Time to Get Outside

Daffodils are blooming, children are playing in the street and really loud birds are singing outside my window so spring must have sprung. After being cooped up inside because of freezing temperatures and a little too much precipitation, I thought it would be nice to get out and enjoy the sunshine. One of my favorite destinations this time of year is the arboretum where I can commune with nature and sneeze with the flowers.

The United States National Arboretum, in Washington, DC, offers five mile full moon hikes once a month where you can explore the grounds at a time normally off limits. These events book up very quickly; at press time the hikes were full until June, so if you think you'd like to go you need to plan months ahead. The end of June will bring a special hike, the Blue Moon hike, which will feature legends about the blue moon as well as blue snacks. Frankly I'm pretty leery of blue food (blueberries being the exception) but if you're an adventurous snacker you'll want to grab a spot before they're gone.

Have you ever wondered what a fig leaf looked like and if it really fit the definition of clothing? Then you might want to take part in the Boyce Thompson Arboretum plants of the bible tour on April 1st or the 21st. Because the climate of the Holy Land is similar to that of Central Arizona, the collection is home to many plants mentioned in the Bible, from the pomegranate to the palm and olive trees. This tour is wheelchair accessible.

Continuing the ancient history theme, the Dinosaur State Park Arboretum features many plants dating from the Cretaceous and Mesozoic Eras. With a core collection of 200 different kinds of conifers they have everything from the Giant Sequoia to the Monkey Puzzle Tree. You can also see some dinosaur trackways while you're there, made by a carnivorous dinosaur and by Otozoum, a four toed beastie which left skin impressions along with its footsteps. The Park shows films on the weekends and this weekend you can watch Dinosaur, Step Into the Early Jurassic and The Amber Hunters, but remember what your mother used to say, you need to get out into the fresh air, not lie around in front of the television all day.

There's quite a bit going on at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest this weekend. (Isn't that a great name? I love the idea of all these trees in lab coats studying things…) Saturday March 31 and April 7 you can take part in a sculpture event where you'll be carving native limestone. You get to use power tools and be artistic at the same time. That's an excellent combination. Also on the 31st is a program for ages six and up called The Secret Forest. Kids will hear tree tales (possibly from the forest scientists?) as well as check out birds of prey and learn about the native flora and fauna. April second brings the full "fish moon" night hike and stargazing party, which goes on even if it's too cloudy to see the stars. The hike goes around Lake Nevin and begins at approximately sunset. The website doesn't say why it's called the fish moon but I looked it up for you and discovered that the fish moon is the first full moon in spring, when the shad swim upstream to spawn.

The San Francisco Botanical Gardens at Strybing Arboretum is having a children's story time and family walk called Everything's Coming Up Roses on Sunday April 1st. The following Tuesday you can take a class in how to make and use biodiesel. I imagine that is an incredibly useful class that could serve you well in the case of some sort of Mad Maxian apocalypse. On the 13th you can attend something called Treasures of Japan: Temples, Castles and Classical Gardens. Who can resist castles? Certainly not I. You might want to find out how to build your own in anticipation of the aforementioned apocalypse. While the rest of the world is in shambles you can kick back behind your castle walls, running your generator on biodiesel and still enjoy ice cream, hot showers and video games.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from User X, who has this to say about the Frank Miller film 300, "300 is a much more engrossing film than I had expected, with a decent plot to back up the incredible action. The writer chose to focus entirely on the legendary Sparta, instead of the true to history Sparta, a decision I approve of whole-heartedly." Have you got a one-paragraph (or smaller) review? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.