What is zenpond?

zenpond began around 1988 as a small fiberglass pond 2 feet x 3 feet x 18 inches deep in a backyard of a residence in Overland Park, Kansas. Overland Park is a suburb of the Greater Kansas City Missouri area. Kansas City has reportedly more water features than any other city with the exception of Rome.

The problem with an 18 inch pond is that fish and frogs become popsicles in the winter, so out came the fiberglass pond and in went a shovel. A word of advice to a spouse: when you see your loved one pick up a shovel, shoot him/her before your backyard becomes a $300,000 hobby like this one has become. We have often called this "the 5 year project that john is in the 19 year of building". (For the record, the spring of 2007 is the 19th year.)

Now, zenpond consists of three ponds: one 1000 gallon pond with a five foot waterfall, another a 30,000 gallon pond with a twenty foot waterfall, and finally one just being built in the far corner of the yard. The large pond nearly surrounds a 24 foot octagon deck with a shingled roof and skylight. Other gardens, streams, welded sculptures, and paths complete the quiet ambiance. Sitting on the deck, one listens to the stereo waterfalls. Of course, "Pachelbel", "Ode to Joy" or "Kind of Blue" can be softly added if desired at any time.

The ponds were dug by hand and so dirt was moved from 5 feet below ground to 10 feet above ground (the other 10 feet added in the summer of 2004 consists of 17 tons of gravel covered by 8 - 10 inches of gunite). Eddie Case, john's pond helper moved the 17 tons of gravel in 5 gallon buckets to the top of the large waterfall. 100 tons of Arkansas "Autumn Haze" and "Colorado Moss Rock" were moved manually to construct the ponds, waterfalls and garden walls. Twelve tons of retaining blocks hold up the back of the large waterfall, with more being added as the waterfall became larger. Also, in the summer of 2004, a filtration system was added consisting of a large bubble bead filter and a UV light capable of removing algae from a 40,000 pond.

About a couple hundred Koi call the big pond home. (Koi can become 3 feet long and even outlive their owners.) john figures he won't end up with 200 Koi after the blue heron has several dinners at zenpond.

Twenty-five + years ago "Big Al from Chicago", a professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Chicago, recommended that john read a book called "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig. john has now read it five times, has expanded his Zen library to many volumes, and, at times, makes an febble attempt at meditation.

The intersection of these two events, pond building and studying Zen meditation, is ...




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