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.”
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
“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.
Eleanor, how kind you are. And astute. That was actually my favorite line and favorite quote of the post. Thanks for noticing and I am so glad that it moved you.
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
That’s great! Same idea – sometimes things are exactly as they seem.
What an enjoyable musing 🙂 Thanks for the quotes!
Thanks for visiting, glad you enjoyed!
enchanting as always Lynn!
Thank you, Mimo!
Your paths are wonderful! I can hardly wait until spring arrives here too.
Last year I added a new type of path to my yard. I created a path in the lawn. I left two strips of unmowed grass to define the edge of the path.
These tall strips of grass lasted right through the winter and are still a defining feature in the browness of early spring.
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).
Jill, thanks for visiting. I am loving your new cherry blossom work!
what a beautiful, soul nourishing, place you have created here. Thank you for sharing it with us and allowing us to see the meaning of your paths.
Joss, thank you so much for your kind comments. I have so enjoyed “journeying” with you on your blog and am delighted that I could offer a “path” for you to enjoy as well. Peace 🙂
Great piece of writing and lovely photos of the garden. Not sure I found my path as yet, but I am looking.
Christov, I cannot tell you how much I love following your journey walks around your home town. So, I deeply appreciate your comments. And looking for a path may be as important as finding it 🙂
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? http://bit.ly/erHQ2S
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.
Lynn, I love the lyrical associationsof your meditation on path and the serene and spectacular photos of your garden. Beautiful. Love, M
Margie, thank you; the garden is my greatest metaphor 🙂
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. 😮
Paula, you made me laugh out loud. I love that Lombroso quote, and how true! Sometimes I wonder why my paths in this garden all go in circles – maybe I just don’t want to leave!
Funny! Didn’t think of that. I think it means you want to stay–no way out. Gardens are so therapeutic; makes sense to me. -:)
You are so talented! Your garden looks beautiful and you write so eloquently! A wonderful post, thanks for sharing 🙂
Rebecca, thanks so much for visiting and for your comments. This was a fun post to write.
Beautiful garden and obviously a place that gives you peace and pride. I appreciate the wisdom in the paths too. Well done.
Thank you, Frank; I do love being in the garden – it is definitely my peaceful and reflective space.
Lynn, I loved this entry………it is full of wisdom and insight and much to consider. You are a gift, and my teacher.
Thanks so much, Cindy – great to hear your voice again.
Ah! Some of my favorite quotes and a lovely, lovely series of photos! Thank you so much!
Thanks, Catherine – I had great fun finding those quotes! A popular metaphor.
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.
Thanks Robin, yes, it is peaceful and I find it hard to come in at night. Yesterday morning a huge bumblebee was buzzing around the flowers, a lovely counterpoint to the bird song in the trees.