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Bridgette and Rogd

I first saw her black afro and its red highlights. “You all want to go on the next tram tour?” How did she talk and grin at the same time? Her dark eyes sparkled against her dark skin. “Hop on. We leave again in ten minutes,” she said and then walked toward the welcome center at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

He stood ramrod straight, about 6″ 2″ tall.  His grey-rimmed glasses matched his eyes and hair; his fair complexion could burn under the Florida sun, even on this winter day.  “I like to get to know people. Where are you from?”  he asked in a controlled monotone.

At 12:00 noon, tram driver Bridgette took her seat and helped Rodg untangle the wires on his headset microphone. Then we twenty or so guests set off for a one-hour, two-mile tour of the eighty-three-acre park.

First impressions. She was short, feisty, middle age.  He was tall, serious, retirement age. The driver and the guide couldn’t seem more opposite.

The tram travelled slowly as Rodg pointed to and named trees, shrubs, flowering plants; he included scientific names that I can’t spell or pronounce. “That’s a royal palm.  There’s a clonal palm – it’s leaves are used on thatched roofs. And there’s a…….,” Rodg hestitated.  He looked at Bridgette; she said names that he repeated and then he said, “I taught her everything she knows and now tells me.”  He chuckled quietly.

“Stop at the lipstick tree and let’s see who wants red lips,” he said. After the tram stopped, he slowly walked toward a branch loaded with ping-pong size red fruits.  He stretched his arm overhead and touched a fruit with his fingertips, but didn’t grasp it. Bridgette stepped off the tram and jumped to pull down the branch with one hand, and grabbed a fruit with her other hand. 

Rodg explained the origin of the tree and opened the fruit filled tiny balloon-like seeds.  Red liquid squirted when he squeezed the seeds. “Anyone want red lips?  Or maybe stripes on your cheeks or forehead?  It’ll wear off in a week or so.”  

The next stop Rodg suggested everyone get off the tram and look up for football-size yellow pods. He asked, “Does anybody like chocolate?” and he talked about the tropical evergreen cocoa tree.  I stood apart from the group, near Bridgette. “You and Rodg have a good time together, don’t you?” I said. 

Bridgette’s face softened. “I love that man. He’s in the beginning phase of Parkinson’s, and they (the park management) thought he should quit.  But he’s so kind and knowledgeable and I said I’d be his driver.  Now we do just three tours a day, only two days a week, and we have fun.”

At the Fairchild Garden, I saw beautiful trees and plants and a butterfly conservatory.  Birds, iguanas, and lizards scattered quickly from sight. But my take-away at this botanical garden was the respect and friendship between two people who are so very different. 

She saw only the best in him.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you Susan. The world would be healed, two people at a time, if folks respected and were kind to each other. That friendship is beyond wonderful! ❤️😊

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