Last week I treated myself to what Julia Cameron calls an Artist’s Date, time spent by yourself in an interesting location to replenish the soul and gather images for the creative mind. I cleared my schedule, rented a car, packed a bag with camera, extra lens, water bottle and road atlas, printed out mapquest directions and headed northwest of Chicago to the city of Rockford. Destination: The Anderson Gardens, a large Japanese garden, a park really, that a friend had told me about and that since then had been on my list of places I’d like to visit.
|South Gate – a carved stone marker next to it reads Furo mon, or
“Ageless Gate,” a reminder to stay young in spirit
Anderson Gardens close on November 3 and don’t reopen until spring, so if I wanted to visit I had to get going. It was below 50F that day, with a nippy wind, and at the beginning of my walk through the gardens my fingers froze as I fiddled with the camera. It was also overcast most of the time, and the gardens were bathed in a grey haze. All that, however, had the benefit that I had this beautiful park virtually to myself except for a few gardeners who were tidying up for winter.
Walking through the South Gate I happened upon this little bridge without a railing. I love bridges without railings, little walkways across streams, because the Kurgarten in Wiesbaden where I used to go with my grandmother featured just such a giant slab across a little canal, off in the far reaches of the park, where few people ventured. As a little girl I always felt so brave walking across that bridge!
Waterfalls are an important feature of Japanese gardens, and often they have a stepping stone walkway right in front of them. A little farther on from the rail less bridge, I stood on stones carefully arranged in a stream (everything is carefully arranged in a Japanese garden) and took this video to capture that soothing sound of gurgling water.