Hale's memoir is a charming tribute to her parents, artists in New England as the 19th century turned to the 20th. As she clears out their studios following their deaths, she meditates on what remains and how to protect what's good. A rumination on trying to keep up with her mother's gardening was particularly touching:
The garden casts a hush in early morning, as if some old forgotten secret were being silently exposed once more. ... The white maple a neighbor predicted would die has doubled its size in three years, and waves large, silver-green leaves in the little breeze. Instinct says, Do nothing; stay perfectly still; barely breathe.
But there is danger everywhere. At any moment, something can filter through the green wall of leaves, or the blue wall towards the sea -- aphis, green worms that drop by a thread, earwigs, a driving rain to penetrate the windowsills, the ivy under the threshold. At every portal, fortify with shears and secateur, with spray gun and worn-out Turkish towels, to hedge around -- set free? -- what's trapped within this place.
The Toast also recently published a piece on Hale's fiction, which has fallen more or less into obscurity -- a couple titles to add to the reading list!