Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Labyrinth

Day 231
The Daily DuBrule

When I first moved into my house there was an in-ground pool in the backyard. I never wanted a house with a pool and neither did my husband. I thought "what the heck, I'll give it a try" and for two years I vacuumed, skimmed, bumped, and did everything else needed to prevent it from becoming a giant science experiment. When the scuba diver I hired to repair a leak told me I needed a major repair I decided ENOUGH!

I hired a contractor to remove the pool. Let's just say it was a messy, muddy, expensive proposition but what I gained was SO worth it. All of the sudden I could see the rest of my yard. No more chemicals, loud pump, and peeling paint drifting into the pool. Never mind the fact that it became a giant Japanese beetle trap in the summer.

Meanwhile, I was introduced to the labyrinth by a client who hired me to design around a labyrinth she was going to install in her tiny backyard. I really didn't know much about them but I was intrigued. I started studying and reading about them. It turns out they are an ancient pattern found on cathedral floors and places throughout the world. They are a metaphor for life. You can see the center where you are going but it is a very roundabout and circuitous route to get there. After Kate's labyrinth was completed, she had a birthday celebration at a spiritual center where there was another labyrinth, this time in a beautiful field. I was fascinated with the way it calmed me down and centered me when I walked it. 

Later that year I was sitting on an upper floor at Hartford Hospital hospice, holding vigil for my beloved great Aunt Jo who was leaving this world. I happened to look out the window at the space between the building we were in and the children's hospital. A temporary labyrinth had been laid down on the pavement. I watched people walk by, stop, and then slowly enter this spiritual space. It was amazing to see their reaction.

It took me a long time to design this space. I wanted a private sanctuary where I could come home and relax. During those same months I was working at a job in New Haven where, right behind this property, there was a wood fired pizza oven. I decided I wanted one. Not just any pizza oven. No, that would be way too easy. I also wanted an outdoor fireplace for evening gatherings. 
The next element of the design was the water garden. The contractor I hired (a good friend and a true artist) brought in gigantic, beautiful rocks from his family farm. The result was a masterpiece. During the first spring and summer I didn't have time to plant it properly. A few annuals and lots of weeds kept me from really enjoying this space. Finally, I got serious.
Now it is a serene space filled with fragrant flowers, evening scented blossoms, easy care plants, and textural beauty. I usually walk the labyrinth after dark. I walk it barefoot as the pattern of the stones is easily felt under my feet. Plants encroach on the edges; I prune them back. Sometimes I just sit and enjoy the pattern of the stones. I do yoga in the center. It is a dream come true and just what I needed to help me center myself with my over-the-top, busy life.  


  1. Thanks so much for posting this. I love to see the evolution of a beautiful space, and follow the thoughts that go into making it. The tree pattern is obvious in the labyrinth, and I love that almost more than the circular metaphor. Both are visually calming. What a place you have created!!

  2. What a great idea!! It looks so welcoming! Definitely better than a pool.