Monday, May 19, 2008

Born in the Wrong Century

Tasha Tudor surrounded by her flowers and dogs

It started with a simple conversation. "Are you doing anything fun this summer?" I asked my friend. She replied that in June she was going to Vermont to visit Tasha Tudor's Garden. I did not respond. My vacant look told her I had no idea what she was talking about.

Bewildered and dumbfounded at my stupidipty, she said, "I can't believe you haven't heard of Tasha Tudor!" I plead guilty as charged.

"Tasha Tudor is America's Beatrix Potter, except she's still living! She lives on a farm in Vermont where she milks her own cow, bakes her own bread, keeps a world famous garden and illustrates children's books!" she continued to enlighten me. "She only opens her garden to the public once a year, for a day or two. This year it's in June and I have tickets so I'm going," she concluded. Chastised and repentant, I promised I'd go home and do research to learn more.

Tasha is in her 92nd year and in excellent health. She continues to lead an independent and active life which encompasses artwork, gardening, greenhouse care, pets, family and friends.

Tasha is just the kind of person I'd love to know. At one point in my life, my ambition was to write and illustrate children's books. I'm envious that Tasha has lived her dreams.

Tasha on her 92nd Birthday 2007

In her mid-80’s, Tasha Tudor emerged as a lifestyle icon. She spent her life cultivating a world of her own making. Tudor’s illustrative style is self-taught and is a direct reflection of her own lifestyle and interest in the early 1800’s. She lives a simple lifestyle reminiscent of the 1830’s, spinning and weaving flax into cloth, sewing her own old-fashioned long dresses, cooking on a wood-burning stove, milking goats and hand-dipping candles to light her rooms. She spends hours working barefoot in both her vegetable and flower gardens and peacefully working on illustrations for current projects. She has the courage to create her own world and live out her dreams. Tasha seems to thrive on difficulty and hard work. Because of her love for this kind of labor, this country life suited her well.

Tasha especially loves illustrating fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and stories concerning holiday celebrations and farm life. Her style of illustration has frequently been characterized as Victorian and nineteenth century.

1830's Kitchen by Tasha Tudor

Once her family was grown, Tasha decided that her large farmhouse was too large and empty for her to live happily in. So in 1971, Tasha sold her house in New Hampshire, and decided to fulfill her dream of living in Vermont. Her son Seth had already moved to Vermont, and Tasha decided to try to find land near him. With her usual good fortune, the first day she went looking for land in Vermont, Tasha found a nice-sized piece of property for sale adjoining Seth’s property. It was just what she was looking for and Seth built the house and barns according to her plans. She went on to landscape the property just as she had envisioned as a child with gardens, orchards, and a lovely deep woods.

Early Bird by Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor and her family started a family artwork and craft business in 1999. In addition to the website they participated in a few select shows every year. Seth and Marjorie Tudor, Jennifer Tudor Wyman, and Winslow and Amy Tudor help run the family business in Marlboro, Vermont.

The Garden Tour waiting lists were so long, we relented and added a few additional tours. There are only a few extra tickets available for the new, June 21, 2008 tour.

I'm always happy to learn something new and I'm especially glad to learn about Tasha. She's become a hero to me. She likes gardens and dogs, writing and illustrating, and the Victorian Era. What's not to like about Tasha?

1 comment:

TravelinOma said...

One of my favorite ABC books is "A is for Annabelle." The pictures are so sweet. I've always loved her illustrations but I had no idea she was still alive. Thanks for the interesting info, too.