The Three Friends of Winter

A tribute to the original Green Gulch farmerWendy Johnson

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Before daybreak the threshold gate leading into our coastal garden is etched with hoarfrost. The vast star river of the December Milky Way flows in solemn grandeur across the sky. In the garden, the Three Friends of Winter—pine for strength, bamboo for flexibility, and plum for the flowering and fading of beauty—are lit by pale tides of starlight.

Our home garden and the strong fence and gate that contain it were designed and planted almost 30 years ago by my treasured friend and dharma brother Myogen Steve Stücky, the Central Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. In this rohatsu season of early December commemorating the Buddha’s enlightenment, my heart and mind are turned toward Abbot Steve and his wife and co-practitioner, Lane Olson...

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