“Gardening” at Fool’s Paradise

You can’t plant a beautiful garden or write a novel that sings without putting in long hours. (Holly Robinson, The Huffington Post)

So next week I’m heading to Fool’s Paradise on the Scarborough Bluffs (near Toronto) for a month-long gardening (aka weeding/revising) expedition. The property is the former home of Canadian artist Doris McCarthy who, upon her death in 2010 at the age of 100,images (4)generously bequeathed her home to the Ontario Heritage Trust to be used for artistic residencies. (thanks also to the Canada Council for the Arts who awarded me a travel grant for this venture.) This is the first year of the DMAIR program, and I’m pretty excited to be one of the first artists in residence at Fool’s Paradise. It looks like a beautiful, inspiring place, as you can see here:

 

 

mccarthyDoris reminds me very much of my Nana Mingo (with Gramps in the header image), who was also born in 1910 and a great gardener herself. Here’s Doris at Fool’s Paradise a few years ago; I suppose it looks more like a snow shovel than a gardening one, but the grounds are lovely, and, from what I’ve read, she was a fascinating woman – independent, determined and feisty. She built a lot of her home herself. I can’t wait to be in her space, possibly soaking up some of her spirit, perhaps enjoying a virtual cup of tea:) Having read three autobiographies, I would love to have met Doris in person.

I’m eager to immerse myself in the great gift of having mental (and physical) peace and quiet for an entire four weeks, alone with a novel I’ve been thinking about and writing for close to three years. I’m connecting two girls at a distance of 260 years, without using any time travel, magic, etc., so it’s been an interesting process, putting together the pieces of the puzzle while incorporating as much of my research as possible.

I’ll be going to Fool’s Paradise with a complete manuscript in hand, and my objective will be to do some weeding – ripping out the invasive bits threatening to choke off the good bits, while hopefully preserving some of the more beautiful wildflowers disguised as weeds. Like weeding, the work of revising is never quite finished, but my plan is to return home in September feeling like I’ve done the best I can with the manuscript – and, with any luck, I’ll have trimmed away a few of the 70,000 words – if there are any I can bear to part with, that is…

So how’s your weeding going? Your revising? Have you ever gone on retreat with just your words and characters for company?

9 thoughts on ““Gardening” at Fool’s Paradise

  1. Sounds like a perfect get-away to do some serious revision. Enjoy very minute. I am trying to do the same here in Spain but find I have too many distractions. Your new novel sounds wonderful! Love the picture of your grandparents in the header.

  2. What a precious opportunity. I’d gladly spend time in a place called Fool’s Paradise. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not in one now.

    • When Doris bought 12 acres overlooking Lake Ontario back in the 1930s, her mother thought it was a bad idea; hence the name. She lived and painted here for about 65 years, and it’s a pretty inspirational spot. It’s like living in a museum as the house was left as it was when she lived here – I keep smiling every time I see a picture of her on the walls.

  3. Shed a few tears when I saw my 2 all-time favorite gardeners, Nana & Gramps, in your blog header. And, I was going to ask if you had researched our family ancestry to see if Doris, per chance, had any Mingo (or perhaps Torraville) genes….lol Kind of an uncanny family resemblance I’d say! As for my garden weeding – I’m beginning to embrace appreciation for that wild, rambling feeling it invokes 🙂

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