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The pleasures of Write in the Garden

Ten writers in my garden for the whole day yesterday. I feel a huge responsibility for them all, to make sure they’re comfortable through the day, encouraged in their writing and in their bonds with each other. This time felt like more work than ever; I’m getting older. Schlepping groceries, cooking five big salads, preparing prompts, cleaning, gardening. Was going to make a sixth salad with the four cukes I’ve harvested so far but ran out of steam. Bought two quiches.

And then it’s showtime. And it works, it works so well, it makes me very happy to see people bloom, gain confidence, explore memory, make connections. As someone said to me, You’re creating community. There’s always that moment when someone tells a vital truth and the air changes; we are all there, linked to the writer by the power and importance of storytelling. We are a storytelling species. Those moments of community show humanity at its best.

Participants are sending heartening messages, like “What an electric day, full of moving stories, courageous revelations, memorable language with good food & vibes. You are a maestro, to create this fertile space and to develop an agenda and atmosphere that inspires everyone to write honestly and share what they have written. Thank you for your extreme generosity in every way.”

From a writer who’d been at a few before: “I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed today. It might have been the best chemistry I’ve seen at one of these.”
And: “Thank you for your insights, reflections and encouragement and the sense of mutual support that you nurtured (just what I needed, I think). And for your generosity. Your beautiful home and garden + food & drink were terrific, and your apparent ease as a hostess (if you were frazzled, it didn’t show) is a gift.”
I was in fact a bit frazzled. It rained early afternoon and we all moved inside; the sun came back so we dried everything off and moved back out. I changed prompts and ideas as the day went on. A writer who’s gluten intolerant brought her own lunch. Etc. But all in all, a good day. Maybe next time, I’ll hire a cook. LOL.
Okay, I’ve had it with tech today. Suddenly I cannot get the paragraph spacing to work here. Earlier, I logged into the Enbridge website to submit a meter reading, as requested in a flyer I received, and my laptop began to shriek I’d been infected with a Trojan virus. My computer was frozen. I was terrified. But my tech genius Matt talked me through: just turn it off and on again. No idea if it was a hack or just my Mac over-reacting to something. But now – paragraph spacing in the draft but not after publication. How to explain that?? Phooey!
Also yesterday, an essay I’d had published earlier in the Globe about my mother’s silver collection was reprinted in Alice Goldbloom’s Substack. In the Globe, which presumably has thousands of readers, there was almost no reaction to the piece, but on the Substack, I’ve had lots of Likes and comments, saying it provoked memories of the readers’ own parents and what they had to deal with after death. (The essay in the Globe format is on this site under Articles.)
I met my new doctor today. He’s very young but asked all the right questions. I liked him. The only thing I didn’t like was his “vocal fry” – speaking as if scraping words from the back of his throat, as many Western girls and women do. Sam sent me a funny video in which a guy accuses  a woman with vocal fry of having “an affectation that teenagers and rich people use to show they don’t give a shit.” I’m sure my doctor isn’t like that, he’s just of the vocal fry generation.
Do I sound old? Well, actually, I sort of am.
A sun shower right now – a hard rain and thunder through the shining sun. Won’t have to water today. It’s been a strange summer so far, no complaints, only a few days of extreme heat, unlike most of Europe and the southern US, not to mention the global south.
For yours truly, a fridge full of leftovers. Bliss.



2 Responses to “The pleasures of Write in the Garden”

  1. You’re not alone disliking that unbearable vocal fry voice. There are some podcasts I cannot listen to because of that. Are they aware? I think they’re not.

    But the worst is Jill Abramson, EX-executive editor of The New York Times. Was she fired because of her voice? A blend of drawl-vocal fry-twang-whine … truly awful –

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    OMG yes! Unbearable! So it’s not just young women. Yes, I think they’re not aware. As Shakespeare said, “Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.”

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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