Why one writes, as one does, about whimsical things that may never have any real significance in humanities and sciences is perhaps something worth pondering as an exercise. Most anything that comes to mind, of late, may be a glad departure from current events, and that’s just fine by me. Allowing the mind to wander and imagine, to percolate and relax, and to reflect and muse has been a gift in 2020. And so now, dear reader, these images and ideas which I share are for the sake of the preservation of the soul.
Just now, the opportunity to move into a Tasha Tudor style cottage in rural Vermont, where one might lose oneself in the woods, the streams, and the mountains of a bygone era, might be especially welcome to me. She was a woman before her time, Tasha Tudor, in so very many ways, and yet a woman invested in her arts and crafts for the preservation of that same time, gone by. I’m grateful for her artistic work that allows for meandering through a loveliness that seems just out of reach, save for the opportunity to turn to the very next page.
Tasha Tudor, with her corgis, ducks, cats, hens, and goats once lived together on her tidy acres of gardens and groves in a lifestyle that spoke to the deep breath drawn and the slow exhale release, of serenity. I recall these images of Tasha Tudor and her home in the Victoria Magazine, September, 1992 edition, as well as, the beauty of Tasha’s art — not only through her familiar children’s books, with which I was well acquainted — but through her private world.
A New England regional native for all her life, Tasha Tudor, was born to William Starling and Rosamond Tudor in 1915. Her extended matrilineal forebears once lived on the charming Beacon Hill literary district in Boston, some of whom were acquainted with the #148 Charles Street salon which James and Annie Fields hosted in the nineteenth century, while still others of them belonged to the legendary Concord group that included Little Women author, Louisa May Alcott.
It isn’t any wonder, then, that Tasha Tudor thrived in the adult years of her life as an accomplished woman in numerous arts made at her homestead, until her death in 2008, at over 90 years of age. There, her sensibilities were forged by an affinity for the natural wonder all around her, which especially welcomed the fundamentals of home and community that were so comforting to adults and children alike, and found in the pages of her imagination that were published in two or three volumes each year.
Tasha Tudor writings and illustrations for children and young adults literature shared her vision for folksy themes which have endured across the decades. Unaffected work, common pleasure, and simple celebration in an apparently natural and untouched panorama, so common to rural living and yet so far away from city life, are foundational to all of her many images that spill from her books over to prints and greeting cards, still published and distributed all around the world.
Tasha Tudor’s stylized illustrations were inspired from a miniature version of all she surveyed, then brought to life for the amusement and pleasure of others. Revisiting them, as I have done recently from my home library, they are a comforting view from her own perspective of space and time gathered together in peace and harmony with itself. Felicitous stuff, that, and something everyone may need for the winter months, such as those in which we might soon find ourselves.
Looking back through images from numerous publications about her life, and visiting the Tasha Tudor & Family website at www.tashatudorandfamily.com, I realize how much work was spent to create the cottage and garden landscape that was a Tasha Tudor ideal. Her home at the edge of a faerie story required invested means, tremendous opportunity, and proverbial sacrifice. It also required help from family and friends, as well as, many delightful years of creating more with each changing season.
I’m not certain I’m quite up to venturing from my little back porch herb garden, but at times I wish that I might live the next and last years of my life, as Tasha Tudor once did. In attempting to begin to do so, throughout the long months ahead during this ongoing season of pandemic, I ask myself — which arts might I attempt now, to bring something of Tasha Tudor’s ideal to my own surroundings, whether in city or country? I ask myself this question, and I wait patiently, for the inspiration of her magic to take hold.
At the Edge of a Faerie Story: About Tasha Tudor’s Home, by Robin Whitham McCrady, Copyright, 2020. All references, citations, sources, and bibliographies are available upon request.
“Wise Women, such as Midwives, Astronomers, Mathematicians, Healers, Philosophers, Herbalists, and Storytellers were once persecuted, as Witches,” from Wise Welsh Witch.