Garden Fever Has Hit, and a Little Contest
April 14, 2011
Surely this must go down as one of Nashville’s most glorious spring days ever. Such a day! Never has there been such temperate perfection. The dogwoods are insane. The bees are lying around drunk.
It’s got me thinking about a book I finished weeks ago, Margaret Roach’s memoir, And I Will Have Some Peace There. This weather has me thinking about gardening, now that I’m watching the peonies fatten up, and there’s a ton of gardening in this book.
Margaret did the thing that so many of us fantasize about: quitting our jobs and stepping out of the fast lane. Margaret was the editorial director of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, so if you recognize her name, it’s because you saw her cheerful face peeking out from the pages of Martha Stewart Living. After many years of Success, Margaret did it: she quit, a single woman in possession of a little house up the river from New York, a passion for gardening, and a quest for meaning.
I read this book about 90 miles an hour. I admit to a certain morbid curiosity: is she going to make this story into a syrupy self-actualization story? Is everything to go swimmingly?
The answer is most certainly no–she’s very odd, in the best way: she shares hard truths about herself, she’ll talk to a frog, she’ll do amazing things with coyote pee in the name of garden preservation. She’s not averse to reading a bunch of self-help books. This book is clearly part of her ongoing process of discovery, and I think it will resonate with all women who have wondered what would happen if you stood up, said goodbye to your job, and took off.
The book reads almost as a journal would–it feels stream of consciousness in parts, and I do think she repeats herself sometimes. She was writing this even as she was settling into her new life; I wonder how this memoir would differ had she started it several years after making her break.
But maybe that immediacy is what makes this so compelling: we don’t know any better than she does whether this dramatic break is going to end up a good idea.
Her gardens are a main character in the story, so it was like meeting an old friend to see them in this book trailer.
Margaret started a gardening blog, A Way to Garden. Unsurprisingly, it’s great reading for armchair gardeners and true dirt diggers. I keep up with her gardens there.
Here’s a wee contest, for this gorgeous day: post a comment with your single best gardening tip–and it can’t be to water your plants! We’ll draw a random winner who will receive a copy of And I Shall Have Some Peace There. Deadline for entries is Sunday, April 16, 6 pm.