It's not too often that I read a book in just one seating. After devouring all its 272 pages, I was ready for more. Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden by Diane Ackerman is now featured among some of the best books that all readers should have on their bookshelves. She pays such attention to details that some critics are led to say that she approaches her subject matter not only with a poet's intensity but also with a naturalist's curiosity. Others are saying that she is a true sensualist. After receiving a recommendation from a friend of mine to read this book, so far, it's one of the best things that could have happened to me this month. In fact, it's such an uplifting book that even in matters of leaves decaying, falling and death, Diane has managed to show the beauty of life.
A Challenge To Discover Her Senses
It's my opinion that reading this book will set the mood to be able to appreciate the small things of life. Once you do that, you will open the door to happiness. Happiness is what Diane found among her possession of more than five hundred plants. As you read the pages of this book, you will realize that once Diane enters her garden, she finds serenity and tranquility. It's as if she had stepped into some sort of trance-like metamorphosis. Her senses become brighter. She becomes enlightened. For about three years, she dedicated her time to working in her garden while documenting every aspect of growth, transformation and death among her living organisms. At some point in the book, you will realize that she enters into communication with the plants. She talks to them and calls them by name. Diane Ackerman's garden appears to be very interactive. It's a garden that is teeming with life and activities. "In the garden, I leave all the mind theater behind, all the worries (of the world), all the expectations, all the conversations that get replayed endlessly. I just bliss out," she once said. That's what most of us should feel as you enter her garden through the reading of her book. Transitions From Gardening To Life Situations Are Excellent
It's clear that while reading this book you won't be able to ask questions about the author's interest in both nature itself and human nature. Every lesson she finds, Diane tries to see what's in it for us, human beings. While she introduces the reader to her garden weeds (The marvelous is weed species that grows everywhere even in your own backyard," she once said), she also makes it a point to show the connection between plants and people. She shows the impact of gardening on the human soul in various passages. "For children, flurring leaves are just one of the older figments of nature, like hailstones and snowflakes. They love to plunge into soft, unruly mattresses of leaves, tunnel through leaf mounds and hurl leaves into the air. Walking down a lane overhung with trees in the paint-splatter of autumn, one forgets about time and death, lost in the sheer delicious spill of color."
Diane Ackerman is a writer who has done her research. You will be able to tell that she is a Science book reader. She is as comfortable describing the fine points of biology and botany as resourceful about her use of the English language. Let's take a look at her description. "Dawn frost sits heavily on the grass and turns metal fencing into a string of stars...Seasoned trackers, we stand still and squint heard, looking for signs....Autumn is stealing into town, on schedule, with its entourage of chilly nights, macabre holidays and spectacular, heart-stoppingly beautiful trees. Soon the leaves will start cringing and roll up in clenched fists before they actually fall off."
Lots of symbolisms and simili given to make her points
Vivid memory, sense of smell and attraction of the sites in the book
Cultivating Delight is truly a gem in that it's book that plays on your senses. There is no falling asleep when reading this book. You will stay awake with the various appeals to your five senses. For example, find out how she describes the transition to the Fall season. "The vast green leaf-castles of Summer will vanish like a mirage. But first there will be weeks of hypnotic colors so sensuous, shrieking and confettilike that people will travel for many miles just to stare at them--a whole season of gemlike leaves." To me, reading this book is like reading a long poem. It's true poetic measures can enhance the prose of fictions and non-fiction.
Who said it is not sexy to talk, write about trees?
Diane writes about colors in a way that shows her education and preparation. "Why do the colors form? They don't, they undress. Soon after the Summer soltice (june 21), when days begin to shorten, a tree reconsiders its leaves. All Summer it fed them and they processed sunlight, but as the days shorten, the tree gradually chokes off its leaves by pulling nutrients down to the trunk and roots, storing them there for winter. Spongy cells form at the leaves' slender petioles, then scar over. With little nourishment, the leaves stop manufacturing the green pigment, chlorophyll, and photosynthesis stops...Camouflage gone, reds and oranges seem to arrive from somewhere, but they were always present, a vivid secret hidden beneath the green plasma of summer..."
Cultivating Delight is a very sensuous book that you will read with great satisfaction. At least, that's what I felt when I read it a few months ago. I hope you have the same pleasure. I just want to leave you with these fine points and observations recorded by Diane in her book. "We've always called the season fall from the Old English faellan, to fall down, which leads back through time to the Indo-European, phol, to fall. The word hasn't really changed since the first of our kind needed a name for its metamorphosis. Then there is that other fall, the one in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve concealed their nakedness with fig leaves, remember? Leaves have always hidden our awkward secrets. Fall is the time when leaves fall from the trees, just as spring is when flowers spring up, summer is when we simmer, and winter is when we whine from the cold."
Enjoy your reading of this excellent book.