Be Calm, Be Quiet, Be Still

As the ferry boat slipped away from Seattle, cutting through grey water that met an equally grey horizon, I could feel my mood shift to one of reflection mixed with urgency. I was leaving the Seattle Garden Bloggers' Fling early and was already thinking of when I had to meet the cab to take me back to the ferry boat so I could catch the train to the airport and hoping I would sleep on the plane for I regrettably failed to take the next day off from work and had to be back at it at 8 am.  (whew.)

As the day's travel itinerary raced through my mind so did the faces of the ladies I met on the trip. I longed for a few more days with them.  I had settled into my days in Seattle with ease; early morning runs and evening walks book-ended days filled with garden tours. I was smitten with Seattle and its lush vegetation, palpable energy, beautiful architecture, endless water and mountain views and majestic trees.  
I am always at ease traveling alone or with Darryl, my companion. This was my first trip with a group and I was a swirl of nervous energy and excitement when I arrived at the Fling. What a treat to meet and spend time with so many garden bloggers while touring a garden rich city. But I was also nervous; I sometimes feel a bit awkward and self-conscious in such settings. A garden blogger once wrote that she blogs because it is the easiest, clearest way for her to express herself without her shyness sabotaging her voice.   I understood what she meant. Sometimes it takes me a day or two to relax and fit in with a new group. I am old enough to know that my delayed adjustment is from within. In reality, the ladies who attended the Fling were warm, smart, funny and very supportive. I hated to leave some of the ladies I had met just as I was settling in with their companionship.

After a quiet ride to Bainbridge Island, we arrived at The Bloedel Reserve. Map in hand, I broke away early from the group to explore the grounds. I had said my good byes and made promises to keep in touch (a promise I intend to keep). With an early departure, my time was limited so instead of flying around in the vain attempt to see it all, I chose to follow the main road back the entrance and take short exploratory jaunts along the way.
I can only speak for myself, but at times, living in the present takes effort, and that was where I was as I made my way down the drive, thinking of what was to come, not of what was happening at that moment. That was until I paused and looked across this lake. In an instance thoughts of travel itineraries were swept aside and replaced with wonder and awe. I saw tremendous stands of trees in earlier gardens and on my morning runs, but there, as I stood in the rain, alone, I felt the presence of the trees for the first time.

Words like magnificent, powerful and majestic fail to express the feeling one has when you truly experience trees. It is the feeling of being so small as a solitary person and simultaneously as large as life as you experience nature and being in connection with trees. It is feeling the amazing complexity, beauty, history, evolution and life that is nature and knowing you are a part of it. When you let go and experience this you are able to look within and be at peace with yourself; a lot like the tress' reflection in a still lake.

Japanese Gardens and Guest House

Entrance to the Japanese Garden.
The entrance of the Japanese Garden has the same power as a great stand of trees, if we are open to it. Before you pass through the garden gate, the design of this garden foyer guides us to look within, to focus our attention on our immediate surrounding and to de-clutter our mind. Stone, wood and a simple planting create a passageway that is orderly and calm, allowing us to focus on where we are heading, the entrance of a new garden space and experience. The entrance walk to the garden is the space that prepares us for the quiet garden room beyond.
Looking into the garden.

The stone and sand garden compels us to look inward. It is a remarkably calming and soothing space in a setting, the reserve, that is rich in life.

Giving into this garden may take time. It asks us to let go and be quiet, calm and still long enough to clear our minds. I am looking forward to the next Fling, where I will see familiar faces, and I will take the lessons learned from this garden to be still, be calm and live in the moment and not worry about what is yet to come.


  1. Just reading this gave me a calm, a very nice way to start my day. It was nice meeting you and will look forward to seeing you again. Louise

  2. Those are gorgeous photos, Jenny, and a fantastic message. It was great to meet you!

  3. I felt the same way in this garden, Jenny. I broke away from the group in order to take it all in at a slow, reflective pace. It was extraordinary, wasn't it?

    And by the way, it was so nice to meet you at the Fling. I look forward to getting to know you better next year!

  4. Thank you for all the nice notes. It was a wonderful place, yes? I look forward to see you all again soon. Cheers!