I’m not feeling very well this week… so what do you read when you are under-the-weather? My quiet reading/recovery time is spent with a little book that I downloaded onto my Kindle, but I’m going to order a hardback copy because it’s a little treasure with illustrations by a favorite artist: Childe Hassam. The book is An Island Garden, by Celia Thaxter, who wrote it in 1894 at the urging of friends who loved her flower garden. She was a wonderful gardener, so I am loving reading about it and learning from her. But she was also a poet and writer of stories. I’d never heard of her before, so she’s a wonderful find for me. And this is a very nice book for someone “under the weather” in the middle of January…someone who is dreaming and planning her own garden, and longing for Spring to come!
Often I hear people say, “How do you make your plants flourish like this?” as they admire the little flower patch I cultivate in summer, or the window gardens that bloom for me in the winter; “I can never make my plants blossom like this! What is your secret?” And I answer with one word, “Love.” For that includes all,–the patience that endures continual trial, the constancy that makes perseverance possible, the power of foregoing ease of mind and body to minister to the necessities of the thing beloved, and the subtle bond of sympathy which is as important, if not more so, than all the rest.
Oh…I and DO wish I could somehow work it out to go to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, before March 8th to see an exhibit called “Flowers in Winter: Celia Thaxter’s Island Garden.”
My first read of 2014 was Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman. It was a quick read, a short novel told from the viewpoint of 13 different residents of an inner city Cleveland, Ohio, neighborhood. The vacant lot had been a nuisance for years, a place for garbage to be thrown out of windows, for drug deals and rats. It is a thoroughly awful place. But one day in very early spring, a young Vietnamese girl, in memory of her father, plants six bean seeds in the lot, next to the abandoned refrigerator, out of sight. Neighbors notice her activity and wonder. And from that curiosity emerges a glimmer of hope, and a community garden is born.
A lovely novella, this story has sparked the creation of many community gardens and much discussion about diversity and community-building. It was a lovely way to start the new year! A story full of hope and caring, this little book takes a positive look at what IS possible.
Our local Community Garden…
I love the feeling of accomplishment when a project is completed. This morning I finished reading The Morville Year, by Dr. Katharine Swift. It was a lovely read and a real education for me as I look forward to my return to gardening at our new home in Oregon before too long.
The project? As I read the book, I kept track of all the flowers, books, places, and people she talked about in this story of a year in her wonderful garden at Dower House, Morville Hall, Shropshire. And then I created a Pinterest board where I collected photographs of each thing on my list. The result is a visual book review, which I really enjoyed creating! If you are already a member of Pinterest, please visit my board and enjoy the photographs that I chose to honor this book. [Please forgive any mistakes I made in my photo selecting.] I don’t know if you can visit the board without being a member, but here is the link, just in case. It was a labor of love for me … homage paid to a lovely book.
Currently reading and enjoying: The Morville Year, by Katharine Swift. A lovely book to read in January, dreaming of the gardening ahead of me this spring and summer… Thanks for the recommendation, Cath!