Sunday, July 20, 2008

Zen Garden (formerly posted on Tiny Green Thumbs)

My husband, Henry and I are putting in a Japanese Zen-style garden in our backyard. The landscapers are doing it piece by piece, then we discuss what's next, etc., etc. It's a labor of love for both of us, although we're really not doing much of the labor except a few plantings. We've also had a lot of dry weather lately, so we're having to be extra attentive to watering in the new plants and trees. We had placed a sprinkler hose (a hose with microscopic holes that slowly drips onto an area for a good soak) around some of the arborvitae, but I was having to move it to get both sets and the new cryptomeria. We stopped at Lowe's tonight to get more hose and I still didn't buy enough, so I made another trip back later. I bought a longer one this time and moved the first two to a group of azaleas in the side yard. I kept watching and waiting for the entire hose to become filled with the tiny droplets, but it just didn't seem to work. I finally realized that I had attached the garden hose to the lowest end of the plantings and was expecting our low pressure system to pump water against gravity to the end of the hose. Here I stood in the beginnings of a Zen garden which is designed to imitate nature and I was working against it. I pulled the entire hose out and relocated the beginning at the top of the slope, letting the end wrap around the coral bark maple at the lowest end of the strip. Instantly the hose began to fill with droplets. Each morning since school has been out, I've accompanied my cats onto the screened porch for breakfast and a nature break. Have I been one with the garden? No, usually, I've also hauled my iPod with me to listen to the latest craft podcast. I'm missing the point of this opportunity to experience nature fully. I'm tuning into craft blabbing instead of bird calls and wildlife interactions. The summer is supposed to be the time to recoup your energy and relax. I'm trying to cram in too much as usual. Tomorrow I'm going to take my binoculars, a notebook and a pen instead of my iPod onto the porch. I noticed a brown thrasher today near the bird feeders. I don't usually see them in this area. There's also been a catbird lately, another new visitor. My hummingbird feeder has been up for over a week (yes, I'm late with that), yet I haven't watched in the morning to see if it's being used. I need to take note of what is going on around me in "real life." I should take lessons from my cats. They can sit or lie for hours just watching through the screened porch at anything or nothing at all. If they get bored or tired, they simply sleep. The old adage "stop and smell the roses" keeps coming into my head. I think I'll add, "Stop and smell the roses, watch and listen to the birds, and above all, pay attention to your surroundings." Awareness increases when we simply tune in to what is right before our eyes, rather than streaming in from earphones.

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