Monday, June 4, 2007

Cultivating Delight

In a previous blog I mentioned my delight in a turn of phrase, new perspectives and book discussions -- among other things. But books and writing truly excite me and none more exciting than a recent read: Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden by Diane Ackerman.

On her website, she's described as an 'intellectual sensualist' -- exactly what I strive for in my own writings, but fall short. Ackerman's ability to create a scene, instill it with details for all of the senses, provide information beyond superficial, adding to what you thought you already knew about any topic, makes you fall in love with whatever she describes.

The Internet Writing Workshop's creative nonfiction list are discussing an essay Clothes Encounters by Donna Milmore that appeared in The Boston Globe's Coupling column. The simplicity and tone of both writings convey issues that speak to our souls. Milmore tells of recovering from the sudden death of her husband and Ackerman discusses deer surviving the winter and her relationship to them. When speaking of survival and love, simplicity certainly works best.

Ackerman takes her opening essay beyond the garden wall in her first sentence: "I plan my garden as I wish I could plan my life, with islands of surprise, color, and scent...."

And closes on a note of hope:

"Nurturing...gardeners are eternal optimists who trust the ways of nature and
believe passionately in the idea of improvement....Small wonder a gardener plans
her garden as she wishes she could plan her life."

[Photo at Hollis Gardens, Lakeland, FL by Derrol Goldsmith]

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