Jennifer from the Amherstview Branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries recently enjoyed the memoir Unearthed: love, acceptance, and other lessons from an abandoned garden by Alexandra Risen, in anticipation of the author’s visit to the Napanee Branch on April 19th, 6:30pm.
“In this memoir, Alexandra Risen plants the seeds of understanding which allow love to bloom,” says Jennifer. “Her decades-long toil on a massive, overgrown garden becomes a source of spiritual meaning, physical health, family connection, and self-actualization. An ode to the healing power of nature, Alex’s account of the garden’s restoration shows the myriad benefits of reconnecting to the natural world.”
An ode to the healing power of nature, Alex’s account of the garden’s restoration shows the myriad benefits of reconnecting to the natural world.
Jennifer explains, “Alex’s eco-spiritual journey begins simply by being present in the garden and recording reflections. Time spent outdoors puts into relief natural rhythms that mirror shifts in her thinking. Alex’s garden practice comes to symbolize spiritual growth: the changing landscape reflects a reconciliation between the wild parts she preserves (the history she claims) and the new parts she cultivates (the space she creates.) The garden becomes a sacred space, bearing witness to a history of its forebears, nurturing an interdependent ecosystem, and inviting participation. Discovery of the garden’s mysteries coincides with Alex's psychological catharsis. Her felt experience of disconnection from her parents, who were immigrants displaced by WWII, echoes their burden: her dad found refuge in silence and her mom turned to gardening. As Alex revisits tensions she felt growing up, the garden ‘grounds’ her: she makes meaningful connections to memories as she learns about flora and fauna once familiar to her. Quiet time in the garden helps Alex make peace with her parents as she comes to a fuller understanding of their tragic past and embraces her capacity for change.”
“Careful tending of the garden makes Alex more aware and accepting of natural processes,” Jennifer concludes. “It is a microcosm for navigating life’s challenges: parenting (planting & watering), searching for meaning (cultivating and tilling), and accepting death (harvest.) Alex’s participation in garden work lends itself to many positive outcomes: spiritual growth, general fitness, family reconciliation, community building, and self-actualization. It is an invitation for us to do the same.”
You can reserve Unearthed in print or e-book formats from your branch of the library or online here. Everyone is welcome to join the County Libraries in partnership with the L&A Horticultural Society for the free Unearthed event with Alexandra Risen on April 19th.