Amid and under and inside all of the bulb-blinky lights and crumpled wrapping paper and cookie tins and clothing boxes that come part and parcel of Christmas Day are scenes of nature.
It's hard to picture a Currier and Ives-type card with a river and snowscape, and thinking of a Christmas tree without remembering that the tree hailed from a forest, or at least is a cunning approximation of a tree, is simply not done.
Thus a quiet communion with nature folds right into the bustle and sometimes noisy scene of the season, as season that draws many of its iconic symbols from the wilder world.
Those iconic symbols are out in peaceful profusion at Descanso Gardens in LA Cañada Flintridge. While the historic spread of leafy, lovely growing things shutters on Christmas Day, you can bet all of those leafy, lovely growing things are still sprouting and blooming and changing, even in the absence of humans.
But humans will return on Saturday, Dec. 26 when the gardens re-open after the yuletide, and while you're free to wander about the rambling, scrubby, camellia-dotted grounds, which top out at 160 acres -- free after you pay admission, of course -- you can join a Weekend Walk for some guided knowledge of the oaks and ginkgos and flowering shrubs.
Weekend Walks on both Saturday, Dec. 26 and Sunday, Dec. 27 at 11 o'clock in the morning, which everyone knows is just about the top of the morning (sorry 10 a.m.).
A docent will fill you in on what's blooming and how the winter garden is changing. Figure, after all the festivities, it will be nice to have someone else do a bit of the talking for awhile. We're not saying you're nearly hoarse, but parties and such can take a toll.
And, indeed, plants are abloom around the gardens, especially its celebrated the symbol, the camellia, which has its day -- er, full-on festival weekend -- in late January.
Whatever you breathe in and enjoy, consider a toddle among Descanso's old oaks a quiet capper to a rip-roarer of a month which has a bit more rip-roaring-ness to come on New Year's Eve.