by Chrysa Smith
Everyone knows someone from Brooklyn. No matter where you go, you’re never many steps removed.There’s just something about the interactive, walkable, ethnic segments that are endearing. I should know. I was born there.
So it’s not a surprise that I would eventually set a book there. The Upside-Down Gardener follows a young city girl named Dory. A baseball-playing non-frilly gal, Dory wants nothing more than to get on that field and see people smile and see bright colors all around. So when her mom suggested she start a garden before baseball season sets in, she’s non too thrilled. But gives it a try, and a try and a try. After an alarm clock, a whistle and a pot of coffee fail to ‘wake up’ her garden, she has had about enough of the patience required of a gardener. And that’s when the magic begins.
Flowers growing upside-down, in the subway? Unheard of! But Dory’s magic brings it to life—or does it?
One mom thought the story took place in Park Slope. Maybe it’s Brooklyn Heights. Or perhaps Williamsburg or Greenpoint. I’ll never tell. But I will say that the book is dedicated to my mom Dorothy, who never got to read it. A close relationship, there’s a lot of us mingled together in this story. Dory takes her name from my mom. My mom grew up in Brooklyn. I was born and spent many hours in Brooklyn visiting family. I was what people used to call a ‘tomboy.’ I played all sorts of ball, so Dory gets that from me. Gardening? That was my mom, but the upside-down part came from one of my gardening experiments gone awry. The subway? We both travelled that way as most city girls do. And oh, the little poodle in the story? He comes from one of my other books and a past canine companion.
The story is really a very inter-connected web of my life. Funny, I used to sit near my grandmother’s large window overlooking the small patch of backyard. Every so often you’d catch a flower or weed blooming within the cracks of concrete slabs. That would always grab my attention. And so now, a garden grows in Brooklyn in my story, and also within my heart.
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