Erik Chalmers, American born and bred professional landscape architect, used all his skills to manage these very large, complex iconic projects in the Arabian Peninsula. He knew that the multi-cultural and technical complexities required not simply a left side of the brain number crunching iron will; but they also required what he called…performance art.
What is the magic–what are the skills required to succeed on these huge complex projects being designed and built in such challenging and downright dangerous environments? Erik Chalmers’ post project notes give insight into his successes.
But Erik Chalmers, for the first time in decades on an assignment without his wife Madge, was about to learn if he had done one project too many and lost his one true emotional certainty, his one true root.
Chalmers felt what he had missed over the past eight months–the fullness of the water, the plants, the soil, the wholeness–it was holistic, it was an existential comfort.
Following is a short narrative from Chapter 13: Pilgrimage, that imparts some of the landscape connections in The 23 Club.
The 23 Club
Immersed in the contemporary culture of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, against the backdrop of the Empty Quarter, The 23 Club tells the inside story of how an iconic project gets built in the oil rich, Gulf region of the Arabian Peninsula.
Table of Contents
- It’s 2AM
- Spike Lounge
- The Walk
- Rub Al Khali Coastal
- Rub Al Khali Inland
- Liwa Qsar
- The Nursery
- Finding Majlis
- Library Majlis
- Villa Majlis
- Long and Short
The Last Kilometer
Chalmers was returning after eight months on his own. Nobody in the UAE called him Erik. It had been eight months of Chalmers. Eight months of taking care of his own meals, his own shopping, his own laundry. It was the little stuff that informed his daily life culture. It was the little stuff that built up…big time.
As the train took Chalmers closer to his stop, his thoughts turned to Madge. He was returning to his shared spaces, his shared life. Chalmers was becoming Erik again. He missed Madge; but he was uncertain how this return would be. Long distance communications always filtered, always blurred emotions.
Chalmers recalled the worst of his time away…he had not been able to hide his week in the hospital from Madge. He was supposed to have gone to Singapore for silk; but her worst fear came true. He had been injured in an automobile accident and hospitalized. She suffered to hear about it from distance. Sorry just did not cover it…from either side.
He arrived at Lauterbrunnen and thought, it won’t be long now.
He transferred from the train to the funicular. It was late in the afternoon and the sky was overcast. This time of year there was little difference between the valley village and the small plateau up where he and Madge lived. Fall plants were already naked of leaves. The first big snow could come any day. The temperature 5ºC or below; frost threatened.
As the funicular rose, Chalmers recalled his excitement nearly nine months ago when he was asked to help fix the first five star resort destination deep in the Empty Quarter. It had been about the challenge. It had been about his joy in providing beautiful gardens for people.
Now the job was complete. The gardens were a success. The owner was satisfied, happy. That world was finished. Now he was home.
And he was worried. Had he traded off something of emotion and trust, something he had held closely with Madge, just to build a couple gardens?
- Appendix 1: Berner Oberland Back Story
- Author’s Notes
- Plant List
(to be continued)
© 2015 Edward Flaherty
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