In Praise of Garden Fountains

Atlanta 2013 013

Admittedly I am easily amused, but getting my patio fountain re-started this afternoon after its long-delayed winter hiatus easily reaches the threshold for this month’s potentially blogworthy events!

I have enjoyed my current fountain for nine years now. I found it in March 2009 at the Atlanta Water Gardens; if you’ve never visited their enchanted establishment on Cheshire Bridge Road, you really should do that sometime. (I’ve taken several out-of-town visitors there.)

Although I had always envied the wonderful pond in the back yard of my D.C.-based friend Terry Hanlen, Terry convinced me many years ago, when I was contemplating putting in a similar (if necessarily smaller) pond at my place, that installing a pond of any size would be way too labor-intensive for a gardener as lazy as I am.

I was determined, however, to install some sort of water feature in my garden. Shortly after laying the patio a few years after buying the house over twenty years ago, I began buying a series of small fountains, each new one replacing its predecessor. This large and final fountain its manufacturer calls the “Europa Murabella Greenman.”

Here’s the base of the fountain in a photo I took after constructing a pad of bricks for it to perch upon:

New York Trip 105

A few days later it was up and running, although the climbing hydrangea I had attached to the fence behind it was just getting established:

Latest Photos 008

A photo taken a bit later, when the climbing hydrangea had leafed out but before the neaby oakleaf hydrangea – hardly visible in this photo – got so big it began obscuring the view of the fountain from the rest of the garden:

Latest Photos 031

Much of the time that I spend at home outside at my house I spend in the garden shed my brother Michael constructed for me two years ago. A photo of the shed that my friend Walter took earlier this month:

Garden Shed May 2016 photo by Walter

From my table and chair inside the shed, just beyond the grape arbor that shades the double French doors, I can look out toward the patio:

Patio May 2016

I can see in the distance the stautue that my friend Brad rescued from the condo of another friend of mine, Russ, when Russ was packing up to move to Costa Rica a few years ago. Here’s the statue closer-up:

Garden Patio May 2016 009

My fountain is immediately to the right of the statue, behind the gardenia bush.

Although I can’t actually see the fountain from inside the garden shed, I love being able to hear it from out there.

On the other hand, until last year, I could see the patio fountain from inside the house…

Latest Photos 010

… but I couldn’t hear it! So I finally got around to installing a portable screen for the door in my study that opens up onto the patio, and I can now hear the splasing water from inside the house as well as from inside the garden shed.

Another fountain-related pleasure besides the soothing sight and sound of gently splashing water: it reminds me of my trips to Italy, and inspires me to dream of further trips there someday.


A close-up of the fountain, taken this afternoon:

Fountain Video 002



Abajem III

SGI 2016 photo 5 by Neil

Earlier this month, I spent a week at the beach with eleven other gay men. We split the cost of renting a gigantic house on St. George Island, off the Gulf of Mexico near Apalachicola.

This year’s trip was much like the week spent with the same group on St. George last year and the year before that: a lot of relaxing and conversation inside the house or out on its decks, sitting under an umbrella at the ocean’s edge, reading, napping, catching up with each other’s lives since we’d last seen each other (about half the group lives in or near Asheville, the other half in Atlanta), meditating together each morning, and preparing and enjoying elaborate, delicious dinners. Some of us got up each morning to watch the sun come up, some of us took long walks, some of us took long bike rides, some of us kayaked, some of us soaked in the hot tub, some of us flew kites, some of worked on art or craft projects, and there were multiple rounds of Wizards. After dinner on our last night we watched a DVD movie together – the brilliant and hilarious Sordid Lives, despite the fact that all but one of us had seen it multiple times before. And at some point we all poked around a bit in the nearby town of Apalachicola.

Sunrise photo by Randall

SGI 2016 photo by Neil



In addition to the glorious and comfortable surroundings, the perfect weather, the interesting conversations, the incredible food, the frequent laughter, and some astonishing outfits, what made the week special was the harmonious  ease that flowed throughout the week among this diverse, intelligent, talented, and kind group of men. Doubtless this remarkable camaraderie was partly due to the fact that all twelve of us share many of the values and attitudes promoted by Gay Spirit Visions, an organization some of us have been affiliated with for over twenty-five years.

An additional pleasure of my St. George vacation this year was visiting briefly with my Oregon-based brother Michael and his wife Inice, who were on St. George the same week, celebrating their wedding anniversary (they were married on the island thirty-one years ago). My co-vacationer Randall and I, as well as Mike and Inice, also got to rendezvous with Royce and Martha, longtime friends of ours who live on St. George.

I didn’t take many photos this year, so most of the ones I’ve posted here were taken by my co-vacationers – although I’m not sure who took which photos. But first a photo of Abajem, the house we rented, that appears on the rental house’s website:

Abajem 2

Here’s the view from the front decks of the house:

Best view of the beach

Next are three photos of  our Master of the Revels and the guy who’s been coordinating these annual trips to St. George for the past fifteen years:


SGI 2016 and miscellaneous 013

SGI 2016 photo 3 by Neil

Random snapshots of the rest of us:


SGI 2016 and miscellaneous 033

SGI 2016 and miscellaneous 032


SGI 2016 and miscellaneous 031




Here’s Bradford putting the finishing touches on one of his amazing tablescapes for our dinner table:

SGI 2016 photo 2 by Neil

Again this year, I had great fun preparing three afternoon teas for the group. The comestibles for one of those teas:


At some point during the week, we somehow managed to assemble for a group photo:


A lovely week, with a group of lovely guys. I feel blessed to know them, and to have spent another week in their extraordinary company. The fact that we discussed the possibility of spending a week or two together in Europe somewhere was also exciting!

Many thanks to my co-vacationers who posted photos to the Google Document John set up for us. If you’ll let me know who took which photos, I’ll be glad to credit you! And if others post further photos, I’ll be glad to add them here.