Sunday, April 22, 2012

Preparing to go Zen…

I've continued to prune the shrubs out front, pecking away like an old hen, a shrub or two at a time on days when it's been warm enough to be outside. There are perhaps 30 shrubs, several of them seven feet high and as wide. They are full of dead wood and crossed branches.

I'm taking them back to healthy wood and a decent shape, assuming they don't simply die of the shock of being cared for! I'm now down to the last third of the job, with about 10 shrubs left to do. Only three of these are large, the remainder are cinquefoils, which are not large but are very dense. Many many branches. Anyway, they are beginning to green up and I need to get them done in the next week.

But while cutting down the enormous shrubs I've noticed that there is an irregularly-shaped gravel bed to the left of the entryway, right up against the building. It was hidden behind the jungle before. It's perhaps 14 feet long along the wall, eight feet deep with an outer edge of eight or 10 feet. The end closest to the building is angled to run parallel to the sidewalk. It's bordered with railroad ties and filled with very coarse (inch or larger) gravel, some of which has evaporated over the past several years to reveal landscape cloth beneath.

I'm not quite certain why the builder put gravel there, rather than the lawn which is between all the other ground floor unit patios, but for whatever reason it leaves me with the perfect opportunity for… you guessed it… a dry Zen garden.

And after the site the first requirement of a Zen garden is rocks. Yesterday was a glorious day, the first we'd had in a very long time. It was sunny and warm enough that you didn't even need a jacket. I'd asked Ian if he'd take me on a rock-hunting trip, and he was kind enough to say yes. He even said he'd feed me lunch first!

He picked me up about 11:30 and away we went. He drives an enormous four-wheel drive monster of a Land Cruiser of an age which requires veneration in the automobile world. It goes about anywhere given time and assuming you have no loose fillings. We had a delicious brunch at a nice little place in Inglewood, which is sort of Calgary's "Old Town". A friend joined us which was really nice, and it was a very enjoyable start to the outing.

The hills surrounding Calgary are still dressed in camel-coloured grass. The trees are bare but beginning to appear to be enclosed in a light mist as leaf buds thicken on bare stems. As we rode along I saw two trumpeter swans in a slough alongside the road, a well-fed coyote trotted through a field, red-tailed hawks circled, keeping a sharp eye out for any gopher foolish enough to stray far from its burrow.

We pulled off the road where a recent slide had brought down tons and tons of rocks. I walked up the slide, selected my half dozen stones, and then we went on to the Trans-Canada Trail. It was lovely back in the woods. The rocks along the trail were covered with orange splats of lichen and wooly green patches of moss. Two crows argued in the distance. An aspen clearly showed the effects of a heavy snowfall on its branches at some early stage of its growth which left the branches permanently deformed.

Ian pointed out a nearby mountain and told me of a climb when he reached the top of the cliff to find a bald eagle hovering above him in the up draught of warm air rising off the cliff face. We live in a beautiful country.

It was a perfect day. That day will be a part of my Zen garden, along with the hours I spent with one of my favourite people in the world. Zen gardens are all about symbolism. I have plans.


SMM said...

Where be the rocks now? In the ever cosy apartment.

Deb said...

No, they be living in the back of the 4x4 until mid-week (or mid-summer) whenever I am able to participate in the placing of the stones and the addition of the pea gravel etc.