“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
– Gary Snyder
Our garden was built by a generous donation from the family of Renee Winter Silvers. Renee was born in Paris, France, in 1925, and grew up about 40 miles away, in Bois-le-Roi. There were two aspects of this small town that loomed large for her: it was clustered on the Seine River, initiating a lifelong love of watery places, and it was surrounded by the huge Foret de Fontainebleau, formerly a king’s hunting preserve, but for her, an inexhaustible source of exploration and discovery.
Renee spent as much time as she could there, always with her beloved dogs, and always with an open mind. Throughout her later life, whether in Iowa, where she and her American husband, Cleece, lived much of their working and parenting lives, or in the Ozark Mountains of Fairfield Bay, Arkansas, where they moved upon “retirement,” or on the balcony of her apartment home in Philadelphia and, finally, the garden outside her window at Cathedral Village’s Bishop White Lodge, this deep love of nature fed her contemplative spirit. She was often heard to say, “I just happened to notice….” when in fact she was a deeply patient and transfixed observer, who would follow that familiar, humble preamble with a detailed description of a surprising aspect of a creature or plant that most people would not have noticed. Anyone in her presence would learn to attend more closely, more deeply.
We will carry on, inspired by Renee’s example. Come, sit, enjoy, just as Renee did for so many years!