Tag Archives: writing

Breathing

 

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/ upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Springside_plans.jpg

Sringside Planss/
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Springside_plans.jpg

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.

Editing

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?

 

Summer Reading

Girl Reading

Girl Reading

Summer is a lawn and an umbrella, and books to read.  All the books you couldn’t get to all year.  Summer allows for trips to the bookstore, trips to the library, all in good weather.  This summer, I am tackling War & Peace again, only this time I plan to read all the war sections. So far Napoleon has made an appearance, and a favorite character who was single in one chapter appears in the next not only married, but with a marriage on the skids.  In between courses of the big tome, I happily read Emma Straub’s The Vacationers and Hanna Pylvainen’s We Sinners.  Before, it was Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, which made me sink into all thirty-eight episodes of “The Tudors,” a show which if not as intellectually compelling as Mantel, was colorfully addictive.  There are the books I didn’t make through last year, and the new ones I am placing in my mind’s reserve shelf.  Boundless summer, that has so much reading in it!