My mind is used to running amok and having its own way.
Enter: Gardening. It quiets the mind, allowing it to sink into a calm inner spaciousness, free of the usual babble and drama.
Margaret Roach, author of And I Shall Have Some Peace There, reached a point of dissatisfaction with her out-of-control city life, exited the corporate culture fast track and started up a new road. At Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Margaret’s financial and professional rewards were Beyond Big. But she couldn’t seem to quiet her ‘monkeymind’. And so began the shift away from a ‘lonely life among six hundred colleagues’ to a more joyful, creative, and meaningful one.
She deleted her mroach@marthastewart dot com identity, loosened the grip on her old life, and took time ~ lots of time ~ to reflect….and garden.
Like an insect that shuts down to avoid harsh conditions in its environment, Margaret hunkered down in the garden to survive. Here, doing rote chores, she is in the moment, her mind and body at peace, at attention and one with the task. In her memoir, Margaret takes us into the garden that saves her. She teaches us a simple truth ~ that the longest journey begins with a single intention.
“For peace comes slow, dropping slow.” Her journey is brain-draining, heart-plundering, soul-shearing, sit-down-and-brace-yourself amazing.
Sounds hard? It is. Is it worth it? Ask Margaret. Her 1drfl website is pure Linnaean genius, full of horticultural how-to and woo-woo with links to swell stuff. HNL (that’s texting code for whole ‘nother level) ~ The Woman and The Website.
Margaret Roach. Gardener. Author. Sage. Her new book, the backyard parables, is full of life lessons, stories from a life spent digging, in and out of the garden.
Margaret is not a remote, distracted onlooker of life, but a poetic gentle-minded person who cultivates, digs, and hoes, turns, buries, and loosens, pats and smooths, mixes and stirs, leaving what she finds for us to receive with head and heart.
In spring, Nature turns green. And red, pink, crimson, rose, violet, and scarlet. Fat buds burst with fragile plumes, lacy fingers, wispy down.
This is a glorious month for a gardener. And to visit gardens. Especially Margaret’s garden in Copake Falls, New York.
I drove the evensong-mellow road flanked by horse farms and fields to her garden.
The sky on Saturday was a dull illuminated gray. My shoes were damp, but not my spirits. I got to tromp around the emerald green grass, follow stone paths and knobbly walls, as Spring pressed in on this plot of earth. A wide expanse of green slopes down to the house, an invitation to meander and meditate. Anchorage for the soul.
Small pleasures fill a gardener’s mind, and there is much to admire here.
Margaret has made a little Wonderland for gardeners, a place where each of us can be Alice.
There is a special grace in the many colors and textures. Fairy tale trees lend a bit of whimsy, shrubs grow in eye-catching harmony, and plants loll about doing Nature’s business with a flourish.
In it all, there is an artist’s sense of design and it sets ideas burning in my head. I am inspired by her garden and her resolve. Gardeners may not see a newly-planted tree grow old but what an act of faith it is to plant one.
Little things turn a strange land into a home, as Margaret knows.
Her house has a bright red door and two porches, elegant in their simplicity. I can almost picture the upstairs window, in the kind of dark night found here on Valley View Road, with a single light shining yolkily out and stippling a small swath of the stone landing.
I didn’t see beyond that door or inside the potting shed but I imagine them to be full of Mason jars, jelly glasses, pails and pots, crocks and tools for body and mind.
Margaret graciously stepped out of the spotlight so I could meet Jack. What an asset he is, this self-possessed cat she introduces readers to on her blog, the place I find ideas in a smart syllabus for self-education. Pure honey.
I am grateful to Nature and Margaret Roach. What I need is here in the garden, where it’s always a good day. A joy of obsession, I carry it around in my earthly mind, know that it’s waiting for me when I get home ~ a place where compost is religion, a place to put down roots, grow up, grow old, and have some peace.