Sometimes there are things that drive me crazy and it is necessary for me to check them out. This takes a certain boldness when one is smart enough to realize that it goes against all rules of etiquette to do so. I love for instance asking about scars as they are such cool stories. Asking a person where they got the scar or the wine mark is tough though. In fact for two years I walked around with a tooth missing hoping to meet some people who were bold enough to start cool conversations. I only got four as few people asked….do you want to know?
I digress already though. This is a story about gardens. It is about how there was no resisting my going up to a door and asking an “ignorant” question. A house was being built in our neighborhood that was obviously being built by someone with money and clear ideas. I got to watch it go together and of course, being human, made little comments in my head as it progressed. It was frustrating actually because the only comment that I really could make was “why so big?”. The house was tasteful and oddly it made itself fit. I liked it. Then, when they were just finishing up the details, they added a pea gravel drive. Why?
It looked good I must say. So would have interlock though. The decision for pea gravel could not have been because money ran out. The decision for pea gravel could not have been made without considering the winters we have in Canada. I know I would not want to shovel it and I knew that whoever was building this house was not stupid. Surely he knew that weeds grow eventually in gravel drives. There had to be a reason beside aesthetics and money. So, two years after he built it I knocked on his door and asked him.
When he answered I introduced myself and told him why I came. Why the pea stone? Well, I should have left it alone! His answer has been a fond inspiration ever since and it told me a lot about him. Every time I see his drive I smile and get it. It was for the sound. The sound of a car crunching through gravel announcing guests or announcing a loved one is home. The sound it makes as a background to conversation when people walked along it. Sound is such an important detail. Poetic.
The latter story is written because sound was being tuned in my own yard. The Japanese have seven types of water sounds defined, a palette of sound. They range from the annoying drip to the rushing torrent. I attempted myself to create an “echo drip”, trying to recreate the eeriness of water dripping in a cave. The different things I contemplated here are too many to write but it did include having water going into a bucket with a tube coming out of it, like a pipe organ. This tube could be made longer or shorter to fine tune the noise. The waterfall was made narrower and wider and Lyla, my granddaughter, and I chose the best noise. Rock placements were played with and this too changed the tune. It was fun. ( we also nabbed some tad poles for her to take home)
Before getting to the actual pond, while driving on errands, we were just talking about noise in general. I tried to mimic the different choices on the palette of sound. Lyla on her own announced that the drip was the worst sound. She also laughed when I crunched on a carrot, bringing my mouth close to her ear, and asked if she would like that noise in her garden. She got that noise counted and we had a lot of fun imagining gross noises. Do you know that the sound of a mower being operated seven houses down on Saturday morning is a welcome sound and would actually be missed if it was not part of my experience. The neighbour’s electric mower also is not bad. Birds, kids playing, people talking on a deck, a swing squeaking as it is swung are endearing. They are a big part of our garden experience. Take the time to notice the sounds in your yard, or to imagine the power of none. Enjoy your coffee. Enjoy your garden.

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