By Michele Reed
On July 16, my friend Kristin and I set out on the Mad River Arts Garden Tour. We were newcomers to last year’s event, which we enjoyed, despite the intermittent light rain. This year, it was a glorious, sunny day, and with tour map in hand, we first headed into the hills of Fayston. This splendid adventure took us on some unfamiliar roads deep into the woods, and others that quickly climbed to what felt like the top of the world!
Gardening is a passion of mine, as I’m sure is the case for many of the other garden viewers. For those of us who plant, prune, divide, mulch, weed and water for hours, and then almost crawl into the house in need of pain-relieving salve, there is perhaps a particular empathic admiration we have for the gardener who manages to get all of their gardens simultaneously in tip-top shape, with no weeds, clean edging, etc. But whether it was a tidy garden or one less groomed, or a garden designed by the owner vs. a professional landscaper, they all clearly showed evidence of devoted attention, perseverance and creativity.
We saw vast views, reminiscent of scenes from “The Sound of Music,” juxtaposed with quiet, meditative garden nooks and gracefully curved beds with dramatic spays of perennials, pleasingly arranged for height, color and texture. Rock walls defined many of the spaces, and one gardener stacked cut firewood as a unique alternative backdrop behind one of her very long beds. At some garden sites, artisans displayed and sold their work, which was an unexpected treat! The places we visited had eye-catching photography, spectacular jewelry and gorgeous hand-dyed silk and cotton clothes. Due to a time constraint, we missed the floral arrangements, and the Interpretive Garden, but hope to see them next time around.
On our way to see the last garden, we stopped for a bite to eat at the East Warren Community Market on the Roxbury Mountain Road. How is it possible that I have lived in Moretown for decades without ever stepping into this gem? I instantly knew I liked this place when we spotted the cute, red loaning library cupboard on the store’s front porch. (I love seeing these in many places, including the Waterbury dog park!) Quickly glancing at these free books, I was drawn to a very little one, “Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis,” written by Wendy Cope in 1986, and was delighted to see it was a book of poetry. Tucked between the last page and the back cover were old discolored newspaper clippings -- reviews of the book and an article about Kingsley Amis. Without reading those, nor having any previous knowledge of the book, I tucked it under my arm, with an intuitive sense that it was a treasure, a feeling that I was soon to share about the store itself. My thanks to the person who left that book to be found by an appreciative other. I will be making a return trip to this memorable market soon!
Looking at the breathtaking vista, as we descended the Roxbury Mountain Road, and while reflecting on our day’s journey, Kristin noted, “It’s like being a tourist in our own back yard!” How true!
I’ve always felt it’s good for my soul to stroll through a garden. On this day, having added a good friend, artisans selling their creations, and a perfect summer day in the Mad River Valley, left me filled with contentment, inspiration and gratitude. Many thanks to the dedicated people who planned and worked at this event, to those who shared their heavenly sanctuaries, and last but not least, to whoever ordered the absolutely sublime weather!
Michele Reed lives in Moretown.