I imagine it as shimmering, frozen dream scape. Visitors enter through a valley of columned temples built from glossy blue ice, the capitals burnished with silver Acanthus leaves. At the entrance: curving colonnades, enswathed in long curtains of pure white snow. The roads are paved with clear Pentelic marble, winter sun flashes across its polished surface like diamond dust.
To find my garden you will need a map written in botanical ink, on fine linen, and a well-fitted horse and carriage, fleeced with Prussian blue cashmere cloaks. The route is challenging, but treacherous only if embarked upon by day, for it is the richly colored bands of twilight that will reveal my garden's secret location.
Those who seek this place at the wrong hour will be imperiled by hoary winds that blind and kill. An incautious traveler will stumble upon frozen corpses tossed like marionettes from shattered, upturned carriages. Let this be your warning.
Look heavenward to see the clustering stars of Orion's astral belt. The indigo sky, immersed in celestial light, assures you that you are fortunate. The rose-smeared horizon guides you westward, toward the long, crystalline shadow of a high, slender obelisk. As you pass the hallowed monument, pause to read the inscription carved into its four sides: "memores acti prudentes futuri." Mindful of what has been done, aware of what will be.
An icy forest of stalactites sprouts like dangerous trees as your carriage approaches the garden's gates. Make haste! Your horses have grown weary; the frigid cold has begun to settle upon your skin. Ultramarine lichens bloom upon your boots as winter's dangerous blood commingles with your own.
The gates, adorned with tendrils of frost, sing on their heavy hinges. Only the invited can pass--guardian spirits, wisps of chill and fog that flit like ghostly birds above an icebound landscape, refuse all others.
Walk the length of the wide courtyard until you come to a stone archway at the end of the farthest wall. Enter the tunnel. Hear the the snap of ice above. Your footsteps echo softly in the inky darkness. You see a wooden door in silhouette, draped in a curtain of icicles.
Pallid moonlight ushers you through the door to Winter's Meadow, a roaming space where ice and snow glitter atop gentle hills and gossamer blue creatures nestle in the crooks of snow blasted spires.
Continue north to the grotto. Ice-clotted water spurts from the mouths of lions, spilling into dark basins that reflect sapphire clouds.
The footpath divides near the misty gray mouth of the Woods of Thorns. On the left you see a mysterious, naked statue of Ereshkigal, the Crone Goddess. She gazes fiercely downward, her Lapis Lazuli eyes cold and severe. On the right you see a slender evergreen, its boughs heavy with snow. A high-roosting owl studies your presence.
Beneath the trees the air is hushed. Suddenly your cloak is snatched away. You twist back but the cloak is out of reach, savagely pierced by thorns. Warmth envelopes, comforts you in genial arms.
The path tumbles downward, curves and takes you to the river's icy edge. Across the slippery white banks, surrounded by a grove of fat pines, the Temple of Ice rises from its alabaster foundation.
Be patient. Soon the ferry will arrive to take you across the dark, swirling waters where you will climb the tall stone steps to the temple's honeycombed doors. Before you enter, take a moment to study the frieze above your head: mighty oak's winter buds, enclosed by a twisting chain of thorns.
Through the ice etched doors is the Chamber of Light, blinding at first. Behold a solitary, colossal tree adorned by garlands of emerald moss, rising from the room's meridian. Rivulets of glassy water trickle down its fluted bark, pooling in valleys between stained, knotted roots.
High limbs broadly reach, buttressing the walls. A densely plaited canopy of twigs weaves the roof impenetrable to wind and snow.
Seduced by the desire to sleep and dream you lie upon the spongy ground.
Awake to the baritone breathing of horses and a sharp chill. Gather your cloaks now; shield yourself from the frozen atmosphere. Look around. See that you have been spirited back to your carriage. The sky is decorated with dawn's violet ribbons. A winter moon rises in the east, a crescent of pure white.
It is time to make the journey home.