Ten or fifteen years ago I planted three willows on the other side of my small brook. They’re a variety called Hakuru-Nashiki. They only grow to be about fifteen feet tall and wide, and have leaves with pink, white and green in the early summer. Mine grew together into one huge clump.
I recently took my pruning shears and went into the middle of the clump. I cut back branches to create sort of a room inside. I pulled up ferns and brambles growing underneath the willows, and then spread mulch over the ground. The addition of a couple of Adirondack chairs made it a perfectly splendid place to wind down.
I’d originally built the space for my grandchildren, and they do, in fact, love it. But they live some distance away and only visit occasionally - while I sit there almost every day.
And the first time I did, I realized that something was missing. It was, in fact, too quiet. The brook going by was almost silent. I wanted it to babble, so I set out to add some babble to my brook.
First, I got some large stones and placed them in the brook to dam it up. But the water just went through the spaces in between and still made no sound. So I added a few bricks to see if I could dam it up better – but it was still too quiet. Finally I got a hoe and dragged gravel and sand from the bottom of the stream to the stones to build up a gradual incline. That did it. Water now flows up the incline, over the stones, and splashes by my retreat.
More and more often these days the news is unsettling, even grim: from Orlando and Turkey to Brexit and beyond. And while I can’t control events, I can limit how much time I spend immersed in the news.
So now, when the news gets to me, I head for the garden where I pull weeds, mow the lawn or plant flowers. And now I can sit outdoors in a peaceful, private place and listen to my brook sing me a soft little song. Or as I like to say - it burbles.