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Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Summer spontaneity! On a whim, Aisha and I went to the Harvard Arboretum this Friday. I was inspired by the Free Fun Fridays program through the Highland Street Foundation, though it turns out that the Arboretum is free all the time (at least the outdoor portion). I'd never been to this or any arboretum, and in between thunderstorm-y July days, I thought we deserved an outdoor adventure.

Getting oriented, we started our exploration by going to the Hunnewell Building to grab a map, and to briefly browse the exhibit. I saw the tiniest, most precious wooly caterpillar there! Then, with a destination in mind, we headed outside. But damn it was hot out! We passed by a free cold water station and lost of children playing around the Free Friday activities. 

We headed for the bonsai trees first, going along a storybook path featuring the Some Bugs children's book. We were thankful for the shade. At the bonsai trees, we did our best to not set off the alarms, which were clearly visible around the perimeter of the collection. To be fair, these were the biggest bonsai trees I've ever seen in my life, and I understand why they wouldn't want people touching them.

We stopped to explore the vine garden, before continuing along the path towards Bussey Hill. Disoriented, I first sent us along a path that first took us to the Bradley Rosaceous Collection, which has some sweet ponds. At one said pond, we saw a humungous dragonfly! A couple nearby buildings peaking up over the tree horizon gave this area a dystopian feel that I loved. 

It started to feel especially hot and humid at this point. But we persevered, taking the Beech Path to cut through to the Explorers Garden and our ultimate goal of the Bussey Hill summit.  This incline though. Woah. Calves. Glutes. Feeling it.

But we made it to the Explorers Garden! Which had so many wild rabbits! Aww! Then, we saw the steps to the Bussey Hill summit. At this point, we both thought we might die of heat exhaustion, but like, when in an arboretum, right? We hiked up the steps and saw...

...not any breathtaking views that we were expecting, but some pretty relaxing areas amongst trees. We took a seat on a bench to cool off, and yellow butterflies (Tiger Swallowtails) fluttered around us. I don't think I've ever seen so many wild butterflies at once. 

Then we made our way back downhill, stopping once when Aisha spotted a monarch caterpillar in the paved path! Concerned that it might get squished, I moved it to the grass. I hope it can find some milkweed. 

Instead of going back to the main entrance, we found another exit near the Forest Hill T stop. Via the Orange Line, we made our way back to Assembly Square, where we found food and refreshment after a full adventure of sweat and caterpillars. 

We decided to revisit the Harvard Arboretum in the fall when it's not 90+ degrees.

Earlier Event: July 19
Poetry Prompts & Pizza
Later Event: July 29
Long Hill