Sky had found reference to the Gardens in my "Relocating to the Bay Area" guide, and it wasn' t that far away, so we loaded up the cameras, swung by Krispy Kreme, and headed to Saratoga.
We had one false start due to battery death, but then everything was good. The day was warm and sunny, but as soon as you started up the hill towards the gardens, the trees enfolded you in their cool greenness, and even on the road there was a palpable sense of peace. The parking lot was practically empty. The ladies in the gift shop (where you paid for parking) were very nice, offering literature on history and classes* available, and then we were off.
For some reason, due to our parking spot, I guess, we entered through the small upper gate rather than the grand lower one. Pushing the gates open and stepping into the gardens was like walking into a giant cube of Serenity flavored Jello. I kid you not. The colors, the reflections off the water, the fish... I don't know what it was, but every single care and trouble was just swept forcibly out the gates and left to stand behind us, pouting.
I must have spent a good twenty minutes just taking pictures of the trellis of Wisteria at the edge of the big pond. I just kept seeing images that wanted to be captured. The other day, I picked up a book called the Zen of Photography at Book Buyers (yay book credit), and even though I've not read a page of it yet, I understood what they meant. There were images/vistas/spots that just "clicked" and froze themselves in my vision. I could have stared at some of them for hours. I still have a long way to go in order to be able to capture them successfully, but it became amazingly easy to find them there.
Being on the side of the mountain, the sun played on the hillside like some sort of perternatural, ever happy child. Shadows and light just danced everywhere, bringing things into and out of focus, and hiding then revealing different things. Paths zig-zagged back and forth across the mountain, taking you up to a point where there was a great view of the valley. I chose not to photograph it, keeping instead to what was inside the gardens.
I'm having trouble communicating the feeling of oneness that was there... but it was almost as if while I was there, there was no where else. It fed me and nurtured me, and soothed my aches and pains.
I will definately be going back.
*They offer Chinese Brush Painting Classes occasionally. Anyone else interested?