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When I was a girl my family and I lived in an apartment in Brooklyn. My neighbors on both sides of my house had enormous oak trees that they planted near the curb a long time ago. All I knew about the trees was my mom complaining that our neighbors should be raking the fallen leaves as the fall season began and the cold air coming through the leaves caused many of them to fall.
As I grew older and married, my husband and I purchased a house with a large, green grass lawn surrounded by beautiful trees. We hired a gardener to mow and water and keep the grass and trees looking good. On the side of the house, I planted a small flower garden that I often neglected to weed and water so that was the end of my garden.
Sometime later, my husband and I were invited to spend a few days with friends at their large farm in Virginia. The farm was a working farm of about 100 acres. Our friends owned a large and beautiful house on one side of the farm. There were beautiful vegetable gardens and flowers planted along the house. Much further from the house were the barn and the cow pastures. Further along was a fenced-in horse corral and horse barn with several horses.
After seeing all the different areas of the farm, we went back to the main house and sat in the comfortable rockers on their beautiful porch. Suddenly, I felt different as I looked across the house. I saw beauty, I saw and felt a calmness that I hadn’t felt before.
The beauty of this was more than the animals and the houses with trees and flowers. To me, the beauty was of the stillness of the air. Everything appeared quiet and calm. There were ponds as well as a small lake in the area and the watching of the water moving quietly toward me and at times moving away was so serene. I heard music from the wind blowing slightly into the trees. I had a feeling of warmth and safety. I suddenly felt a part of the beautiful nature before me.
More years passed and I never was able to duplicate the feelings I had that one day at the farm. During the years after, I did find beauty in the national parks I visited and I loved the snow on the trees as I skied down the slopes. However, nothing measured up to the feeling I had on that wonderful day on the farm.
More recently, I lost my husband. I was grieving for quite a while after his passing. My bereavement counselor suggested a walk through the Morikami Japanese Gardens with her in Delray Beach. Another friend walked along with me on another glorious day. Both times I felt so peaceful as I watched the movement of the lake. The floor of the gardens had a feeling of quiet movement and I faced its beauty. The winds whispered through the trees as if it began a song. The beauty and serenity surrounded me. I was recognizing a new sense and feeling about my surroundings. I spoke to my friends about the beauty of the trees and each rock in the water that had a unique shape. The koi fish were floating in their own dedicated space. I was told that the growth of the koi depends on the size of their environment and will only eat enough to fill their own space.
I found my walk through the gardens gave me strength. I made connections with what I was seeing. I sat on a beautiful bench and meditated. I felt my anxiety lifting and a new world was open to me. I hope anyone who reads this short story will find the same feelings that I found. I trust those feelings will remain with me forever.
There are many such gardens across the country that offer the beauty and serenity of the Morikami. Take time to embrace all that you will see. You will find that Mother Nature will bring you a sense of serenity and peace.
Sheila Sarrett is a freelance and grant writer living in Boynton Beach.