Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Gardener's Soul

"Gardeners approach their landscapes with passion and purpose. We garden because the aroma and sight of fresh colorful flowers make our senses tingle. The taste of fresh vegetables eaten as soon as they are plucked from the vine makes our mouths sing. We plant because the feeling of dirt between our fingers soothes our spirits. Our flexed muscles from tilling the earth and hauling rocks feel strong and vibrant. Gardening is exercise. It is relaxation or a chance to be out in the sunshine. The garden is a place to meditate, to party, to sit and read, or a place to enjoy with our loved ones. Gardening is a way to commune with nature and to explore what it means to be human. It is a way to form a bond with our surroundings and the living beings in it. In the garden we learn to gain an acceptance of whatever life offers. The act of gardening gives us time and inspiration to ponder about ourselves and to explore our own souls. It makes us feel more alive...."

And so I begin my book, The Gardener's Soul: Nature's Path Toward Inner Peace. I finished my book proposal yesterday and a friend is reviewing it today. Last summer, I visited 14 female gardeners and took photographs of them for the project. I found these women through my local garden center and was very surprised how enthusiastic everyone was about the project. I continue (is it okay to quote myself?)...

"In this book, I present fourteen stories about diverse women with very different personalities, occupations, and gardening styles. The common bond is that the women are all strongly tied to their gardens and their identities as gardeners. They are also deeply respectful of, or attuned to, nature. Each gardener has her own unique style that is reflected in her handiwork. Each finds inspiration for her life from her garden. Tales of creativity, peace, simplicity, energy, beauty, strength and deference are woven throughout this book."

I have spent the past autumn and winter writing about these women and my visits with them. I wanted to write a draft of the book before I wrote the proposal just to see what I had to say. This is my second book, but my first in this field. Additionally, for my first book I was approached by the publishing company to write it. I was working as the archivist at the Waltham Public Library and Arcadia Publishing Company was seeking to publish a local history about the City as part of their Images of America series.. I controlled the records. They wanted access. It worked out well...but it was a very different experience than what I am going through now. After spending so much time on this book, I feel like I am now putting myself out there to see if anyone likes me or my writing. A friend reminded me yesterday that it took J.K. Rowling about twenty submits to publishers before she found one willing to take her on. So, I'm plugging away and remaining hopeful.

I have also been doing a lot of garden reading this winter. One topic that has come up a few times in book reviews I read relates to garden writers. They say that anyone who gardens and also writes will one day eventually try to write a gardening book. I hope that I become one in a line of writers who actually gets her book published...though I think if need be, I will consider self-publishing. (Does anyone have experience with either publishers or self-publishing?)

Meeting my fourteen women gardeners has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. There is such a feeling of camaraderie among gardeners. I am very grateful to these special people who shared a little bit of their passion and their soul with me by sharing their gardens. Each of these women let me into a very personal space and helped me to see that my little garden is part of something much bigger.

I hope to share more about my book and experiences with it in the coming months. I am including a few photos from the project for you to see.

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