Monday, May 4
Sunday, April 19
The great salmon speaks: The secret is that nothing knows, the secret is that all life flows, the secret is that thoughts and heart are different beings, split apart, and though we change in skin and bone each being has its truth alone, while dreams and wandering take you far, accept yourself for what you are, there comes the time when close to home, your self must please itself alone, then sing beneath the lovely sky, the earth asks simply that you try
Can't get it spaced correctly, like a poem, because I don't want to learn to fiddle with the html, but if you read it aloud, you'll naturally hear the separate lines.
The poem is spoken by the salmon who is trying to leap up the water to his home in David Clement-Davies' brilliant novel Fell, the sequel to The Sight, which I haven't read. I won't spoil the plot, but if you love believable fantasy novels in which human - wild animal communication happens, you should try this gem. If you love wolves and their domesticated cousins, the German Shepherds, and know how the dog lies down with its nose on its paws in a posture of resigned patience underlaid with suppressed impatience, then try it. Girl heroine, destined for greatness, finds boy counterpart; much danger and death, many surprises, lots of wolves, and a cold Romanian landscape. Lovely writing. Clement-Davies has a nice website too, where you can see this and his other novels.
Thursday, April 16
I think I posted a bit of this some time back, but good things, the REALLY good things, need to be brought out into the light every now and then. Much as I love the finest of the early Little Golden Books' illustrators, there were a few that were not so admirable. If you don't know about My Little Golden Book about Zogg, inspired by Jane Werner Watson and Eloise Wilkin, then don't wait -- take a look here, now. Here's a sample.
Wednesday, March 25
When you're not digging in the garden, it's a joy to read writings by other gardeners. here are a couple of excerpts from books I've been enjoying on rainy days and dark evenings.
"How agitated I am when I am in the garden, and how happy I am to be so agitated. How vexed I often am when I am in the garden, and how happy I am to be so vexed. What to do? Nothing works just the way I thought it would, nothing looks just the way I had imagined it, and when sometimes it does look like what I had imagined (and this, thank God, is rare) I am startled that my imagination is so ordinary. Why are those wonderful weeping wisterias (or so they looked in a catalog: wonderful, inviting, even perfect) not fitting in the way I had imagined them, on opposite sides of a stone terrace made up of a patchwork of native Vermont stone? I had not yet understood and also had not yet been able to afford incorporating the element of water in my garden. I could not afford a pond. I could not understand exactly where a pond ought to go in the general arrangement of things. I do not even like a pond, really. When I was a child and living in another part of the world, the opposite of the part of the world in which I now live (and have made a garden), I knew ponds, small, really small bodies of water that had formed naturally (I knew of no human hand that had forced them to be that way), and they were not benign in their beauty: they held flowers, pond lilies, and the pond lilies bore a fruit that when roasted was very sweet, and to harvest the fruit of the lilies in the first place was very dangerous, for almost nobody who loved the taste of them (children) could swim, and so attempts to collect the fruit of pond lilies were dangerous; I believe I can remember people who died (children) trying to reach these pond lilies, but perhaps no such thing happened, perhaps I was only afraid that such a thing would happen, perhaps I only thought if I tried to reap the fruit of pond lilies I would die. I have eaten the fruit of pond lilies, they were delicious, but I can't remember what they tasted like, only that they were delicious and that they were delicious, and that no matter that I couldn't remember exactly what they tasted like, they were delicious again.
In my garden there ought to be a pond. All gardens, all gardens with serious intentions (but what could that mean) ought to have water as a feature. My garden has no serious intention, my garden has only series of doubts upon series of doubts."
Jamaica Kincaid, My Garden (Book):
"How much I long sometimes for a courtyard flagged with huge grey paving stones. I dream of it at night, and I think of it in the daytime, and I make pictures in my mind, and I know with the reasonable part of myself that never in this life shall I achieve such a thing, but I still continue to envy the fortunate people who live in a stone country, such as the Cotswolds, or in the northern counties of Yorkshire, Westmorland, and Cumberland....
"Amongst these essential and fundamental coverings I should plant small treasures. shall we say as an axiom that a very small garden should have very small things in it? The picture should fit the frame. I should have lots of little bulbs, all the spring-flowering bulbs; then for the later months I should let the pale-blue Camassias grow up, and some linarias, both pink and purple, such easy things, sowing themselves in every crevice. Every garden maker should be an artist along his own lines. That is the only possible way to create a garden, irrespective of size or wealth. The tiniest garden is often the loveliest. Look at our cottage gardens, if you need to be convinced."
Vita Sackville-West's Garden Book (edited by Phillipa Nicholson)
Sunday, March 15
At night, the sound of the ocean is lonely. The sound of it, heard from the campsite, makes me think of vastness and infinite spaces and loneliness. At sunrise, the human scale returns. I shared the beach with this strange creature, which the ranger told me was a tunicate and is actually a whole colony of small creatures living together. It's called sea pork. When the waves roll over it, it shrink to the size and shape of a small avocado. Such a sight!
Sunday, February 22
If you don't know it, there's a color-changing yarn around that has lots of people under its spell. A clever fellow in Brooklyn designed a 1X1 ribbed striped scarf that is so addictive that people all over the country are making them. I even know a woman who is working on TWO. You can find hundred of pictures of these on Flickr. Here's my first one in progress, made with Noro Silk Garden, a blend of silk, wool, and mohair. It's going to Caleb, who will be instructed to keep it on the outside of his coat, not next to his skin -- or he can hang it in his bedroom as a banner. The colors are really richer than shown here. The wonderful thing about working with this yarn, is that you never know which colors are going to turn up and what the juxtapositions will look like. I started with two colors, one quite bright and one quite dark, but in places they become almost the same. Time to buy some more. (Warning: it's not cheap. But it's worth it.)
I finally raked up all the oak leaves in the yard, because the warm spell made us all think it was nearly spring, and the daffodil shoots were getting blanched. Spring bulbs are hardy, so I thought exposure would be good for everyone. here are some treasures discovered lately. The one at the top is the beginning of the lovely pale yellow grape hyacinth that sursprised my last spring.
Posted by JLH at 2/22/2009
Wednesday, January 28
Sunday, January 25
I was a reading child. I got books from our village library, our town library, and the city library. Books from Providence would come home with my father, who would go there and get three at a time for me, recommended by the children's librarian. (No -- I never visited a school library, though I'm now a school librarian.) I lived in these books. Besides playing outdoors, in the small woods and on the shore, and riding my bike all over the neighborhood, reading is where I lived. When my father would come home with three new books, I'd wait till after supper or bedtime, get into my pajamas, then get into bed and examine each one in the stack -- smell it, look at it, savor its promise, then decide which one to read first. One day when I was about nine, he brought home what would become one of my favorite, most magical books. It was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Once I went into that wardrobe, my life changed forever. My bedroom had a large closet under the eaves, and I'd lie in bed at night, KNOWING that if I just believed hard enough I could go into my closet and reach back and enter Narnia. I never got out of bed and actually tried -- so maybe some part of me also knew that it wouldn't happen. Such is the duality of childhood thinking and desire. You KNOW that it's true, that the only thing lacking is your lack of faith. And you're not willing to risk being wrong. So you go on thinking about your closet and what might happen if you really try. (Just as, a few years later in junior high school, when I went on a science fiction reading jag, thanks to the tastes of a boy I had a crush on, I KNEW that if I believed and tried hard enough, then ESP would work, and I could silently transmit my thoughts to David Sanderson across the room.)
Saturday, January 24
So, if you're an adult, and you appreciate fine picture book illustration, find a copy of this gem. But you probably shouldn't share it with your youngest friends.
Coming soon: the Babar Question