After a wonderful visit in the Chicago suburbs, it was time for us to move on. The drive took about an hour and a half and put us closer to the Wisconsin border. Shortly after our arrival, we met our new neighbor.
Trooper coming to check out that big white box near his barn.
We set up house at Al’s sister’s place, which is located a few miles north of Rockford, Illinois, and less than ten miles from the Wisconsin line. His sister owns a lovely seven acre piece of property complete with a beautiful home, large barn, some out buildings, plenty of room for us to park, and Trooper.
Barn on the right and tack room/out building behind the truck.
The next ten days were filled with lots of visiting with sister(s) – Al’s other sister lives nearby as well. There was no shortage of food, drink, or laughter.I did sneak off for a day, allowing the siblings the time to reminisce and me to have a little time to myself. I called it my Zen day.
With camera in hand, I set off for the Anderson Japanese Gardens. One of the first lines used on their website says, “Inspires the mind and energizes the soul”. Sounded perfect and exactly what I was looking for to enjoy a Zen kind of day.
The three essential elements used to create a Japanese garden are;
* stone = structure of the landscape
* water = represents life-giving force
* plants = provide the color and changes throughout the season
Secondary elements include; lanterns, water basins, pagodas, arbors, and bridges.
The Founder and History:
Construction of Anderson Japanese Gardens began in 1978, when Rockford businessman John Anderson was inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. With the ongoing assistance of renowned Master Craftsman and designer Hoichi Kurisu, the Andersons’ swampy backyard along Rockford’s Spring Creek was transformed into a Japanese-style landscape. From groundbreaking to today, the placement of every rock, alignment of every tree, and layout of all paths has been made with careful consideration by Mr. Kurisu. In 1998, John and Linda Anderson donated the Gardens as a supported organization to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association. It now exists as a not-for-profit entity and continues to grow and change to this day.
Japanese gardens are very carefully designed and patiently pruned according to aesthetic principles to create a work of natural art that inspires calm, renewal, discovery, and an invigorated soul.
I spent several hours strolling the gardens and snapping lots of photographs. I was a little disappointed that they don’t allow tripods, but with many of the trails narrow, I can understand why.
However, that didn’t stop me from playing around with the shutter speed on my camera. I was bound and determined to finally capture flowing water in a soft way.The slow shutter speed would require me to stabilize the camera somehow. With a little thought, I found boulders to aid me in my quest.
I set my camera on an uneven boulder with the strap securely wound around my wrist (having the camera topple into the water was not part of the plan). I then set the 2 second timer and hoped for the best.Unfortunately, without the assistance of a tripod the boulders dictated the angle of the composition. Overall, it was fun experimenting with the different settings on my camera and using a neutral density filter for the first time.
If it hadn’t been for the temperature approaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit with 80% plus humidity, I would’ve spent the entire day exploring every inch of this 12 acre Japanese Garden (which I may have done anyway). Regardless of the August heat, it was still a Zen of a day.
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