Photograph by Cynthia Fain. Taken from The Blue Garden in the Peace Park – Poolesville, MD
The jewel of Montgomery County Maryland is it’s 90,000 acre Agricultural Reserve. This masterpiece of nature is heralded by many conservationists, hikers, nature lovers, bird watchers and cyclists. A lot of work goes into keeping this vast expanse of forest and farmland out of the hands of home builders. Preservation organizations keep vigilant watch over our planning agencies, because legislators need to be held accountable for keeping zoning regulations in tact, and focus their priority on protecting the Agricultural Reserve.
In the early 1990’s I read a newspaper article about a Buddhist Temple called Kunzang Payul Choling that was in the Poolesville, MD area in the Agricultural Reserve. I had never ventured into the Agricultural Reserve on foot, so this would be my first exploration beyond a drive through the country roads.
I was given a tour of the temple and shown the Prayer Room – including a beautiful array of crystals. After being shown around the temple I was delighted, to find out they had purchased 60 acres of land across the street, and were integrating magical gardens and trails into the woodland. What a treasure it was to have this park, with all it’s gifts right outside the incredilby hectic suburbs of Montgomery County Maryland.
One of my greatest joys was wandering off the trails and exploring hidden places in the forest. The park has five gardens: The Blue Garden, Red Garden, White Garden, Yellow Garden and Green Garden. Each garden has it’s own special charm, and the trails wind through forest, meadows, hills, valleys, and meandering streams.
After my mother passed away in the late night of November 2nd, 1999, the first place I ventured was the Peace Park early the next morning. Fresh from a night of crying, I headed out to the trail that leads to the Yellow Garden. After crossing over a stream, I navigated a hill with an obstacle course of large tree roots. At the top of the hill I came to the Yellow Garden. The chill of November air and barren trees made a stark contrast to the springtime , when the Yellow Garden transforms into a golden glow with forsythia and other yellow blooming flowers.
After my walk along the trail, I stopped at one of my favorite places in the park where a little earthen mound over looks the covergence of two streams. Getting to the streams was an adventure of grasping trees, while climbing down the mound and to the muddy shore. By the edge of the stream, I sat llistening to the water rippling over the rocks.
Six months after my mother passed away, my sister and I arranged to place a memorial bench in the Blue Garden at the Peace Park. Perched at the top of the hill, her bench, overlooked pink blossoming trees and a stream flowed through the forest below. The songs of woodthrush, cardinals and carolina wrens echoed through the trees and I knew we have found the perfect place for her bench.
We need to look at land conservation as a permanent committment and not sacrifice our natural heritage. Whereever you see a park, forest or farmland, always remember these places won’t be there without our committment to preservation. Connecting with nature and the healing of earth and streams needs to be a regular part of our lives. Take some time to unplug from all the electronic media and find your cherished place among nature.
In Montgomery County Maryland we are so fortunate to have our Agricultural Reserve and cherished spaces like the Peace Park.
For more information about the park, here is the link https://www.tara.org/stupa-peace-park-maryland/