image of Buddha statue in Zen gardenWe climb up the beach, past a couple of falling-apart grass shelters where the beach meets the scrub and follow a rough track through the bush. I’m not expecting much from this rough mountainous outback. I follow Tina up the track to its end. She is delighted by my surprise.

‘This is beautiful, this is so beautiful.’

Suddenly we’re in a real Zen garden. Small neatly trimmed hedges border a crushed coral path. The stony courtyard is freshly swept. Bamboo rakes have tamed the earth into stripes and circles. Flowering shrubs accentuate the sanctuary.

Several freshly woven grass houses cluster in the central courtyard, with stacks of freshly platted replacement roofing under the eaves. Tina’s home, to the left of the courtyard, is timber. Inside is disappointing. The timber furniture, timber floors and walls are dark and unfriendly. I was expecting softly cushioned sofas, delicate furniture and colour.

The outside belongs to nature and it is beautiful, delicate and colourful beyond compare. The women greet me warmly, with a natural fine modesty and gentle elegance grown with care from the land.

Tina introduces me to her family and we go with her mother to their gardens, way up in the hills. I melt into their steady lightness of foot. Sunlight sprinkles down through yellow-green treetops, brightening our colourful sarongs, soft strong faces, tough bare feet. I have almost forgotten the feminine. We cross paths with other bare-footed fan-toed women, strong supple bodies barely covered in loose cloth, walking simply to and from their gardens, part of the large extended family that is this small village.

These life experiences — and many more — are detailed in Dyana’s Anchors in an Open Sea trilogy, beginning with book 1: The Yoga of Sailing.