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Image and photography by Jannette Cheong

Between the Stones

By Jannette Cheong

Between the Stones©2017 Jannette Cheong. All rights reserved. The images and story/text for Between the Stones were created by Jannette Cheong. Any unauthorised broadcasting, public performance, copying or re-recording will constitute an infringement of copyright.

 

Setting

Between the Stones is set in two gardens. 

Act One takes place in early autumn, in an ancient karesansui garden in the East. The ancient garden inspires and gives birth to the creation of a simple karesansui garden in the West - the setting for Act Two. The noh draws on the ‘setting of the stones’ - the creation of gardens - and the solace and space they provide for reflection.

Synopsis

Act 1

A traveller, full of sadness as she grieves for lost loved ones, including her mentor and friend, Farmor, visits a beautiful stone garden in a temple in Kyoto - a place they once visited together. Arriving at the temple gardens in the middle of a typhoon the traveller meets a woman gardener. The gardener understands the traveller’s sadness and helps her appreciate the nurturing properties of the garden by sharing what is known of its history and mysteries, as well as the art of raking the gravel to enhance the beauty of the garden and evoke a peaceful soul. The woman gardener disappears in the typhoon winds leaving the traveller a wind chime that she says belongs to a lost child. The wind chime no longer has its poem card wind catcher (the tanzaku), and thus remains silent. 

Interlude (Ai) 

A priest arrives saying he must close the garden because of the bad weather. When the traveller mentions the woman gardener and shows him the silent wind chime and ponders as to what poem might have been written on the tanzaku, the priest is mystified. He tells her that women gardeners do not rake the stone garden and that he has never seen the silent wind chime before. Then, as they turn to leave the garden, he pauses and remembers, that he heard news a short while ago, that two children have been reported missing in the typhoon as it passed through the City of Odawara and that the body of only one has been found.

Act 2

Several years later, and inspired by her visit to the beautiful temple in Kyoto, the traveller creates a simple dry landscape stone garden at her home on an island in the West. She attaches a new blank tanzaku to the wind chime she was given and hangs this at the entrance of her garden. After finishing the first raking of the garden, the traveller rests and in a tired, meditative, state of mind she listens to the distant sounds of the ocean’s incoming tide as it mingles with the delicate tones of the wind chime – just as the sun’s shadow begins to pass over the garden. 

As she sits lost in thought waiting to be inspired to write a poem for the new tanzaku she is disturbed by the wind. Then, in her mind’s eye, the woman gardener seems to appear again, this time accompanied by a child – emerging like spirits of the wind. But the face of the woman is now clearly her mentor and friend, Farmor. The Spirit of Farmor tells her that it is the sound of the child’s wind chime that has reached out to them and that the child was lost in the storm which passed through the City of Odawara on the day the traveller visited the temple in Kyoto. The traveller speaks of the pain felt after losing lost loved ones and the courage of those who face death. Farmor appears to question what such courage actually means, and then describes the beauty of the final release before death ‘like winter butterflies in a silent breeze…’. Just at this point the sun’s shadow passes through the symbolic ‘crane’ and ‘tortoise’ stones at the same time, even though the stones are unaligned, and soon after the images of Farmor and the child disappear. 

The traveller is left listening to the delicate melody of the wind chime and realises that two gardens far apart share a legacy - between the stones - of enduring beauty and love. And after Farmor and the child vanish - a new poem is revealed on the tanzaku of the wind chime... 

‘Winter butterflies released,

silent in the breeze,

silent in the ocean’s waves...’

 

 

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Photography by Jannette Cheong

 

Copyright: Between the Stones©2017 Jannette Cheong. All rights reserved. Any unauthorised broadcasting, public performance, copying or re-recording will constitute an infringement of copyright.