A month or so ago, I was walking through Capitol Hill with a friend. We walked by a former telephone pole that is now sawed off about ten feet up; what remains is thickly covered with several kinds of vine. As we walked by, I reached out and let my palm skip across its surface.
“Ok,” he said. “Hold on. I need you to explain what just happened.”
“I touched the plants?” I said.
“I was walking with a coworker the other day, and she did that too. And I see people just, just do that – reaching out and, like, caressing plants. What is that? Why?”
“Sometimes they look soft,” I said. “Or like they have a varied texture. And I want to know what they feel like. I wonder if they’ll be pokey, or soft like moss, or something else altogether. I just do it. I’d do the same thing with sweaters if we were walking through a department store.” This seemed to satisfy him. Somewhat.
This is all just background to tell you one thing: if I visited one of these exhibits, I would need a couple hours just to go around petting everything, just to see what it felt like.