Friday, April 10, 2015


Yesterday my daughter Rosalind sent me a quote from Cicero.  It was posted on Facebook by one of her old professors.  "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."

We need nourishment for the spirit.  We need nature and quiet endeavor, and to value the life of the mind. Both libraries and gardens are cultivated and curated. They suggest work well done, as well as time for contemplation.

our library

But old houses that fit snugly in their land are being torn down all over our neighborhood to make way for big houses that do away with most of their gardens. I'd like to think these new homes will contain libraries - but it's more likely that they will have flat screen televisions and granite countered kitchens.

As I write this, I am looking out of the library window onto our garden - and in the vine directly outside is a little finch with a red crested head. He and his mate have been staking out the vine for the last several weeks. I'm hoping they are going to build a nest here. I've tried to get close enough to photograph them, but they are too quick for that.

our cherry trees are also blooming

 "It's sad to think of people who cherish gardens and libraries being forced to part with them by the forces of time and unimaginative people's money," Rozzie told me.  I had said we might have to move from here if it gets too McMansiony.   Why would we want to live in a place full of enormous houses and no trees, I said. The cute little yellow stucco house across the street is going to be torn down in the next few weeks.  Russian Alex's house down the road is slated for demolition too and the field where our children once played soccer now has two enormous houses.

Of course, this neighborhood was always meant for little children. It's in walking distance to a wonderful elementary school.  People with children need bigger houses and bigger is better in the minds of many people.  There is a community spirit about this neighborhood but while Ben and I like holding parties in our back garden, our friends across the street who have four children like to give parties in the middle of the road - block parties - with hotdogs and folding chairs set up on the tarmac and children playing on a water slide in the front.  The back yard is entirely neglected when they entertain. Maybe they think of it as wasted space. So perhaps it's time for a new era in this neighborhood. Different places for different types of people.

And who says that a library has to be in the home?  After all, we live in a county with a superb library system with twenty seven branches.  I teach a program for them in fact, called Changing Lives Through Literature and also run one of their many library book clubs. You don't need a dedicated library in the home in order to surround yourself with books.

A forgotten corner, which I wouldn't normally photograph

 But how nourishing it is if you can have your own private library.  And our garden is one of the greatest joys of our lives!  

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