The Path of Life Garden in Windsor is unlike any other place I’ve seen in Vermont. The garden, created in 1997 by Norwich therapist Terry McDonnell, focuses on the circle of life and the decisions we make. The 14-acre meadow, set along the Connecticut River, features 18 works of art by McDonnell – including sculptures, a granite Buddha, and a maze lined with 800 hemlock trees.
I stopped by the garden for a brief visit just before Thanksgiving. Dave, Phoebe and I were on our way to my sister’s house near Boston, and I checked out the garden while they waited in the car. It was a raw, cloudy day, and I was rushing, distracted and cold as I wandered into the garden with my camera.
Without paying much attention, I made my way into the garden’s giant maze and realized in a panic that I wasn’t going to find my way out quickly. Every row I chose was a dead end, and my sense of direction was all but lost. Eventually, I came across two German tourists and their daughter from Hanover, N.H, who all seemed completely at ease and took the complicated maze in stride. Together, we eventually found our way out.
On my way back to the car, I stopped to talk to Craig Carmody, owner of Great River Outfitters, a business that stands near the entrance of the garden and offers canoeing, kayaking, rafting, tubing, snowshoe hikes, dog sledding, sleigh rides and Tipi camping on the grounds.
I asked him what makes the Path of Life Garden so special.
“I believe that the garden helps people understand where they are in life, and this helps them open up their heart so that they may deal with the suffering, pain or hurt in their life,” he said. “The garden allows people to meet their true self and discover the strength and the beauty of life, and to let go of some of the pain. More than anything else, the Path of Life Garden is a place for reflection and appreciation of life.”
My visit was brief, but extraordinary still. For me, I came face to face with the beauty of slowing down and the importance of trusting others to help me along the way.