John & Anne Wiley


Rock Garden

On a ridge atop the Santa Ynez Mountains is this area I call the Rock Garden because it looks like a collection of carved stone. Unlike the Murdock estate though, it wasn’t chosen and placed by a gazillionnaire. I don’t think.

9610 Rock Garden

9610 Rock Garden

I don’t know what would’ve left some stones standing out, especially the small monolith at the upper-right. How did enough soil collect between the outcrops to support the thick scrub? I’d have thought with the strong winds and rain up there it would have all washed away before it could collect. Life is so amazing though. Plants find tiny cracks and crevices in the solid rock, and over time little gardens dot the rocks and then expand until the bare “sculptures” stand apart. If the whole mountain were bare stone, would we notice the “sculptures” at all? As the seasons erode our lives, is it the rock garden or the abundant life that stands out?

With so many friends and family departing lately, our own aging becomes more visceral. We’re reminded to notice our weathering process. I remember being a small child, delighted when a passing stranger would smile at me in public. I sometimes smile at children in public, unconsciously passing along those moments. If such moments leave impressions, what of those who know and love (or hate) us?

Sometimes it seems we’re just droplets falling into a vast river. Maybe the kindness of strangers and loved ones doesn’t just pass through us to following generations. It also lays down a sediment in us that nurtures life between the hard places. This is why we’re moved to pass it downstream.

How much has the Rock Garden changed in our lifetime? How will it have changed, and what traces will remain of us in 1,000 years? Rather than some outline of the shape that once stood here, a grain of sand that makes its way down to the sea.


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