Skip to content


A fond heart

A fond heart

RSG, March, 2015

My Dad celebrating his 81st

A passage

A passage


in memory of my dad

and with an overflowing heart to my family.



I spent my birthday as an author-in-residence at the Ames Free Library in North Easton, MA.  Through a chance encounter, an immediate spark of connection, and some planning, I resided royally in a  19th c. mansion designed by Andrew Jackson Downing who collaborated with Frederick Law Olmstead of Central Park fame.  I arrived at night, kindly escorted, met, and settled into what would be my home for the next day and quarter.  I settled in with the second Neapolitan novel by Elena Ferrante, in which life becomes even harsher for our knowledge-seeking heroines.  On waking, I discovered I was in another world.  I was inside a mansion. Tackling a kuerig capsule of coffee, a drip coffeemaker, and a precious container of milk, I made coffee, ate a buttered English muffin, and began to read.  The room I was in contained a small library of books on writing, comfortable chairs, and a view that revealed an Italian-like garden, complete with curving low walls, a pergola, and in the distance, a fountain.

After a full day with a visit with my brother, a reading/talk in the library, and a celebratory dinner ( I turned fifty-five), I retired to “my home.”  Then the bliss:  I woke the next day, settled at the desk, and wrote.  I discovered the Italian garden was the garden in the novel in progress.  Only when I came home did I find out that Downing drew plans for  another landscaped manor, on property owned by Matthew Vassar, whose college I attended.

Sringside Planss/

Sringside Planss/

I wish my professor, the late Bill Gifford, could share this discovery with me.  He would appreciate the connection, and would have something witty to add.  I trek back to Vassar to attend his menorial in December.

demarcation: though the weather will turn again

Indira Ganesan, back garden, 2015

After the frost, 2015

The frost arrived visibly yesterday.  Past the woods, I could see the icy white coat on the on the horse fields, and imagine the crunch.  The horses themselves have found a place to nibble, in a corner.  I want to go out to take a photo, but that means outwitting Izzie, the cat that thinks she is both kitten and dog at two years, who likes to run out–impossible task.  Cats inherently need to roam, but domestication makes them restricted to the indoors.  I enjoy standing in my garden, breathing and staring, and she has often seen me, so why would she not want to join?  Coyotes, I tell her, raccoons, poison ivy, the bear if he decides to return.

We are a bloodthirsty lot, we humans.  We read werewolf stories, we kill writers whose words don’t agree with our own, we torture, maim, punish anyone who has less power.  Meanness can be second nature, coded in sanctimony.  To not be like this, one must consciously work toward another way.  One cannot assume one’s own nature is enough; maybe it is simply doing small acts, ordinary movements of humanity.  Happiness is our nature, say the sages; it is who we are.  But one needs to recall to ourself our inherent humanity.

I am thinking this after finishing My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; by feeling trapped by befriending a cat-like Izzie who wants to explore the woods as is her instinct, while I chase after her, which is not mine; by the arrival of frost, which for me is a line of demarcation.  It announces clearly that yes, summer is past, that autumn’s harvest is nearing its end, that it s nearly Halloween, very nearly Thanksgiving.  I will turn fifty-five in between those holidays.

I have some travel ahead of me.  I have a novel that I want to rewrite with intelligence, infuse its pages with intelligence.  Since I wrote this draft, the clocks changed, it is November, squash bakes in the oven, and I have grated cheese over a cranberry bread to eat for supper.  I have dozens of essays to grade, a book to review, but meanwhile, I published an essay, an extension of the deer story, in the American Literary Review.  I thank Bonnie Friedman for inviting me to the table, and the editors for accepting my work.

To Autumn, three versions

The season is in midswing.

The weather station warns that freeze has come; the growing season ends.

 Gather in your harvest. Snow has been seen, recorded.

But weather is fickle,

and warm days will soon replace this chill, for a little while longer, before winter descends.




(This last is Ralph Richardson, and the poem starts at 2:40, but the whole clip is pretty fantastic.)

(And this is an examination of the poem, from The Guardian, by Carol Rumens.)

Recite a poem today, that expansive thing.


Indira Ganesan, Trio, 2015

Indira Ganesan, Trio, 2015


I think it’s been said before that weeding a garden is like editing, getting rid of what is excessive, creating more room for the essentials to grow.  I first heard the editing metaphor from a wise friend who applied it to her home.  Instead of using the trendy concept of “decluttering,” editing her space made it sound more mindful, more serious.  So, I edit the garden as autumn comes with its cool weather, right on time.  The geese, the ones who leave, have returned, and primary colors of summer are fading.  So much in the garden was attacked by downy mildew and black spot.  I let the crabgrass alone, and it grew in a verdant lush.  So today, I waded in, and pulled out dying purple-flowered mint lookalikes, and pushed upright the oregano which was beaten horizontal by a storm, uncovering tender rosemary and chocolate mint.

The previous gardener planted the oregano, the sage, and thyme.  I added dill, more lavender.  The bees, honey and bumble, are feasting on the oregano flowers, and the catmint.  After the oregano dies back, I am thinking of clearing some to plant another rose, a strong scented one like Gertrude Jekyll, or Jude the Obscure. I think I’ll add more white flowers next , for the effect at night.  The success I had with white cosmos planted with seed my first summer has never been repeated, and I think I will move on.

Editing.  What can be reined in, what can expand to fill the bare spots? And how will the end match the spontaneity of the spring, the opening?  I would like to bring in some orange for the autumn.  There is an American beauty dahlia that is quietly blooming, and the purple Diva made its emergence last week like Barbara Streisand at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant staircase in Hello, Dolly!

Maybe, next time, a grouping of one kind of dahlia, instead of lonely specimens.   Geraniums in the front.  The experimentalization giving away to the tried and true. For a kind of subconscious closure, I planted some sweet peas among the morning glories, and they are about six inches tall, their tiny tendrils looking to grab onto something.

It’s all about death and dying and rebirth, isn’t it, the seasons, and literature?



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 686 other followers

%d bloggers like this: