Lining the Path

 All paths are the same, leading nowhere. Therefore, pick a path with heart! Carlos Castaneda

Dusk is falling, I am determined to renew the mulch of my garden paths but the length of day challenges me.  The design of this part of the garden depends on the paths – they define and shape everything. Without them I cannot expect to stroll the garden nor photograph it. So each spring, I renew the garden paths.

As I work quietly, I begin to consider how frequently “the path” serves as a metaphor for life, for making choices, for encountering difficulties, for taking the easy way out, for pursuing an adventure. According to American psychologist James Hillman “Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path… this is what I must do, this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am.”  Italian psychologist and criminologist Cesare Lombroso wrote “Good sense travels on the well-worn paths; genius, never. And that is why the crowd, not altogether without reason, is so ready to treat great men as lunatics.” Thoreau exhorts us to “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence” but Spanish poet Antonio Machada states “Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.”  Personally, my favorite path saying is by Groucho Marx – “A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.”

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In the garden, a path is literal, practical, yet highly symbolic. Visually, it leads the eye and the foot, like a giant arrow pointing the way.  There may be unexpected twists and turns, creating places for plant treasures, ornaments, a bench. This particular part of my garden was designed to be seen from the decks above it, not unlike the Elizabethan knot gardens that were meant to be viewed from a high castle window. The garden beds are both defined and connected by the paths.

Before the dark drops so deeply into the garden that I must retreat, I look at the paths with a sense of satisfaction. Task finished for the year, the paths are clear and ready for use, and I walk them home.

One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect, the whole world looks like home for a time.  Hermann Hesse

All photos ©2012 Lynn Emberg Purse, All rights reserved

34 thoughts on “Lining the Path

  1. “Task finished for the year, the paths are clear and ready for use, and I walk them home.”
    “One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect, the whole world looks like home for a time.” Hermann Hesse

    …and I cried–not tears of grief, but tears of spiritual refreshment while reading your words and viewing your garden. It was “enchanting” and I am the better for it having visited. Thank you, Lynn. You are magnificent and your talent takes my breath away. Thank you.

  2. I like the quote about the cat – Dad
    told me about a famous anthropologist
    that asked an native american chief
    what the red patch on his tent signified.
    “it signifies that there was a hole in my

    • Margie, I love your grassy path! Mown paths through meadows are common in English gardens; if I had a meadow (or more lawn) I would definitely do the mown path. I love your point about kids “getting” the path – even my dog follows the path (most of the time).

  3. The quotes, the images, and reflections on the concept of ‘path’ and what it means as a process. So interesting. It is something I often think of, and oddly enough, find myself lost in such musings while walking through a garden or park. Reading your post reminded me of one of my own from a while back: Where is home?

    • Oh Karyn, I loved your post on home! Following each step as a unique adventure – how creative and intriguing! And thank you for visiting and commenting, and I am delighted that it made a connection for you.

  4. Lynn, I love the lyrical associationsof your meditation on path and the serene and spectacular photos of your garden. Beautiful. Love, M

  5. Your gardens are beautiful and the paths inviting! I’ve usually made my own path in the world, it’s usually the one least traveled and I’m certain some have thought me a lunatic. 😮

  6. Lynn, I loved this entry………it is full of wisdom and insight and much to consider. You are a gift, and my teacher.


  7. Your garden is so beautiful, and looks like such a peaceful place. I love the paths, and understand how finishing the work would be soul satisfying.

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