At Pinecrest Gardens, empty bird cages gleam in spokes of sunlight--leftover relics from Parrot Jungle. As a kid, I watched, open-mouthed, as Macaws performed magic tricks, slam-dunked mini basketballs and rollerskated across a table. Near the coral rock entrance, I stood like a scarecrow while my mom took a Polaroid of me, posing with a parrot clamped to each arm.
Now the birds have moved to the beach and the gardens don't cost a dime. There's a community center next door, along with a brand new library. I popped in to say hello.
"We're only a month old!" said the lady behind the desk.
"I'm so glad you're here," I said.
After my visit, I snuck off and snapped a few pictures. Behind the library, a bouquet of color, like fireworks sizzling against the green:
Tucked behind the oak trees, a glimpse of Whilden-Carrier Cottage: built by pioneers in the early 1930s. I pressed my ear against the door and whispered: Who goes there? Pirates or pioneers?
The koi pond near the garden's main entrance, still as glass (and studded with fish!)
"I touched it!" said a little boy, passing this vine-choked oak. "Was is smooth or rough?" his mother asked. He thought a second. "Both," he said.
Bird of paradise (the flower, not the feathered kind).
These blooms look sweet enough to eat (like pink cake frosting).
A tangle of leaves. If you strum them, do they make music?
Some flowers look scented, even when they smell like nothing at all. For some reason, I can't help bending down and sniffing them.
On the way out, I looked up at the sky. Once in a while, I catch sight of a feathered refugee, tail dangling like a streamer. They fly all across South Florida, hanging out in parking lots and rooftops.
Now it's their turn to keep an eye on us.