Kieran Egan had a fantasy. Inspired by a visit to a friend’s miniature Zen garden on a balcony in Nagoya, he returned home determined to build his own Japanese garden.
Like many men his age, with kids grown up and moved away, he was ready to tackle something newand tackle was the right word. Even before he began, he had to spend days hacking at the overgrown thicket where his garden would be. At night, dreaming of roots with nothing to do but grow, he thought less about Zen masters than about Dorothy Parker, who observed, “Every year, back comes spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.” In spite of the running conflict between Zen philosophy and his own rather slapdash methods, he succeeded in creating “a treat for the eye and spirit.” Like Michael Pollan’s A PLACE OF MY OWN, BUILDING MY ZEN GARDEN will appeal to men, and to women as a gift for men. In these prosperous times, when men of the baby-boom generation are often looking for something new, building a Zen garden could very well be iteven if, after reading and laughing at the author’s adventures, they never build one themselves.
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