by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador
Walking and I have been having an epic struggle lately.
I enjoy walks outside. A stroll around the neighborhood, a paced walk around a track for some intentional sweating, or a gentle hike in the woods all suit me fine.
My foot and ankle haven’t agreed with that assessment at all. They protest in pain, refusing to participate in the simplest activities. Foot and Ankle were forced into an intervention with a podiatrist, and now after some painful injections and custom orthotics, foot is about 85% better. Ankle is still questionable, with MRI results pending, but much better than before.
I’ve gotten to the point where I can take very short walks without aggravating the healing process. We have nice sidewalks in our apartment complex, but once you’ve walked around a building a few times, it’s time for more interesting views. I found the perfect spot for gentle walking just a few minutes drive away, and discovered it helped coax some gentle writing out of me as well.
Write Anywhere #79: Japanese Friendship Garden
Yuko-En on the Elkhorn is a Japanese garden in Georgetown, Kentucky, built with donations from the areas largest employer, Toyota Corporation and other local businesses to promote cultural understanding and friendship. At five acres, it is one of the largest Japanese gardens in the U.S. It’s situated on the site of a former monastery, and when you enter its gates, it maintains a peaceful, spiritual feeling.
The gravel paths wind through gradual slopes with a canopy of trees, creating a tranquil cocoon.
I followed the path to a bridge that crossed a dry creek bed spotted with round stones. Natural but deliberate.
The bridge leads to the educational building, where they offer talks about Japanese culture and traditional tea ceremonies. And right around the corner is a Zen rock garden.
Zen landscape gardens using rock, stone, and landscaping techniques began with the advent of Zen Buddhism in Japan in AD 552. I like the geometric designs in the pebbles.
The path moves around the pond, where the cattails bend in the breeze, and purple lotus flowers glow on the surface of the murky pond. The air felt good in my lungs. My foot and ankle are silent today.
I paused at a stone bench as I headed up a slope near the hermit’s hut. Not a soul in the garden but me. I imagined being in the hut, solitude enveloping me. Alone with my thoughts, saying prayers and listening for answers, writing by lantern light in big ink strokes on long strips of delicate rice paper.
Of course, that is in my imagination. Reality: I pull my Moleskine notebook and Bic pen out of my pocket, and I write a list of all the words the garden inspires. I pray, whisper some scriptures. Then I end the path where I started, with a snow lantern pointing the way towards the wooden gates.
Once I got home, I took my word list and decided to try my hand at some haiku, an appropriate form of expression for the beautiful Japanese garden I had just experienced. Here are my humble attempts:
footsteps on pebbles
crunch beneath blue ash branches
a pathway to prayer
awake lotus bud
royal petals open wide
welcome morning sun
garden tea house stands
gentle shrine of solitude
bamboo sways slowly
two shiny black eyes emerge
Poetry is not my strong suit, but it’s always good practice to try out different writing forms.
If you’d like to be inspired by haiku, poetry, or introspective memoir, I recommend these great blogs:
Author Jan Morrill’s Life: Haiku by Haiku
Poet T.L. Cooper’s Write with TLC
Author Linda Austin’s moonbridgebooks
The walk in the garden helped me exercise my mind, body, and soul. I’ll be back often.