main path. Danny asked if he’d seen the woman. He said, “Can’t say that I have. Why do you ask? Did she make you wish to pollinate?”

He saw Danny’s red face and added, “Only kidding. I remember what it was like when I first saw my wife. I knew she was the one for me. Till then I had been lying dormant, awaiting optimal conditions to synchronize germination.” He often spoke in horticultural terms, which intrigued and sometimes confused Danny. The Gardener continued, “She was probably wondering if you were an orchid seed or a Coco de Mer. Dormancy is a state of the seed, not the environment.”

Danny said, “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Well, plants and animals have many similarities. The one that I find most telling is present from inception. A plant’s embryo has two points of growth – the root and the stem, and grows from the centre outwards. Similarly, humans grow in two ways also – physically and spiritually. Orchid seeds are tiny and have no nutrient supply, relying on soil fungi for growth. However the Coco de Mer has invested many resources in seed production, and provides everything needed to survive. This is what I found with my wife. She was an independent soul, and together we became interdependent souls. When she died I created this garden, to remain entwined forever.”

The next day at the seed fixture, Danny was looking at winter cherries and winter bananas, when he felt a presence at his side. It was the woman with the big brown eyes. She asked him, “Which seed do you like?”

He said, “Coco de Mer.”

She said, “It seems quite heavy. Shall I help you?”