Go with the Flow
Abode’s Landscape architecture expert Tony Milne reminds us to get close to water this summer, for our own good.
There is a lot to like about water, just ask a Pluviophile. Popular theory purports that we are drawn to water biologically as well as philosophically.
A few years ago I decided I had to become a little more interesting, to do so I broadened my choice of reading. I started with The Big Year – A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession. I can now tell a lazuli bunting from a Florida scrub-jay.
I am now reading How to Read Water – Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea. I know a riffle or two. I also now know that rivers do not run straight for more than ten times their own width, which means when you find one that does it has had human intervention. A fascinating read if a little dry, despite its title.
Water has for centuries been depicted in literature, art and music. In paintings, this was often as either a romantic or realistic view of the bucolic pastoral lifestyle. Interestingly enough the term bucolic derives from the Greek word boukolos, meaning ‘cowherd’.
While some may covert a cow or two, in ancient Greece it was fountains that were considered to be sacred. And, that is so in many cultures and societies where water is a symbol of life, health and civilisation. There are Goddesses that represent water in all its forms from sacred wells and lakes to the seas and oceans. For Mäori water is an energy, with many moods.
Water is one of the most fundamental elements of our natural and built landscape. Historically settlement has grown from the edge of water. For years in Christchurch the Avon River has flowed through our city, at times unnoticed. We are now re-engaging with our river, on many levels.
Contemplation of the lives lost in the February 2011 earthquake happens at the water’s edge, the sound of its flow, the reflection of the sky and across river plane trees all subtle experiential elements of this emotive space. Downstream, blocks of granite provide an emotive, playful, social and restful engagement with not only the water’s edge but the life of the river.
Like a good number of New Zealanders, I’ve drifted off to sleep under canvas to the background sound of a bubbling brook, and at other times to the ocean rolling or the rage of rain on a corrugated iron roof. I am possibly a Pluviophile.
The sound of water ebbing, flowing, tumbling or cascading can positively affect your mood and environment. Water evokes a range of feelings when all of the senses are taken into account. In nature, water can be found in many forms and contexts. Water has qualities that change over time and in different light conditions and different weather conditions.
As we slide into summer we find ourselves engaging with water more. Take time to embrace the many qualities of it, don’t jump the resulting puddle of a summer shower, look into it and you’ll be surprised what it can tell you about the rhythm of nature. Alternatively, put on your beats and close your eyes to the lyrics of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water and imagine Lake Geneva with a haze of smoke.
Or make your way to the city of Zadar in Croatia and look and listen in wonderment of its ‘Sea Organ’. The ‘Sea Organ’ is an experimental musical instrument, which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps. According to my colleague Fraser you’ll be amazed, and he is one not to get too overly excited.
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