Tag Archives: Provincetown

The back yard

Seven summers ago, I started a new life devoted to writing, in Provincetown. Naturally, I wanted to distract myself. My apartment was surrounded by growth. The front garden was tamed by the former tennant, an admirable writer, who grew epic tomatoes and many herbs.  I was told repeatedly, though,  that nothing would grow in the back, though; too much shade, poor soil; wind.

Nothing motivates me more than a gardening challenge. I researched Cape Cod garden peculiarities, studied books on soil improvement, and shade gardens all winter long. In the spring, I got to work.

The back had two bare plots, divided by a common gravel path.  The north-facing cement wall, aka foundation,  featured a tangle of wires and meters, and wooden fences ran along the east and west sides.  The front was seperated from the wetlands by another gravel footpath.  It wasn’t a secret graden, or a reading nook to escape with a book and tea.  Without privacy, the backyard became a place to landscape and learn.  The nooks and bits of garden I’d had before mostly consisted of pots, and not much dug into the ground.  So, right off, I bought a shovel, pruners, and a rake, and the first in a series of garden hoses.   The pruners especially rusted magnificantly.    

Two hostas already grew along one fence, so I took the cue, and planted a few more. I found cinnamon fern, dicentra, astilbe, Forget-me-not, sweet woodruff, and huchera in the local nurseries. I added that year’s star perennial, geranium Rozanne, and some annuals, guided by garden catelougues, books, and sales.  


Things grew slowly that year, but steadily. Clematis came next, and buddleia. I tried a potted dahlia, trout lilies, and to my surprise, I had a volunteer Joe Pye’s Weed. The latter was good for the bees, my gardener friend told me, and she gave me some monarda to plant as well.


I kept trying new things, like margoton lilies, heirloom glads, snake’s head fritilleria. Some plants reassuringly appeared year after year, while others, like the trout lilies and buddleia, last only a five years. One year, the cinnamom ferns kept having babies. But the garden feels incomplete. It lacks a sense of sanctuary, a sense of safety. It looks good in parts, but does it have a sense of harmony? I have my catelogues and graph paper out. I’m watching garden shows and taking notes. If you have suggestions, I’m listening. (Below the next two photos is a slideshow.)740″] Fern explosion, 2017?[/caption]

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A tangle of trees, a host of sunflowers


Indira Ganesan, Bright Yellow Flower, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Bright Yellow Flower, 2014

Today I was stuck in the subway for forty-five minutes, going from one line to the next.  Last week, though, I took a walk, and was very unstuck.


Thinking of Wordsworth, I came upon a host of sunflowers;

Indira Ganesan, Host of Golden Sunflowers, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Host of Golden Sunflowers, 2014

I did not neglect Virginia Woolf,



the salt,


the sand,

Indira Ganesan, Sand Bar, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Sand Bar, 2014the sea

the sea,






All this beauty where I live.


 R.I.P. Mr. BK.S. Iyengar

Back at the Ranch

Indira Ganesan, Ocean with jasmine plant, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Ocean with jasmine plant, 2014


The need for a place to settle down, sigh into the space, and make plans to leave and return are part of the appeal of “home.”  Luckily, I have another year to hang my hat to remain in the same place.  As a writer or artist, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown provides temporary low-cost housing to Former Fellows to move back to town and produce work.  Five artists do just that, writing and painting in a beach community known for supporting the arts since the time of the Provincetown Players and Eugene O’Neill.  Readers of this blog know how I applied for a lottery, and had my name drawn out of a hat to live here, how I packed out and moved from my beloved community in Boulder because I no longer had a job.  Many times the first year and second year,  I wondered if I had made the right choice.  I planted a garden, admired the landscape, watched my novel get published, began a new job, fostered kittens and their mom, lost a friend to cancer, and struck a deer with my car.  By the time 2014 rolled around, I was waiting to hear from various job applications, grants, and the Work Center.  The spring passed in a blur of waiting and uncertainty, as I wondered what plans I could make for the fall, if I could make plans.


Indira Ganesan, weather watchers

Indira Ganesan, weather watchers

I raked Craigslist looking for apartments in Boulder, in Cambridge, In Boston.  I looked at  Princeton, and wondered if I should move back home to my aging parents.  Several bored nights, I wondered if I should pull up stakes for England, or France, or Italy, go to India.  Behind all this question was the unspoken thought: where can I write?  People say one can write anywhere and at any time, but I think a writer needs an anchor, a place so familiar and  unbothered that one can lose oneself in the words.  Hotel rooms work, if they have a view, but  I have never had more than a few days day at one.  I have to live somewhere for three years before I trust it enough to venture forth with cohesion onto  the page.  I don’t mean I do not write at all; I write constantly, but bits and pieces., but the long narrative, for me, requires me to trust my environment completely.


Just a few days ago, I found out I had another year in my home, a delight.  It is an earned year, a year to write, a year to teach  a course on American Women Writers, a subject close to my heart, and whatever else might fall my way or I reach for with aim.  It is a year to contemplate the next move.  A year to see if any dahlias other than the one so far will sprout, a year to  water the plans and plants. A year for the cats to turn another year over, and a year for me to appreciate every day of it.

Indira Ganesan, So Comfortable, 2014

Indira Ganesan, So Comfortable, 2014