For some reason, summer makes me think of Edith Wharton. Not sure why, given all those frozen pages of Ethan Frome, but it does. Maybe it's those voluminous pale dresses in which she always seems to be pictured (Edith, Emily, Louisa May...ya think if I traded in my jeans for long white dresses I could have better luck selling my novel?). Whatever, when I think of summer, I always think of Edith, and now you need to think about her, too. It seems the home of this wonderful writer, delared a National Historic Landmark years ago, is about to be foreclosed upon. I can only imagine how much it costs to maintain "The Mount," as Edith's mansion is called, but it does seem horrid to let America's only monument to Ms. Wharton--and one of the few protected landmarks honoring a woman--fall into the hands of heaven-knows-whom. Given that many of Edith's books were nonfiction works about architecture and gardening, this estate offers definitive examples of what she wrote about. And it's impossible to put a price on the effect walking in the haunts of a beloved writer can have on an aspiring one. Having wept from pure bliss when I visited the homes of Helen Keller, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Carl Sandburg, and Louisa May Alcott, I know that impact first hand.
So if you haven't yet spent all your tax refund and are feeling just the teeniest bit philanthropic, visit http://www.edithwharton.org/ and consider making a donation to Save The Mount. They've been given till Halloween to raise a couple of million dollars; a couple of yours will help. Go read one of Edith's books to put you in the mood or, better yet, make a pilgrimage to Lenox, Massachusetts, this summer and visit the estate for yourself.
If you've watched TV recently, you know it's more critical than ever to preserve whatever shreds of intelligence, creativity, and dignity that are left on this planet. Here's your chance!