It’s been a while since we’ve been anywhere aside from doctor appointments, thanks to COVID-19. Since things are opening back up — slowly — we were able to visit Bookworm Gardens with Jessica’s sister. For those in the Milwaukee area, it’s a lot like the Domes, except it’s outside (thus with only one biome, that of whatever Wisconsin picks that week) and filled with sculptures and art inspired by children’s literature.
Just a small sample of the familiar books we found were Jack and the Beanstalk, Horton, the Three Little Pigs, the Little House books, Winnie the Pooh, Stuart Little, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the Magic School Bus.
There were plenty new to us as well: Harry the Dirty Dog, Is Your Mama A Llama, and plenty more that I don’t remember. It took us quite some time to make our way around the whole thing. Even then, we realized we had missed some things, so we went part of the way around again.
There were plenty of things pulled not from books, precisely, but from imagination. Animals welded together from steelworks, for example. Animal planters, like cows, pigs, and chickens, that were home to more succulents than I’ve ever seen in one place, for another. There was also a large Koi pond — in both senses of the word. The pond was large, and some of the Koi fish were pretty large, too.
The employees at the gardens wore masks to help keep patrons safe, but that didn’t keep them from having story time. We happened along just in time for Namine to listen in on a reading of Harry the Dirty Dog.
Despite the gardens being for the most part “look, don’t touch,” there were some things that we could interact with. One such thing was a sandbox where dinosaur bones could be excavated. That seemed right up Namine’s alley, but there were quite a few children who felt the same way. (We moved on, not being inclined to let Namine play in a giant Petri dish.)
Another interactive area was where one could build a fairy house out of a giant wooden mushroom, sticks, gems, and other decorations. Given how much Namine loves fairies, how could she resist such things? This area, unlike the paleontology area, was spaced out enough such that Namine was able to be on her own.
If you’ll allow me to wax philosophical for a moment, I think there’s something wonderful and perhaps pensive about coming to a garden filled with life in the midst of a global pandemic. I believe it’s important to take the time to reflect on what we have, even those things which are intangible.
Many people are now coming to terms with a truth that we, as a special needs family (my apologies to those who dislike that term), have lived with for years. Namine is and has always been a fragile child. Her bones break easier than those of her peers; she is hospitalized by colds. That has not stopped us — it will not stop us — from appreciating the vibrancy and beauty of a difficult life. On the contrary, I think it helps us to appreciate each other all the more.