Every summer, my family reunites in the Town of Schroon Lake, in northern New York State. We’ve been vacationing there for over thirty years. Although this venue is magical even in the rain, one season, after too many overcast days, I decided to spend some time at the local public library.
A few years ago, before donating to that library a copy of a children’s book about mountain climbing that my daughter had written, [“Maxwell’s Mountain” by Shari Becker] I wanted to find out if they already had it on their shelves. There are a few kid-friendly mountains to climb in the area surrounding Schroon Lake.
By going online, I discovered that three public libraries in three different towns were sharing one copy of her book. That information led me to believe that state funding for libraries was an issue.
Nevertheless, when I went there to pass the time, I found a modest but thorough selection of garden books on their shelves - enough to inspire me to push the creative boundaries of my garden back home.
Years later, I shared with a friend the pleasure that I received from the gardens I created and he, the editor of the internationally read book review site Bookpleasures.com, asked if I would review gardening books for his readers.
After posting my first review, he contacted me to tell me how much he enjoyed my writing and inquired if I had given any thought to creating a blog about gardening.
From my first ever book review; he concluded that I had a writer’s voice. That came as a surprise to me because I had never written before. Nevertheless, his words were complimentary and inspiring. Over time, his encouragement for me to explore my newfound writing skills was unrelenting. Eventually, I created this blog. In addition to posting to Bookpleasures, I made my reviews an integral part of my site.
However, from continuously reading books to review and then keeping them for myself, I ran out of space on my bookshelves and there was no room for additional publications. I thought that I might solve the problem by donating books as fundraisers to garden clubs I addressed. However, I accumulated books faster than I was hired to speak.
The only permanent solution was to clean house. To help me decide what to keep and what to give away, I divided my gardening book collection into two sections. In one pile, I placed those that continue to make me a better gardener and that I wanted to keep, and in the other, I placed those that, once reviewed, I was happy to hand out to others. Unfortunately, not one of my friends, relatives, or neighbors enjoys reading such publications. Sadly, none is into gardening to the extent that I am.
Occasionally, when online blogging colleagues commented that they enjoyed a review that I posted and that they were adding a specific book to their wish list, I was tempted to send them my copy. However, I was forced to curb that enthusiasm because many of my colleagues live in the USA. Sending them parcels from Canada is costly.
Then, I remembered my pleasant summer reading experiences and decided that it was time to pay back, or pay it forward, as the colloquial sayings go.
This summer, I delivered over twenty garden books to the Schroon Lake Public Library. I plan to make this donation an annual activity. If only one person discovers my collection and is inspired to plant a perennial flowerbed, vegetable plot, or terraced container garden, then all the heavy lifting to remove the collection from my home, pack it into the car, and carry it up one flight of stairs to the librarian’s desk, will have been worth the effort. Gardening isn’t only about growing; it’s also about sharing.