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I’ve recently returned home from my travels and work in China and when I saw this week’s theme of “leading lines” from Where’s My Backpack, I immediately thought of the Yuyuan Gardens in Old Shanghai. These beautiful gardens were first established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan to please his father Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty. They had fallen into disrepair and were almost completely destroyed by the British during the Opium Wars; fortunately, they have been restored and provide a quiet respite from the chaos and noise of the tourist marketplace of Old Shanghai.

Pan was a master of using the “leading lines” to beckon the visitor into the gardens. I imagine Pan Yunduan’s visitors as they were drawn further in, wandering through the harmony of water, wood, and stone, and I can picture them sitting on one of the many benches, meditating or gossiping.

Initially, I was dismayed to share this peaceful place with throngs of tourists; yet, in their lines, I found comfort as I listened to myriad languages and watched them enjoy the gardens and one another.

Visitors to the gardens follow the lines, stopping here and there to look, to take pictures ….

Take the steps…follow the lines into the ancient gardens.

The stone wall appears to present a barrier, yet the beautiful woodwork invites me to enter.

Lines in the garden are not straight. They meander, inviting the visitor to slow down.

Peaceful lines

Lines leading toward rest …..