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WaterShapes LogotypeBy Eric Herman

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions.  And I especially don’t cotton to all the sentimental windbagging that seems to attend the “dawning” of this new era or that.  But on this occasion, and for reasons all too many and obvious, I won’t shy away from noting that it’s good to put 2001 behind us.

As we saddle up for our journey through the remaining 99 years of the new century, I’m struck by the fact that the turn of the current millennium proved a far more significant point of departure than any of us could ever have imagined.  Our world is now very different, and the challenge facing each of us is to figure out how to ride the shifting tides.   

Given everything that’s happened, it would be natural to want to view the future as something very separate from our past.  Ironically, however, one of the very best ways to prepare for the challenges facing us is to learn the lessons taught by what has gone before us.

Learning from the past works, I believe, in many large ways – and those lessons of governance, economics and society range well beyond the scope of this column and magazine.  But in many smaller ways, the past teaches us in terms that are precisely applicable to our own peculiar circumstances – and in that sense, a tightly focused publication such as WaterShapes has something quite important to offer when it comes to putting things in perspective.

Last November, we began a tour of what we call the “Monuments of Watershaping,” the idea being an exploration of how water has been used through the years to celebrate and commemorate our culture and our times.  In this first issue of our fourth year of publication, we continue that exciting and important journey with a look at three additional examples of these important works of art:

[ ]  We rejoin the tour in Florida, with a visit to the classic Art Deco swimming pool at Miami’s Raleigh Hotel.  In this pictorial appreciation (click here), designer and WaterShapes columnist Brian Van Bower shines a light on a vintage pool and the role it’s played in defining a lifestyle now synonymous with the lively South Beach district.
 
[ ]  Moving to the opposite coast, we stop in on one of the grandest showcases of watershaping ever created:  Hearst Castle.  But rather than focus on the California estate’s legendary swimming pools, this time watershape designer and builder Skip Phillips directs our attention to the many beautiful fountains that dot the grounds (click here).

[ ]  Finally, we travel to the Far East and Kyoto, Japan, where Japanese gardening expert Douglas M. Roth explores the history and utterly mesmerizing beauty of Katsura Rikyu, a centuries-old imperial retreat that contains what many experts proclaim to be the world’s most beautiful garden and pond composition (click here).

These three wonderful places put the enduring potential of watershaping on full display – monuments in which we can see how our own personal journeys into the future are established by looking over the creative shoulders of those who’ve reached for greatness and beauty in past eras.  

Works such as these teach us that even as times change and dog-eared calendars are replaced with new ones, many of our finest achievements endure.  In that spirit and on behalf of all of us at WaterShapes, I wish you all the very best in the New Year.

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