The highlight of my weekend was a walk through the Morikami Japanese Gardens with my sister-in-law Mary and my niece Emma. The drove up from Miami and we met at this tranquil garden in West Delray.
In the early 1900’s a group of Japanese farmers settled in Boca Raton. I learned a little bit about them when I visited the museum at the town hall in Boca. They called their agricultural community, Yamato, but the farms were unsustainable and most of them returned to Japan. George Sukeji Morikami was one of the only remaining settlers and when he passed away in his 80’s, sometime in the mid-70’s, he donated his land to Palm Beach County with the wish that it become a park, preserving the memory of the Yamato Colony.
The photo above is a Shishi Odoshi or “Deer Chaser” – a swinging bamboo arm that collects water and when filled, strikes a rock basin below. The distinct sound is meant to startle animals that wander into the garden and eat the plants. I could have used one of these in my garden in New Hampshire where deer and gophers were always eating the hosta and other plants.
We started our afternoon with lunch at the Cornell Cafe. According to the brochure it has been voted one of the top three museum dining destinations by the Food Network and it had a lovely view of the lake and the walking path. The menu is authentic Japanese cuisine.
The walking path is a mile long, lined with slash pines, scrub, and sable palm (Florida’s state tree). You feel like you’re in old Florida, the traffic and crowds are soon forgotten in this peaceful setting. Signs warn of alligators, bobcats, and rare gopher tortoises. I didn’t see any bobcats but we did see a gator in the pond.
And Koi along with turtles, but I’m not sure if they are the rare gopher tortoise.
Approaching the bamboo grove, we heard the squeaking and knocking of long, thin bamboo stalks knocking against each other in the gentle breeze. We were asked not to carve on the bamboo.
But as usual, some people don’t listen.
We passed a replica of a 500 year old wisdom ring, a symbol of Miyazu, Delray Beach’s sister city in Japan.
A rock garden:
My sister-in-law and I chatted during most of our walk. We hadn’t seen each other in awhile. If you are looking for a peaceful escape from the noise and crowds of South Florida, this is the place to go.
I am immersed in my second novel right now, editing and tweaking. The characters are very much alive and the words are getting polished. Once I am finished with this book and ready to let it go, I will need to find new inspiration and a new story. I most likely will revisit this garden, find a quiet place to sit, and let my mind wander. It is that kind of special place where you can leave behind the chaos and confusion. A place to find peace and quiet in an otherwise noisy world.