The 19th Century poet Eden Phillpotts once wrote, “The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” I’ve always loved that line and the way it shines a light on the rewards of investigation and study.
If there’s one thing that WaterShapes is about above all else, it’s encouraging you to explore elements of design, engineering and construction more deeply – or to approach them anew with wide eyes and open spirits.
Some of those elements are covered in articles or columns focused directly on key topics – hydraulics, soils science, structural engineering, lighting, plant selection and the like – but in many cases, those subjects are subtopics or side notes in the midst of features and columns on seemingly unrelated topics.
One of those common subtopics – color theory – has been brought up as a sidelight in dozens of articles and columns, for example, but we’ve never offered an article specifically focused on the subject. That may be a sin of omission on our part: In fact, that message came through to me loud and clear as I was working with Mike Farley on his “Book Notes” item for this issue.
From his familiar slot inside the back cover, Mike offers an unusually impassioned discussion this time of the value and importance of color theory and how a class he took and a book he read have transformed the way he thinks about color and what he now sees as its overriding importance. As he points out, color influences designs across the broadest possible spectrum: From the most elaborate to the simplest of projects, color choices can spell the difference between success and failure.
This is only the latest among dozens of insightful discussions Mike has presented in these pages, and I’ve always been impressed by the response his words draw from readers – compliments on his suggestions, words of appreciation for book recommendations and general praise for the fact that he opens readers’ eyes to available resources.
What amazes me most is how willing he is to share his personal forays into the unknown: It takes a generous, secure person to consistently point out areas in which he or she needs to improve and grow, and this is something Mike does month after month before an audience of his peers. On one level, I have to admire the self-knowledge it takes to be so open; on another, I am simply thankful for his ability and willingness to point all of us to trailheads of inquiry that are certain to elevate the watershaping craft.
We hear lots of talk about the value of education, so much so that it’s become a drumbeat that pulses behind just about every article and column we print. But I can think of no better testimonial to the simple power of learning than the commitment to professional growth carried in every page Mike Farley has ever written for WaterShapes. And the fact that what he says resonates so surely with other features and columns we publish simply lends depth and increased value to his role. (To see this amazing column, click here.)
Whether it’s color theory, proper flow rates or the construction of believable streams and ponds, there are indeed “magical things” in the world of watershaping that are sitting out there, waiting for more of us to sharpen our wits.