Had another idea for a memoir this week, or rather, various threads of my life suddenly coalesced into a project.
“Wilding memoir — one year in a pollinator-friendly Midwest perennial garden (combine with memoir aspects, thinking through conventionality, neatness, social class, precarity, the symbolism of the lawn, vs. exuberant life, dandelions & roses — how to marry these elements harmoniously, the difference between a garden and a wilderness)”
I don’t think of myself as an environmental writer, you know. When you’re in grad school, choosing a focus, you really have no idea where you’re going to be in 10 or 20 years, and I’m grateful that I’ve ended up in a flexible job. This is coming out of running the local garden club Facebook group, also out of watching Jeff VanderMeer’s work re-wilding his home and Stephanie WP’s tireless efforts with West Cook Wild Ones to encourage natives in our own area.
Also from Nicole Walker’s beautiful micro-essays (her books are gorgeous, half poetry) around ecology, conservation, capitalism, and conversations with Angeli Primlani around the urgency of addressing climate change. Also reading Amitav Ghosh’s book, The Great Derangement (which asks why we have so little powerful climate change fiction), and seeing my UIC colleague Rachel Havrelock’s work at the Freshwater Lab (living in Chicago, it’s hard not to think about how critical Lake Michigan is to our long-term health).
All I have are notes right now, and I have put it into the Trello board under project ideas, and I am resolutely NOT starting it yet, because there are other things in the queue that should be finished first. Benjamin Rosenbaum spoke very sternly to me about that a few years ago, and I am trying to take his words to heart, because otherwise, I start kazillion things and never finish any of them and also feel like my mind is going in a thousand exploding directions.
But it’s itching at me. I’d always planned to spin off Serendib Garden from the Serendib Home site — it’s own set of blog / instagram / etc. So maybe it’s not unreasonable to do that this fall, so at least the different pieces on this topic that I throw off in the blogging process will be collated in one place, ready to collect and revise and turn into a book at some point? That’s not the same as actively working on it, right? (I know Ben is shaking his head at me right now…)
But the ways in which conventionality and societal expectations hobble us, leading us to strangle ourselves, so that we can’t really breathe? That’s really all of of a piece with so much else that I write….