August 14, 2013

Friends recall a petite Maine writer's big impact

Leslie Land, who died Saturday, earned respect for her food and garden knowledge.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

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Leslie Land

Family photo

Hayward first met Land in the late '70s or early '80s, when he had moved to South Paris from New York and was cooking at Maurice, a French restaurant. They met at a gathering and got into a conversation because Land had eaten at Maurice a few weeks earlier.

"We had a great conversation, but in sort of classic Leslie style, with that big smile on her face and that twinkle in her eye that was always there, she proceeded to tell me everything that I had done wrong, either on the menu or with the meal that she had ordered," Hayward recalled fondly.

Land's neighbors, Alan and Monika Magee, met her when they moved to Cushing in 1979 and developed a friendship that "really wound around food and gardening intimately."

Monika Magee said Land knew a lot about unusual plants and had a great sense of design that made her gardens "always exquisite." She said she especially loved Land's white garden. "With many white flowers," she said, "their perfume is more evident at night. It was always very special to walk in between Leslie's house and Lois' house in the evening. You'd have to go through the white garden, and their fragrance would just be intoxicating."

Alan Magee recalls Land as a woman of "great exuberance and intelligence."

"She could recognize nonsense when she heard it," he said. "But instead of just reprimanding or correcting, she would have something that would be worthy of Mark Twain to come back with -- a memorable, wonderfully funny kind of response."

The Magees often came home to find a message from Land on their answering machine, inviting them over for food because she was testing recipes.

"We're 66 years old," Alan Magee said. "We've lost friends and family, but Leslie is, in the best sense of the word, a formidable presence in our lives, and it's hard to imagine her not being here."


Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


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