I'm preoccupied with the city of Boston, these days, perhaps because I have looming deadlines that I am avoiding, perhaps because classes begin in three weeks and I am looking for a distraction. In any case, as I was walking to work this morning through the Boston Public Garden, I was struck by the sight of palm trees. It seems that the glorious gardners of our public spaces made the most of our gruesome heatwave. Newly planted among rows of other tropical plants, the miniature palm trees greet you as you walk around the equestrian statue of George Washington. Tickled at the sight of the magnificent General on his horse surrounded by the palm trees, I thought this non sequitur was both humorous and inspiring. It recasts our national hero in new clothes, reminding me that even our founders have to change with the times. And it helped me recognize how crucial invention and creativity is in our daily lives, in gardening, in parenting, in politics, in law. (For those of you not familiar with the Boston Public Garden, it is usually planted more traditionally and with local or native flowers, trees and shrubs, perhaps in keeping with the historic nature of the place, perhaps as a sign of the conventional dimension of Boston culture.) The palm trees also made me laugh and, I thought, were meant to be lighthearted, both crucial demeanors these days (at least for me) in times of war. I am not suggesting that we take the current politics of our times -- our duties as citizens or advocates or teachers -- less seriously. I am suggesting that the need for change is strong; we might draw on our inventive capacities to imagine and make our communities better; good ideas might come from unexpected places (palm trees in the Common, flanking Washington); and keeping a sense of humor is critical to letting those good ideas flow.