This Baobab Tree Is Dormant For The Winter
When the elevator doors opened, I wished I had brought my lunch, or at a minimum, a mug of hot tea and a good book. I knew that I would not want to leave any time soon. It has been an easier than usual winter. But the days are still short and sometimes gray, leaving one longing for warmth and sunlight. For an abundance of both, head to Dartmouth's Life Sciences Building, get in the elevator, and push 4. In seconds you will find yourself in the anteroom of the greenhouse, where, to quote Leonard Cohen, "the sun pours down like honey."There are four other rooms--tropical, subtropical, dry and orchid--open to the public. Every plant is identified, often including information about traditional medical uses for each. Enveloped in warmth, you can take your time to study all of them or just relax in the greenery. You might send good thoughts to the baobab tree, dormant, spindly, and leafless. There is even a small goldfish pond, plus Tigger, a plecostomus fish (after a good look at the photo and later confirmation from Wikipedia: a species of catfish) that is tasked with cleaning algae from the water and keeping the other fish company. Even though one is invited to locate Tigger in the pond, on this particular visit, he chose to remain aloof. While it is a feast for the eyes, there are other sensory inputs too. The perfume of the subtropical room is welcome; it might be the three kinds of jasmine that live there. One plant asks the visitor to touch it and watch its reaction. And stepping from the subtropical to the dry room, home to multitudes of succulents and cacti, is like moving from the steam room to the sauna. The final room houses the Brout Orchid Collection, which contains 1,000 kinds of orchids. Few were in bloom during a recent visit. In the meantime, beautiful photographs by Bernard Trumpower can be seen on the website. The greenhouse is a small vacation. Surely it is beautiful throughout the year, but cannot be more enchanting than on a mid-winter's day. It's good for what grouches you.