Apr 12, 2011

Clipping Your Toenails:

There was a time when we were blessed:  Anne Raver wrote a weekly gardening column for the New York Times.  She spoke Monday night at the NARGS (North American Rock Garden Society) meeting.  Her topic:  gardens that have remained in My Mind and Heart. Abbie Zabar introduced her friend, Anne Raver in this way, "If Anne wrote about clipping toenails, I would want to read it". 

Raver's  "travelogue" began with her family home in Maryland, where she now lives.  It was clear from the way Anne talked about her 6th generation family farm that this place had unconsciously formed her sense of place.  It's a farm with a view; an undesigned landscape of open sky and rolling hills. 

Bill Noble and Jim Tatum's garden in Norwich, Vermont is an old diary farm.  They started making a garden around the old foundation of one of the barns.  "The work of clearing out the detritus from the foundation, gave Bill time to get a feel for the land.  This garden is one of the places that speak to me.  It looks right."

What does Raver love about a garden?  the journey, the feeling of being lost. In describing Douglas and Julia Brine's garden in Pawling, New York, Raver most clearly defined the pleasure of walking around a garden.  She described it as "treasure island."  The dense plantings of shrubs and trees over 6 acres are interwoven to form a tunnel through which you weave your way, discovering paths and views a long the way.  "It has a come hither feeling.  You explore what's around every bend."

It was at this point that I discovered what I love about Anne Raver's writing.  Beside the fact that she is excellent wordsmith and storyteller, her writing has a "come hither feeling."  She works a story in the the same way you navigate through a good garden.


Hors d'oeuvres were served at the NARGS meeting.  A basket of seeds were passed around.  "Take as many as you want." said the President, Michael Riley.  I stuffed as many little packets as I could into my bag.  It was the perfect canape.


paula said...

Anne Raver and M.F.K. Fisher taught me how to write.


Anonymous said...


You have named 2 of my writing heroes in one breath! Yes, Anne Raver appeals to my love of nature and MFK to my love of food...
But they both are just excellent writers, it doesn't matter what they write about, I adore it.

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