|A quilt for a tablecloth makes for a country formal picnic
LA County Arboretum and Garden - from their Facebook Page.
Landscape. A two syllable word which opens endless linkage to the context of our lives.
|Brea Canyon painting, by John Anderson . Photograph by Gene Sasse captures my neighborhood.
We are products of the landscapes which envelop our lives. Doyenne of modern American writing and founder of the Napa Valley Wine Library, Mary Frances loved California, her descriptives of one place, frequently redolent with memories of other times, other locations. Best known as the originator of the genre of passionate renderings of home craft we enjoy now. Her “cookbooks” reach beyond the making of food, but commemorate values learned communing with land, community and each other.
|Dijon France Mustard Field, from Pinterest, Steven Block
|Dillwyn Parrish with Mary Frances in Hemet Image by Counterpoint Press, Berkeley, California
Then Switzerland, with her second and most passionate companion, artist Dillwyn Parrish. They started as Laguna Beach neighbors , whose respective marriages failed. He was very encouraging with Mary Frances’s writing. And complicating her life as only one deeply loved can.
In 1938, the couple married, and she wrote of the Swiss mountainside where they inhabited as being where large trees leaned, pushed by wind. The sudden onset of a circulatory disease required her husband’s leg be amputated. In 1939 there was no escaping war was coming to Europe. The couple stocked up on a pain medication not available in the US, fleeing back to the US. They set up home keeping in a modest cabin on 90 acres in the hamlet which Hemet was at the time. They proceeded to fit it to their needs, which meant including a studio for her husband to paint in. Forebodingly, his best known works from this time were dominated by images of the angels of death.
devastatingly ill, his sister largely supported them on the land overlooking
groves of apricots and acres of roses. Mary Francis painted with words grounded with grace, scenes such as watching a rainbow grow and die. The property itself: a visitor once described
as being full of “red rocks and rattlesnakes.”
|Wyoming rainbowm image by Trevor Plunk
In 1942, facing further amputations due to incurable Buerger’s disease and unable to procure the only pain medication which gave him relief, 47 year old Dillwyn walked a short distance from his home into the countryside. He chose a bullet to end his pain.
Paula Panich began reading M.F. K. Fisher 40 years ago. She was living in San Francisco, the epicenter of the food revolution which she good-humoredly describes as having grown into something of a “splinter religion” where food is the great metaphor for nourishment and shelter.
How does one read the same author for so long, and still eagerly return? Because Mary Francis’s unique writing style braids food, travel and memoir is accessibly authoritative. Great writers, as our own lives are expanded as experience become, we can return to the pages to mine ever deeper layers of intoxicating language. In the words of the poet Rilke,” The world is large, but in us, it is as deep as the sea.”
|Author/ Teacher/ Speaker Paula Panich with Mitchel Bishop, Arboretum Associate Curator of History and Photographer Ilana Panich-Linsman
Arboretum Librarian Susan Eubank told the capacity crowd, that she intends today to be the inaugural edition of lectures at the Los Angeles Arboretum and Garden.
Until we meet again, thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful.