French Dirt

July 27, 2015

It was the cover –– a fauvist inspired landscape by Paula Munck –– that caught my eye. And when I flicked through the first few pages of Richard Goodman’s ‘French Dirt, The story of a garden in the south of France,’ I knew I had found my summer reading. I didn’t have cash on me, and the hunchbacked lady behind the till at my local second hand bookstore wouldn’t put it aside, (“look, I won’t put it in the window, how’s that?) But two weeks later when I finally made it back, there it was, in the same spot, waiting for me to pick it up.

“I had a garden in the south of France. It wasn’t a big garden. Or a sumptuous one. Or a successful one, even, in the end. But that didn’t matter. It was my garden, and I worked it hard and lovingly for the few months I had it –– or it had me. This little piece of tan, clayey, French earth, nine meters by thirteen meters, (thirty feet by fourty-three feet) was in fact the first garden I ever had. It taught me a great deal about myself. “Your garden will reveal yourself,” writes the wise gardener Henry Mitchell. It did. It taught me that I am generous, impatient, hard-working, sentimental, boyish, stubborn and lazy.”

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