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Ruth Stout

  • ... I wanted no one lifting a finger in that garden unless he loved doing it. What if Fred had hired a man to dig those trenches and it had turned out that he didn't love to dig? Who could eat that kind of asparagus?

  • Working in the garden ... gives me a profound feeling of inner peace. Nothing here is in a hurry. There is no rush toward accomplishment, no blowing of trumpets. Here is the great mystery of life and growth. Everything is changing, growing, aiming at something, but silently, unboastfully, taking its time.

  • I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.

  • If 'heartache' sounds exaggerated then surely you have never gone to your garden one rare morning in June to find that the frost, without any perceptible motive, any hope of personal gain, has quietly killed your strawberry blossoms, tomatoes, lima and green beans, corn, squash, cucumbers. A brilliant sun is now smiling at this disaster with an insenstive cheerfulness as out of place as a funny story would be if someone you loved had just died.

  • A gardener has so many enemies, from a quiet little aphid to a big blustering hurricane, there is so much ignorance and misinformation to lead him astray, that it is comforting to have one thing he can count on. Any one seed may be too old to sprout or inferior in some way, but it will never try to be something it isn't fitted to be. A man may study to be a surgeon when he should have been a shoemaker, a talented painter may spend his life trying to convince himself and his fellows that he is a lawyer, but a turnip seed will never attempt to grow into an ear of corn. If you plant a good turnip seed properly a turnip is what you will get every single time.

  • You know how some people seem to think that their love for classical music makes them spiritual or at least something quite special? And others who think you are a monster if you don't 'love children,' however obnoxious the children may be? Well, I found out that many people who love flowers look down on those who don't.

  • Why do people who like to get up early look with disdain on those who like to lie in bed late? And why do people who like to work feel superior to those who prefer to dream?

  • Farmers are philosophical; they have learned that it is less wearing to shrug than to beat their breasts. But there is another angle to their attitude. Things happen rapidly in the country; something new always comes along to divert them and it isn't necessarily another calamity.

  • There is a privacy about it [winter] which no other season gives you. If you belong to yourself in the sense in which I think Montaigne meant it when he said the greatest thing in the world is to learn to belong to yourself, no one can take that gift away from you. And yet in spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.

  • ... the bliss that comes from ignorance should seldom be encouraged for it is likely to do one out of a more satisfying bliss.

  • The central paradox and challenge of marriage is that we have to make family out of someone we're not related to ...

  • To the Memory of those faithful brown slave-men of the plantations throughout the South, Daddy's contemporaries all, who during the war while their masters were away fighting in a cause opposed to their emancipation, brought their blankets and slept outside their mistresses' doors, thus keeping night-watch over otherwise unprotected women and children — a faithful guardianship of which the annals of those troublous times record no instance of betrayal.

    • Ruth Stout

Ruth Stout, U.S. writer, gardener

(1884 - 1980)