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.