In the midst of this hectic spring season, I've turned again to May Sarton's journals. They remain, even upon countless re-readings, a miracle of dailiness. No one writes about small pleasures - flowers, animals, friends, the weather - in a such a non-trivial way. Sarton's heartfelt words reveal so much more than the simple details of her writing and gardening life, and thus cast light on our own lives.
Here's a bit from Journal of a Solitude that gets to the heart of why gardening is so satisfying...an important thing to remember in this rushed-up season of chores...
"Machines do things very quickly and outside the natural rhythm of life, and we are indignant if a car doesn't start at the first try, " writes Sarton, "So the few things that we still do such as cooking, knitting, gardening, anything at all that cannot be hurried, have a very particular value"...... And she wrote that in 1973, in a pre-computer world, let alone twitter, tweets, and blogging.
If you're new to May Sarton, (who considered herself a poet first and novelist second, even though her journals are what's endured) I'd recommend starting with Plant Dreaming Deep. And if you're an animal lover, no book better captures a cat's nature than The Fur Person.
In the midst of spring gardening fever, a May Sarton fix is especially welcome, for she was a realist who tempered her garden passion with wisdom like "A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself..."
The painting of a young May Sarton by her friend, Polly Thayer Starr, is in the collection of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University.