One of the nice things about setting your novel where you live, is that you get excuses to play tourist and/or run around doing silly things with a camera. I do this occasionally, as it gets me out of my basement lair and does something constructive at the same time. Most of my jaunts are to take pictures of houses and street signs so I have references for the neighbourhoods I'm using without calling up Google Earth all the time, but sometimes I do funner things. I've yet to climb to the top of a really high building and look down, but I did manage to check one thing off my list last week—the local Chinese garden. I even took the tour!
Why the Chinese garden, you ask? Because I'm writing a heavily Chinese world and wanted to make sure my ideas about the aesthetics were accurate. They were, kind of, and they were kind of not. I've got some cool ideas to play with now, mostly in the realms of symbology and rock sculptures. Did you know that in China, bats are lucky? Brings a whole new meaning to Batman.
|From the paid-for Chinese garden to the free Chinese garden. Circular doorways force people to go through one at a time. Also, they balance the square doorways elsewhere.|
|There are four elements in a Ming Dynasty garden: water, plants, stone, and buildings. The architecture's there to symbolize the harmony of and place of man in nature.|
|Water-worn stones are important, and highly prized. They show different images depending on light and angle, and are meant to be contemplated year round.|
|The patterns and colors of the stone 'tiles' are part of the ying and yang aspects of feng shui. There must always be balance between shadow and light. Notice the dappled pattern of plant shadows as well.|
|There are no screws in this roof. It's all mortice and tenon. Also, camphor wood! Natural bug repellant!|
|And no Ming garden is complete without a pine tree of longevity.|