Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Magnificent Magnolias and A New Granddaughter!

While Massachusetts grapples with record cold and snow, I’m in San Francisco getting to know our new granddaughter, Gage Antonia Hineline, who was born on the day before Christmas to daughter Marina and Jeff Hineline.

Since Wednesday was the last full day before I return to the bitter cold of Massachusetts, Marina decided to take me and the Big Eleni (Eleni Nikolaides, who is the honorary grandma to my three children, and is now living with her own daughter and two grandchildren in Florida, but came to San Francisco to help out) to the San Francisco Botanical Garden, to see “Magnificent Magnolias—Now in Bloom, Mid-January through March.”
On the way there we passed some of the “painted ladies” of San Francisco, which I’ve admired ever since I was a student at U Cal Berkeley in 1961-1963.

I love magnolias, and was astonished to see that here in San Francisco, magnolias are now in bloom everywhere.   The San Francisco Botanical Garden, in Golden Gate Park offers, “the most significant magnolia collection outside China, where the majority of species originate.”

At the entrance, one poster advertised the “Magnificent Magnolias” exhibition and another warned us not to tread on the caterpillars of the California Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly, which is a stunning blue color I’ve never seen before.   

Marina checked the map of nearly 100 magnolia trees—“from the monsoon-influenced temperate forest of the Himalayas to the cloud forests of Mesoamerica”-- with the Botanical Garden’s Staff member, while giant magnolia trees (originally brought from Asia in the 1930’s or earlier) bloomed overhead in white, pink and magenta, and visitors from around the world, including these young lovers, admired the beauty overhead.
This giant magnolia blossom, as large as a saucer, is Magnolia compbellii “Late Pink”, “Introduced in the Garden from seed purchased in 1934…in Darjeeling, India.”  White and pink blossoms covered the paths, and someone put these in one of the ceramic pots that mark the gardens.

Marina kept her dog, Stamper, on a leash, and introduced her to some visiting toddlers, while the “Big Eleni” pushed Baby Gage, blissfully asleep, in her clever “Doona” carriage which converts into a car seat, so you don’t have to wake the baby to put her in the car.

And here she is—turning a month old tomorrow, and already melting our hearts with her smile.  Baby Gage Antonia Hineline!  Every bit as magnificent as the magnolias!