Green gets a lot of publicity, most of it good.
• The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
• Green, green, it’s green they say on the far side of the hill. Green, green, I’m goin’ away to where the grass is greener still.
• Even when Kermit the Frog sings his lament, “It’s not easy being green,” he ends with “I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful! And I think it's what I want to be.”
• Environmentally, we pride ourselves in “going green.”
• We look forward to things greening up in the spring.
But then there’s green with envy. Not too many things make me envious, but I met Susan Haltom a few months ago when she came to sign her book One Writer’s Garden at a lovely lunch provided by Main Street Books, our local independent bookstore. The title is a play on words from Eudora’s biography One Writer’s Beginnings. I must admit I had to shush the green-eyed monster as she described her time sitting with Eudora Welty and chatting for real instead of being in my imaginary seat. [See “Moving Closer to Eudora Welty” blog.]
As I listened, the monster disappeared to be replaced with gratitude at what Susan and her posse rescued. Even Pulitzer prizewinners are not exempt from the aging process. As Eudora’s body began to fail, her lovely garden felt the pains of neglect. Tangled weeds and bushes replaced flower gardens carefully planned by Eudora’s mother Chestina and maintained by Eudora when she needed a respite from writing. Both Eudora and her neighbors mourned its loss. Enter Susan, garden designer and preservationist and her entourage.
Susan sat with Eudora to get the garden details and wound up with so much more. They did restore the garden and had many additional conversations that gave Susan a story that wound up becoming what appears to be a beautiful coffee table book. It is that and more. There’s a history of the intertwined lives of the garden and the two women who tended it. There’s the stunning floral photography of Langdon Clay and Susan. And there are the Welty family album pictures.
No longer green, I will read the whole fascinating story again – and will often pick up the book to read a page or two or gaze at a beautiful flower that only needs a smell to become real. If you love Eudora Welty, beautiful gardens, or family histories, you need the book.