GLIMMERS AND BLOSSOMS: The very first person who placed a candle near some flowers, by night, was onto something, for seeing our flora by the flicker or glow of an incandescent object is a wonderfully esoteric experience. True, we can see all of those buds and branches much better during the daytime, courtesy of our nearest star, but all of those further away stars, come sundown, don't engage in the full illumination thing quite as well (though the moon does lend its muscle). So spying an iris or prickly pear by soft, see-able light, or twinkling light, requires some human assistance, via candles or, in our modern age, strings of bulbs.
MANY A LARGE GARDEN... decks the halls -- er, trees -- with such strings each season, then invites nature lovers and enjoyers of holiday traditions to wander among the lit-up plants, savoring the scene without the sun to send every shadow running. The San Diego Botanic Garden does just that, each December, via The Garden of Light. Picture over 100,000 lights in all -- probably many, many more than even the most of intrepid of we decorators display around our homes -- glittering-up the agave and cypresses and leafy scenes. Is there less hustle and bustle than spying all of those lights on a home? For sure, you're in nature.
DATES AND TO-DOS: Dec. 6 through 23 and Dec. 26 through 30 are the scarf-up, stroll-about dates for 2014. Marshmallow roasting, that king of cooler night outdoor activities, visits with Santa, and clip-clop wagon rides (meaning a horse is at the lead) also lend the garden glow some more seasonal flavor. As for special somethings to keep an eye out for, on select nights? "Snow" falling -- yep, snow's in quotes, so no need to don that parka -- and the serving of hot mulled wine.