Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I am very attached to this gravel...

As my faithful readers know Ian built a lovely Zen garden I wanted in a gravel patch near the front door of our condo building in 2012 as a Mother's Day Gift. He bought the tumble stone, and the pea gravel. We went to the mountains together and hiked up a ravine to find the right size and shape of larger stones. And he built it over two weekends. 

It's to the left of the main entrance of our building and is about 8' wide by 20' long. It's a spot where nothing will grow, as the underground parkade roof comes to the surface there and underlies that area.
Standing Stone with "Sedum" forest
It's an odd shape, since one end is a triangle, and it's only large enough for the "Three Stone" style, which means you have a standing stone in an island of greenery, plus two other stones which have a particular shape, and are placed at a certain relationship to the standing stone. 

The land is represented by round, tumbled river rocks 1 - 1.5" in size, flowing water by fine pea gravel you rake patterns in, though raking patterns in this garden would be futile, as people walk through it all the time. 

I've had many positive comments about it, and because we had a resident pass away in particularly tragic circumstances just as we finished it, some residents wrote his name on one of the smooth stones and put it on the garden in his memory. Since then other residents have written the names of loved ones who'd passed on smooth river rocks and left them in the garden, so it's become something of a memory garden. I also wrote baby Isabel's name and birth/death date on a smooth white stone and left it among the others. Since the stones represent the sea this is a rather apt metaphor of the Buddhist saying, “The wave does not need to die to become water. She is already water.”  

As you also might remember the sidewalk leading to the front entrance is about 25 feet wide and 100 feet long. Because some people have no common sense whatsoever, they will drive their five ton moving vans right up to the front door, which is very hard on the sidewalk. We found the only way to prevent this from happening was to place large cast concrete/stone planters to block their way. So we have three big three stone planters filled with road-fill gravel on the end of the sidewalk. We placed two at the driveway end and the third about 20 feet in, in the centre of the drive. These had to placed empty  by a fork lift, and then we filled them with a half-tonne of gravel, so they aren't going anywhere. 

In this climate you can't plant real flowers in them because the moisture gets into the concrete and in the winter the pot cracks, so we put in new topiaries surrounded by iron trellis work last year. These were wired to concrete blocks under the gravel because the wind is sumpin fierce here in the winter, and we had to chase down the previous ones. It cost a couple of hundred dollars for each one plus paying the landscapers to install them.

I still had one to go but hadn't been able to find a matching topiary until last Thursday afternoon I found them on line. I made plans to go buy one on Friday.

But Thursday evening I looked out the window to see one of the residents had taken the topiaries out of the pots, and was shovelling the gravel into buckets. This woman is always belligerent, and has the attitude that she is entitled to anything she wants, and can do anything without consulting anyone. I hated having to deal with her when I was on the board, because her standard answer was, "I don't care what the rules say, or what the board says. I'm doing it this way, my mother is a lawyer and I'll just sue if I don't get my way." 

More than a little trepidatious, I wandered out to ask her what she was doing. She said she was going to plant flowers in the planters. She had already dumped several buckets of stones in the Zen garden. I pointed out that the Zen garden has only two kinds of stone, and they are laid in a design. She said she didn't see any design, and she'd rake the stones flat when she was done.  

When I went out to tend the flowers the next afternoon I was stunned. She literally had *buried* the Zen garden 10-12" deep in the big rough road fill from the planters, which was also full of bark, garbage and cigarette butts. Just dumped in big piles all over the garden. Then I got mad. I actually sat here until 2:00 am and wrote a whiny letter complaining to the property manager explaining how I'd been wronged. It sounded childish even to me. So I deleted it and went to bed. 

I went out yesterday morning and looked at it again and it looks terrible, nothing like the Zen garden I'd planned and Ian had built. But standing there I realized that there's no point in choosing to be angry. All is does is make me miserable and burn off energy I could use for more positive activity. 

So I went to the Walmart and bought a big Boston fern, a transparent plastic "chip" serving bowl about two inches deep which has a "dip" container moulded into one side. It has a rippled surface, so I can sink it into the gravel, bring the gravel right up to the edge, put two asparagus ferns in the "dip" container and turn it into a birdbath. The next neighbour has a feeder and when I'm out with the hose the birds are always eager for a drink and to have a shower.  

One of the landscaping crew helped to rake the gravel down, which took him five minutes, and we sunk the Boston fern into one of the piles. I took the stones she'd tossed aside and re-sited them and gave the entire thing a good wash-down with the hose. 

So now it has a new look, with a fern, a bird bath, and the rocks - aside from the standing stone, repositioned. And it looks okay. 

It's funny, I look at other countries feuding between themselves and say to myself, "Why can't they just get along?" 

And then someone pours a half-dozen wheelbarrows of rock on a patch of gravel which is on common property and thus belongs as much to her as it does to me - and I get my panties in  twist. You know, if you don't laugh at your own ridiculousness at least a dozen times a day you're going to end up in a padded cell. 

The Buddha said, "The root of suffering is attachment." And it gets me a hundred times a day. It's a root that is as hard to dig out as those dandelions we fight with every spring.  

So, the Zen Garden is no longer the austere garden you'd find in a temple. But it's more recognizable as a "garden" to Western eyes. I like it even better now. And the flowers she planted are beautiful.  


oklhdan said...

I'm struck by the way you took something negative and turned it into a positive. I too get "attached" to things and have to constantly remind myself to let go. You are such a good example!

Deb said...

Hi Dani,

It's work, isn't it? I keep being reminded why I started this "blogging" journey, which is because I wanted to simplify my life. And I'm going to return to that goal, because I see lots of us boomers and older, floundering. The world is moving so fast, and it seems things are so unstable compared to when we were younger. That may be an illusion but it's harder to cope with it when you're older. The resilience you had at 25 is gone.

Hugs from Canader