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  • He's a big man. There's a decidedly Midwestern feel about him, but for the Japanese pruning sheers on his belt, the purple bandanna tied across his sun-pinked forehead, and the quiet of his voice.

    He came to hand-tie hundreds of lengths of long-soaked black palm rope, binding bamboo into a fence.

    Doug works a few days a week in the garden. He seems, though, too, to carry it inside him. Stones set just so, and so.

    A calm walk companion, he points out little. How this beam perches on this rock, a hidden slit down its length, built to accommodate the weather, earthquakes. How the air cools by ten degrees in the shade of the big waterfall. How this gate is where we are meant to leave our worldly concerns aside, enter the dream window.

    He points out little, letting the garden spell its own stories, until at a quiet spot (a robin bathes nearby) he stops on a rough-hewn slab that bridges the stream.

    "Sometimes I pull in after work and just come sit here. I sit right here and put my feet on that rock."

    That round rock midstream. Not the one with the moss. Not the other, carefully planted with three clutches of grass. This round rock, here.

    "Just 10 or 15 minutes... it makes everything better."

    "Once I was sitting here. It was fall. And a chipmunk came bounding down the path. It was going full-tilt. It didn't notice me. Then suddenly it saw me and it stopped fast. Its mouth fell open. I mean, like this."

    His calloused right hand frames his chin, his jaw drops.

    "Its mouth fell open, and three cherries rolled out."

    [Thanks to vxla for the photo, Cowbird for the assignment, and Doug for the talk]
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