A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Ukraine, 2009-2011), historian, college teacher, and retired nonprofit director, Fran offers a multi-layered perspective on current issues, culture and community. A different voice. A unique perspective. From the bottom up.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Andy's Garden Varieties
In San Miguel, December 2012.
I told my
sister Andy, who is one of my biggest blog fans, that she should start a blog
of her own.She can call it “Andy's Garden Varieties,” because gardening is
such an important part of her life, as it was our mother’s, and it is mine.
living in Tallahassee, Florida, all her adult life, has always
started her garden ahead of the rest of us who live up North.
I remember her
writing to me in February or March to
tell me she had planted lettuce and peas and some flowers. We were in the midst of a blizzard. It made me jealous to think of her digging in the soil and basking in the
sun. “Springtime comes to America through Tallahassee,”
she’d say, telling me about the red buds, azaleas and dogwoods gracing Florida's capital. Meanwhile, up here in winterland, the
crocuses weren’t even pushing up through the cold hard ground.
Since Andy can be,
and is, in her garden most of the year, "Garden Varieties” fits. Besides, it has so many meanings, from the ordinary to
the extraordinary, the prosaic to the poetic.
You could write
about a commonplace or ordinary moment, a politician’s garden-variety speech on
a social issue, or a garden-variety but wonderful moment with a grandchild,
like applauding a horribly out-of-tune elementary school band where kids aren’t even on the same page, or a church or school play where the kids either
remember or forget their lines and make us laugh.
You could talk
about the variety of plants, fruits, vegetables and flowers in a garden, in
your garden, in anyone's garden. How many varieties of roses are there? Of tomatoes or raspberries?
Of lilies and fern? How is our food
grown, processed, shipped and cooked? How many varieties of human beings, places and ideas?
You could riff
about the paintings of Monet or Van Gogh or other artists you like. The vividly exotic flowers of Gauguin, or the quiet domestic garden scenes
of Mary Cassatt. You could weave poetry
and music in and out of your essays, add more diversity and wild exuberance to
You could talk
about "the seeds of change," from those planted by the indigenous peoples of America to
those planted by Europeans in a new world, to those we have inherited from our
parents and grandparents. Loren used to
say “I plant seeds” when he was talking about his environmental or political
You could talk
about roots and foundations of gardens, of democracy, of reform, of everyday life, of ideas and movements.
Varieties. A great title for my sister’s
blog-to-be. Now if only I can get her out of her garden to read
this polemic, partly tongue-in-cheek, partly tribute to Andy’s creativity, partly a big sister’s
goading, partly a big sister’s wishes for a little sister on her birthday!