I had just come back to the Island and Edie invited me over to see her garden. I came the next morning. The sun had just come up and the dew was still on everything.
This is Edie's farmhouse. Edie has improved the insulation and the windows and the electricity, put on a new cedar roof. She’s restored the house with careful respect for the past. It’s a true old Block Island farmhouse and she’s kept it that way.
Edie loves her garden, but it’s not just flowers, it’s the memories … Edie's garden contains flowers that have been given by friends. She remembers each person and the name of each flower. There is a rose in memory of her mother and a beautiful young red maple tree in memory of her son, Peter. There is another rose planted by her grandmother. And yet another, the rose you see to the left of the door, is called "Seven Sisters". It was planted by her great-grandmother. This is a close-up of that rose.
Edie’s is one of the old Block Island families. It hasn't been easy to endure through years and generations on this island. I knew that… I have heard the stories. (I've been lucky enough to have heard Edie’s many wonderful stories through all the many years. I have heard of strength and skill and courage and constant, diligent attention. And hard, hard work. And love for the ocean and for the depth of beautiful, difficult lives.) But nothing brought it home to me as much as seeing her great-grandmother’s rose.
I think of Edie and her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother tending that rose …keeping it going through wars and recessions, through illness and hardship. Edie’s great-grandmother planted this rose in this spot for her new home. That was in the 1850’s. Edie is 85 and she tends it still.
Here are some of the flowers in Edie's garden. And there are many, many more.
I love this peony, perfect and new, in the very first seconds of new morning light.
I have always thought of flowers as symbols of ephemeral beauty, but until hearing about Edie's great-grandmother, I never thought of their endurance. Some of these flowers will likely outlive us all.
Here is a picture of one of Edie's sheds:
I thought you might like to look closer and notice the little white stones.
Edie's mother was born in Sicily. She transplanted herself here to the island where she turned herself into a Yankee, a hardworking Block Island fisherman's, farmer's wife.
Edie's mother picked up a child's sand pail and filled it with only white stones when she went to the ocean. She lined the wooden walk Edie's father installed from a piece of dock wreckage found on the east beach.
There isn't one little thing in this whole garden that doesn't matter to Edie, that isn't done on purpose. She knows every plant and every story. She does exactly what each plant needs exactly when it needs it. She does it every day. This is what Edie really does in her garden: She tends and keeps and considers and loves and remembers. This is what makes her such a good friend.
I know when Edie needs to rest her mind she goes out into her garden… she loves her roses the way I love my pictures.
She just got a camera… and she already knows how to use it. She's begun to take pictures of her garden. There’s no telling what she’ll do next.
PS. Edie called to especially remind me to thank Lexi Dewey and Marybeth Jarrosak for their diligent labors in her garden. They have helped her, always, even in Marybeth's case, coming from Colorado, just when she's needed it the most.