Stone paths in the sloped, upper third of the rear garden meander along and across a stream and three small ponds, converging at a boulder bordered, circular, slate patio where parts of the three ponds can be seen and heard. The ponds were constructed twenty or more years ago, one after the other over several years, usually planned, then quickly dug while my wife traveled out of town over a weekend. (A pond along the front walk and the large koi pond were constructed much later, with my wife’s prior knowledge.) The shaded patio is ideal for resting out of the sun, and occasionally for a quick nap in the Adirondack chairs.
Long ago I discovered the benefit of laboring while my wife is traveling, and now it is best so that she doesn’t pester me. One day I’m not drinking enough fluid, the next the granite boulders are far too large for a man of my age to move without assistance. Often, while in the act, I agree, but once started there is no one but me and the task is accomplished with many grunts and groans, but without troubles more than just a bit of soreness the following day. Certainly, my days of heavy lifting are nearing an end, but I stubbornly refuse to give in.
No doubt, periods of rest are now longer than two decades earlier, but with a mature garden there is less to be done every day and more time to relax beneath the canopy of large Japanese maples, dogwoods, serviceberry, and stewartia. More than once I’ve been startled back from semi consciousness by a fox or deer trotting down the stone path, but always there is a chorus of birds to lull me back into a stupor.