Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Luther Burbank and the Yogi

Upon checking into the Hotel La Rose we learned that a new bike race called the "Tour de California" would be passing through town the following day.

The following day we agreed that rather than getting caught up in the race crowd, we would rather check out the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, barely a mile away. The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center with morphing Snoopy sculpture by Japanese artist Yoshiteru Otani would have to wait for another day.

I had read about the horticulturalist Luther Burbank, his gardens, and his deep bonding with plants, in the book "Autobiography of a Yogi". The folks in the Santa Rosa visitors bureau were quick to blow Burbank's horn, showing me pictures of him hob-nobbing with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. But when I mentioned his association with Paramahansa Yoganada, they were completely clueless.

By the time we set out for the gardens, Santa Rosa was in the grips of police barricades and bumper-to-bumper traffic. We parked amid the quaint bungalows adjacent to the gardens. I thought that perhaps with an "event" going on, the gardens would also be busy; on the contrary, they were almost completely empty. It was therefore a very peaceful place. The gardens were small, and not a whole lot was in bloom; nevertheless the house and setting were idyllic, and the signage and displays were well done. Here was a man whose religion was plants, whose garden provided him with every spiritual need.


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