Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Where is the charger for my cell phone? The largest of the three lidded saucepans? My camera’s lens cap? Despite lists, despite progress, everything feels topsy-turvy and impossible. Besides that, the sun shone on Saturday, Monday and all day today. Do we really want to pack up and go away? We look around our messy little nest and feel homesick in advance. So from time to time, like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand (do they really do that?), I retreat into the pages of Between Gardens, by Carol Graham Chudley and Dorothy Field. The book’s subtitle, Observations on Gardening, Friendship and Disability, includes a reference to Carol’s struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but the only text dealing with CFS are her journal entries. The letters between the two women focus on their gardens, early childhood memories of nature, the idiosyncratic approach each takes to cultivating the soil and nurturing plants, and the passing of the seasons. Beautiful close-up photographs by Dorothy Field of plants in her garden, often set against her own hand-made papers, make the book a visual as well as a literary delight, and the writing of both women bristles with intelligence, sensitivity and creativity that neither time constraints nor illness can defeat. It is a triumph of spirit. Lost in their written garden thoughts, I rush forward mentally, into the spring and the joy of working again in my own worm-rich soil.