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