I’ve been threatening to go to the Lilac Festival in Rochester for more than a year now, having just missed it last year due to not yet living in New York (what a silly thing to let get in the way!). Lilacs are my favorite flower, just squeaking past ranunculus for that special distinction. My grandmother’s old house had two very large lilac bushes out front. They were a classic lilac color, bright bluish-purple, and had such an abundance of flowers that the tops of the branches would be weighed down until they pointed straight to the ground. My mother would cut armfuls of the blooms to dress our table and the smell of those flowers has stood for me as the absolute perfection of floral-ity.
This year we made it to the Lilac Festival on its very last day. Unfortunately the lilacs had not complied with the festival’s scheduling and were notably past their peak bloom. That’s ok, we made friends with some uncommon residents of the park.
These lovely koi fish are housed in the Conservatory in Highland Park. The Conservatory has a number of non-plant residents, which greatly surprised me. Two tortoises were housed in a bed of palm trees and at least a dozen red eared slider turtles lived in a water feature in the rainforest room. Signs on all the doors leading into and out of the conservatory warned guests about the quails being underfoot, but I didn’t chance to see one myself.
The koi are very curious about anyone approaching their pond. They clearly both could see us and understood that we were things like the things that fed them and showed appropriate interest in us. Though we didn’t have any food for them they collected in our shadow.
Some of the koi were very large, several reaching more than a foot long. This guy was the biggest and one of the most assertive, pushing other fish out of his way to stay as close to us as possible.
If you really wanted to see a sight with the fish, you could hold your hand over the water and wiggle your fingers. That really convinced them that you had some goodies to share! This gal couldn’t wait to see what treats we had for her!
I think that koi bring out part of my inner cat. I could sit there all day staring at them gliding through the water, quiet and placid within and without much like Mr. McGregor’s cat from Peter Rabbit. I will be excited to return to the Lilac Festival next year whether or not the lilacs will be in bloom just so I can visit these new friends again.