We had run into friends who asked for a tour of the garden — especially to see some of our latest projects, like the stone walkway I finished earlier this month. Its curved path is purposeful, I had told my symmetrically minded husband when I designed it, to evoke the flow of a river.
Rocks and water form a large part of my aesthetic, and I respond to gurgling streams and rushing waterfalls, even waves lapping at pebbles. The rhythms, the sounds, the timeless beauty harmonize to elicit peace and calm. I want to bring some of that into the garden — not stylized in the Japanese manner, but in a more naturalistic way.
To my regret, I repeated my rationale after the walkway was done. As I stood, straightening my back and surveying my work, I queried: “See, doesn’t it look like a river?”
Two mentions is all it took. Kevin seized upon my analogy as an opportunity for teasing me — what I’ve learned in 12 years of marriage is one of his favorite pastimes. “I mock because I love,” he tells me.
Nevermind that “mock,” by definition I reply, is scornful and contemptuous. All I get in return is a loving grin.
Later, when my brother stopped by and took his customary walk through the garden, he paused to admire my handiwork. He was especially touched that I used stone from a barn foundation on my parents’ property to create the edges.
But before he could offer words of praise — or even suggestions for improvement — Kevin said “Tell her it looks like a river.”
Even my mother, who had had a hard time envisioning what I’d described over the phone and was eager to see it for herself, was arrested in her response by an impish interjection: “Tell her it looks like a river.”
So there it is. My winding, inviting walkway that took years of planning and weeks of sweat and strained muscles to build. Not even 10 days old and it’s the butt of a recurrent joke.
The other day, when I was home alone, I strolled its brief length and envisioned how it’ll complement the rest of the garden’s features. It was a peaceful respite — much like a sojourn beside a river.
Just don’t tell me it looks like one.