Han-Yu Hung, Eric Sanderson, and their son Everett Sanderson visited The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) on a wintry Saturday afternoon in February to record with StoryCorps. Co-Facilitator Carolina Correa and I were there because The Institute for Museum and Library Services awarded the NYBG three recording days when it won the prestigious 2010 IMLS National Medal.
Han works at the NYBG and the family frequently visits as members of the Children’s Gardening Program. Everett described exploring the garden’s woods with his friends, admiring the chipmunks, cardinals, and wildlife, all reveling in the pastoral respite from the Bronx’s cement cityscape.
Eric remembered building a tee-pee on the premises with Everett, and Han recalled Everett falling asleep in a wheelbarrow when he was an infant. They discussed their favorite and least-favorite vegetables that grow in the vegetable garden, and how a friend there grows bitter melon – a tropical reminder of Han’s past in Taiwan.
They shared vivid memories of living in City Island, a spit of Bronx land just east of the garden, and kayaking around it during the warmer months. Eric’s kayak once had a leak and capsized. Quickly he was chest deep in the Eastchester Bay, calling after Everett who safely paddled them to shore.
Such stories may seem fantastical to the unknowing, yet the garden, situated on some 250 acres along the Bronx River, brings a city dweller’s childhood fantasies to life.