Saturday, February 14, 2015

Feline Friend for Tasha

Napping in the weaving room

Perched on a soft coverlet

While most folks associate Welsh Pembroke Corgyn with Tasha, she also loved cats and they were attracted to her. Miaou, her one-eyed gray tabby often slept in large antique bowls, or snuggled on the bed in the winter kitchen. But of course, she was Tasha’s well-loved pet, but one day I saw a stray cat bond with Tasha.
Tasha and I were attending the Spencerian Saga, held each fall near Platt Rogers Spencer’s home in Ashtabula, Ohio. Along with the other students, we took a field trip to visit Spencer’s grave. A cloudless sky shimmered overhead and a few trees displayed their fall colors as Tasha and I strolled through the cemetery, looking at the flowers and sayings on the older tombstones. Because we were there to celebrate Spencer’s achievements and not to attend a funeral, the peace of the place settled over us.

Out of nowhere, a black cat with white markings sauntered up the brick path and paused by Tasha. He stared up at her with that certain look that asks for attention. She sat down on the grass, and cuddled him. Settling into her arms, he began to purr. When his desire for snuggles was satisfied, Tasha amused him with a blade of grass, wiggling it back and forth as the cat pounced on it. Finally, our band of students needed to leave, so Tasha gave kitty one last hug. He sat on the path, a quiet sentinel watching our car drive away.
Tasha and her new friend

Sewing by the hearth with a sleepy tabby

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Winter Gardening Pleasures

Tasha's front porch
Like most gardeners, late winter was the time when Tasha perused seed and nursery catalogs. And because I usually visited during February, our conversations rambled off to our favorite heirloom roses, the heady fragrance of scented geraniums and our favorite colors of hollyhocks. Tasha also confessed her habit of now and then, taking a cutting or a seed pod while strolling through a famous garden. If I remember correctly, her boxwood plants were cuttings from a plant at Mount Vernon. She nurtured the same habit in me by giving me poppy seed pods so that I could splash their seeds around my garden. Every year, their lavender or pink flowers shimmer between the dianthus and clumps of thyme.
When I voiced my frustration over primrose seeds from seed companies that failed to germinate, Tasha explained that the freshest seeds came from the American Primrose Society. She encouraged me to join the group, and described the proper steps for germinating primula. Later that spring, I opened a birthday package sent from Tasha and there glowed a silver-green primula with delicate yellow flowers that I had admired in her greenhouse. Whenever I spy primroses as a nursery, I think of the many different varieties that bloomed in her garden and the small pots decorating her kitchen windowsill.
For Tasha, gardening was another art form with a three dimensional pallet of textures, colors and scents. With her imagination and penchant for design, she shaped flowerbeds that linger in her illustrations and inspire gardeners around the world.
In her greenhouse, Tasha and Carol Lueck