Poet and writer Hicks celebrates the rewards and lessons of gardening in a debut collection of short, lyrical essays.
The author begins with a brief foreword that identifies gardens as providing “metaphors for living,” as every stage of life and death is apparent within them. The prose sketches that follow trace and retrace the cycle of seasons in nature and in a cultivated garden, as well as small miracles of rural life, from a seed sprouting to a herd of Angus cows taking care of a fawn. “The Intrinsic Readiness of Spring” commemorates an unusually long titular season in the southwestern Ohio garden that Hicks keeps with her husband, George; spring bulbs that “tear up through the soil and explode into the warming air” parallel the human soul that “emerges from hibernation.” “Summer Dreaming” recognizes the value of shade to keep plants and humans from dissipating their vital energies in the heat of summer. “The Sleeping Garden” is a prose poem set in winter, while “On Solitude” is a meditation on the role of the garden in providing peaceful alone time “without the guilt.” Other pieces tell of relationships with neighbors and the extravagant delights of vegetable gardening, as well as a foray into winemaking. Hicks’ language is lush and evocative, like the blooming plants that she describes. For instance, after she plucks a ravenous grasshopper from a climbing rose and throws it into a nearby pond, she imagines that the fish “feasted on the insect stuffed with leaves and rose petals.” Although one might wish that the author’s observations would extend more frequently beyond her own garden, the limited scope gives it a cozy, familiar tone and a welcoming warmth. Overall, this collection shows the author’s careful, observant eye and her passionate appreciation of natural beauty.
A poetic examination of gardens and gardeners that manages to evoke the healing power of the natural world.