The Gardens Of The Cummer

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The Cummer Museum is a Jacksonville jewel that Kish and I visited yesterday while Richard was working and Russell was painting. It’s got a very nice collection of traditional and contemporary art, pieces that deal with Florida and its indigenous people, furniture, fine china, and even fashion, which made a ramble through its room a pleasant series of eclectic surprises.

Behind the museum are several gardens that back up to the St. Johns River. There is an orderly English garden, an Italian garden (pictured above), a tea garden, and an upper and lower Olmsted garden. All are beautiful on a sunny day. The capstone of the garden area, however, is a huge, ancient, gnarled oak tree that must be hundreds of years old. Its mossy limbs sprawl out in every direction, touching the ground and some even being partially covered by a layer of ground cover. It’s magnificent, and a picture really can’t do it justice.

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The B And B Experience

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Kish and I are staying at a very nice bed and breakfast here in Jacksonville. It’s a bright, cheerful place — the sun-splashed solarium where we’ve had breakfast, by itself, makes you happy to greet the new day — that is run by a friendly couple and is very conveniently located near Richard’s apartment.

We’re normally hotel people (and the older and grander the hotel, the better), but it’s nice to mix in the B and B experience every once in a while. The people who run B and Bs typically are eager to please, and when you have a hostess or host who’s a good cook — which is the case here in Jacksonville, with fresh-baked breads, hot egg dishes, and fresh fruit every morning, along with good, hot coffee — it’s icing on the cake.

One other aspect of the B and B experience is worth keeping in mind: You might be seated at breakfast with other guests. If you’re a grump in the morning, that might be a downside, but it’s something we find kind of refreshing. It’s a chance to haul out those often-rusty social conversation skills, make pleasant small talk, and learn something interesting about people who hail from another neck of the woods. Unless you’re somebody who regularly goes to dinner parties with people you don’t know, how often do you have an opportunity to exercise your chit-chat capabilities? And having a nice meal with complete strangers makes the world seem like a friendlier place.