Cooks’ Garden in Historic Deerfield a remembrance of  9/11 victim

  • A memorial bird bath inside The Cooks’ Garden honoring Margaret Quinn Orloske, a victim of the twin towers attack. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo


  • A memorial bird bath inside The Cooks’ Garden honoring Margaret Quinn Orloske, a victim of the twin towers attack. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • A memorial bird bath inside The Cooks’ Garden honoring Margaret Quinn Orloske, a victim of the twin towers attack. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

For the Gazette
Published: 9/10/2016 3:52:55 AM
Modified: 9/10/2016 3:52:41 AM

OLD DEERFIELD — Fifteen years after terrorists piloted two planes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City, killing more than 2,700 people, a deep feeling of loss is still tangible inside the locust fence confines of The Cooks’ Garden at Historic Deerfield.

A soft breeze rustled through sage leaves and over stone paths on a recent day, gently pulling ripples across the water of a stone birdbath that sat quietly as the garden’s centerpiece, bringing with it a strong scent of lavender.

The herb garden, which is behind the visitors center in Historic Deerfield, was built through donations and dedicated in 2006 in remembrance of Margaret Quinn Orloske, who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She left behind a husband of 26 years, Duane Orloske, and son, Stephen Orloske.

A few years after the garden was dedicated, Rhode Island stone artist Karin Sprague carved a centerpiece in 2009. At a memorial soon after, the birdbath was filled with water taken from the Hudson River and Orloske’s own garden where she lived in Windsor, Conn.

Garlic chives, which bloom in September, surround the bath. Around the bath’s mouth 11 herbs are carved into slate — below a quote from English poet Alfred Austin.

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature,” is inscribed above the herbs — a tribute to Margaret Orloske’s love of gardening and in honor of the time she spent at Historic Deerfield’s Open Hearth Cooking Class.

Duane Orloske, retired associate dean of student affairs at Central Connecticut State University, said his wife commuted 2 1/2 hours to work in New York at Marsh and McClennan, a professional services firm. In 2001, the firm held eight corporate offices in the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Margaret Orloske worked on the 96th floor of One World Trade Center as vice president of knowledge management.

“She was very energetic,” Duane Orloske recounted. “She loved traveling, she loved to organize things. She was the ultimate organizer. If there was a party, she would organize it.”

The Cooks’ Garden

Pervading calm reigns over the garden, in stark contrast to the images of billowing black smoke, white ash, shocked and scared victims and orange explosions that flickered into living rooms and splashed across news headlines throughout the nation after the attacks.

“She came here and took our hearth-cooking classes with her husband. He told me this was one of the highlights in her week,” Historic Deerfield’s education program coordinator Clarie Carlson said about Orloske’s frequent visits to Historic Deerfield.

At the entrance to the garden, a sign designates the site as a 9/11 memorial. While Carlson said there was a garden near the hearth kitchen before the memorial was built, it was significantly smaller and was not open to the public.

“It’s a wonderful way to keep her memory alive,” said Anne Digan Lanning, vice president for museum affairs at Historic Deerfield, “and to share her love for cooking, gardening and history with the public.”

The garden is kept running through a memorial fund donated by friends and family.

“I feel lucky that there’s someplace that was dedicated to my wife, because most of the victims never even made it back to be buried,” Duane Orloske said. “Having that place in Deerfield has been a real blessing.”

Carlson said the garden, which is free and open to the public, is an extension of the Open Hearth Cooking Classes, and is a historic reconstruction of an early American garden.

Throughout the garden, tarragon, oregano, rosemary and sage have been planted in raised beds, and are watered by a drip irrigation system.

As the nation remembers the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks — amidst social unrest and civil uncertainty — Orloske, who has since remarried, said he’d like to see the nation unify in the same way it came together in the wake of tragedy.

“The things that separate us — politics, ethnicities — seemed to fall away after 9/11,” he said about the aftermath of the attacks. “I couldn’t tell you how many acts of kindness I experienced.”

He paused before adding, “From total strangers.”

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