Gladys Taber

March 29th, 2009

Some Gladys Taber quotes…

For the wise…The real evidence of growing old, is that things level off in importance.

For the gardeners…

A garden is evidence of faith. It links us with all the misty figures of the past who also planted and were nourished by the fruits of their planting.

For the homebodies…

Traveling is all very well if you can get home at night. I would be willing to go around the world if I came back in time to light the candles and set the table for supper.”

And for me (and the crazy people like me)…

Perhaps, after all, our best thoughts come when we are alone. It is good to listen, not to voices but to the wind blowing, to the brook running cool over polished stones, to bees drowsy with the weight of pollen. If we attend to the music of the earth, we reach serenity. And then, in some unexplained way, we share it with others.

I discovered the books of Gladys Taber when the Country Doctor was in residency. Back then, I had three small boys tumbling over each other in ever changing degrees of stickiness and sweetness. My only excursions, other than grocery shopping, and trips to the park, were to bundle them all up and head to the library for a brief interval of fast paced book gathering.

After the boys stocked up on their own selections of books and movies, it was mommy’s turn. In those days there was really only one section of the library I was interested in and it was not the steamy romances, the best sellers, nor the parenting manuals (though I could have benefited from them). My special section was the six hundreds. More specifically, the six hundred to the six hundred fortys. This is the section of the library where I happily discovered all the ‘country life’ authors that subsequently filled my diaper changing days with dreams of hay meadows, goat herding, beekeeping, and the hope of someday owning my own little white clapboard house in the country… with a glorious garden out back, a tumbling orchard full of rosy fruit, a small lake upon which my yacht was moored…. that takes me to the four corners of the earth… from which I bring back gilded treasure and magic lamps and jewel encrusted arborvitae and… what? Oh! Sorry! My dreams got a little mixed up there. Back to Gladys and her simple country home…

Gladys Taber wrote over forty books from the little desk beside her bedroom window in her own white clapboard house in the country. I have a few to give away today. But first please… if I may… let me tell you a little about Mrs. Taber.

The first thing you should know about Gladys is that she was completely and totally unafraid to be sentimental. She could be extremely sentimental. She named her Abyssinian kitten ‘Especially Me’ for crying out loud! She was sentimental about everything from her milk glass collection to the neighbor boy who mowed her grass. I always wondered from where all her sentimentality (which tends to dance on the edge of melancholy) came. In my mind, I imagined that Gladys never really recovered from the death of her husband. But just today I discovered that Gladys was not a widow… she was a divorcee’! Gladys did not write much if at all about her marriage. In the majority of her books, she lives with a dear friend who is a widow, and from this I always assumed that Gladys herself, was also a widow.

There are many theories as to why Gladys got divorced. I am not sure which to believe and since Gladys never explained it, I guess I will never know. If you are an established Gladys fan, you can visit this site to read some of the theories as well as a good post on her work… you will want to read the comments as well.

By the time Gladys moved in 1943 to the Connecticut farmstead she would eventually name Stillmeadow, she was already a published author and a magazine columnist for both Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle. Stillmeadow and eventually, a second house called Still Cove would serve as the primary inspiration and the backdrop for almost all of her writing for the rest of her life. At Stillmeadow, she raised her daughter, bred cockerspaniels, collected antiques, explored the nearby countryside, grew a garden, learned how to decorate, tossed her Abyssinian kitten off the typewriter time and time again and wrote and wrote and wrote.

Gladys wrote cookbooks, interior decorating books, books of letters, and children’s books, but mostly she wrote of her love for her home, her friends, her family and her little farm. A Stillmeadow book leaves the reader warmed through and through as if you were sitting by the applewood fire’ beside her, stirring the ashes, reaching back into your own memories, making stories out of family dinners, the neighbors cattle, the way the maple leaves dance down the road… it is sentimental, yet moving, comforting, yet funny, touching yet poignant and very, very wise. Gladys saw the beauty in the ordinary and brought it’s abundance to everyone’s kitchen, it’s fragrance to everyone’s nose.

A stern warning to the uninitiated Taber reader. Once you walk through her front door, you may find it very difficult to leave.

Comments

  • SD:

    Thank you for sweet memories of Gladys. . .discovered first in old magazines and then her books. . .gave me the love of cockers and setters which became my first dogs. . .and the simple living of country life. . .

  • rose:

    I love to read…my first memories of my mom involve going to the library to check out books. She had 6 children: 5 boys and me, the only girl. It was fun to see a side of my mother outside of the house. I will put these books on my list!