Wednesday, April 16, 2008

San Diego Balboa Park - Botanical building

In San Diego we loved Balboa Park, and were fascinated by this building, which was constructed mostly of wooden slats. Balboa Park was built for a World's Fair about 100 years ago.

Strangely, we didn't take any pictures in the zoo, which we walked through from one end to the other. I think we couldn't picture happy pictures of animals in cages, while orchids in this building are lovely and inspiring.

It made me think about what zoos and botanical gardens are for - partly to show us curious things from other parts of the world, partly to save those things from extinction. But sometimes plants and animals escape from the confines of gardens or yards and play havoc with native plants and animals, which we then have to put into gardens or zoos to protect. (Humans are some of those animals that have gotten into the wrong habitat and are destroying it - that's why we need the zoos!)

There are other things that we saw protected in San Diego: the old Gaslight Quarter saved from being razed for new modern building, or the Old Town and Little Italy, recalling some of the cultures that came to the where San Diego stands, introducing new plants and animals, cultures, buildings.

I once read that a town with a lot of old buildings is pretty much a museum, and static. A town with a variety of buildings shows its history and is dynamic. Of course some towns look to be completely new. Los Angeles has had a way of remaking itself throughout its career, ignoring the old, although there are those who want to bring the old LA back to life like the Gaslight Quarter. But we didn't see much life there in the Gaslight Quarter, other than convention goers eating at sidewalk restaurants up and down the streets. Does the "real" life maybe need the new, while the old and preserved is for our R&R and entertainment?

Another kind of zoo or botanical garden or museum are our national parks, which Hanne and I enjoyed immensely. Teddy Roosevelt understood that we have to save places and geology as much as plants and animals. This is even more important now than in his time: cities sprawl out into farmland (that destroyed whatever was there before) and there are those who prefer despoiling these areas to get the oil and other minerals from beneath their surfaces.

Can we have our cake (or plants, animals and landscapes) and "eat" it too with our modern culture?

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