I love the artwork of Mary Engelbreit, and this is one of my favorites of her work. It’s perfect for today because I am giving myself a present this week and rereading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s a book I loved years ago when I first read it, and when I saw that the movie of it is available on Netflix, I decided it was time to reread it. I am loving it even more this time around!
I’m posting this detail from a painting by John William Waterhouse just because I found it so beautiful.
“For paradise in the world to come is uncertain, but there is indeed a heaven on earth, a heaven which we inhabit when we read a good book.”
~ Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop
Happy weekend reading, friends!
Good morning, friends! I am reading Celia Thaxter’s classic gardening book, An Island Garden, and am loving it, taking notes as I go because there’s so much to learn from her! She was a beautiful writer of both poetry and prose, and her other passion was gardening. I’ll be sharing more about her soon, but for this morning, here’s a passage that I particularly loved from this joyful book:
When in these fresh mornings I go into my garden before any one is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness. In this hour divinely fresh and still, the fair face of every flower salutes me with a silent joy that fills me with infinite content; each gives me its color, its grace, its perfume, and enriches me with the consummation of its beauty. All the cares, perplexities, and griefs of existence, all the burdens of life slip from my shoulders and leave me with the heart of a little child that asks nothing beyond its present moment of innocent bliss. These myriad beaming faces turned to mine seem to look at me with blessing eyes. I feel the personality of each flower, and I find myself greeting them as if they were human. “Good-morning, beloved friends! Are all things well with you? And are you tranquil and bright? And are you happy and beautiful?” They stand in their peace and purity and lift themselves to my adoring gaze as if they knew my worship–so calm, so sweet, so delicately radiant, I lose myself in the tranquillity of their happiness.
~ Celia Thaxter (1835–1894), from An Island Garden
Tasha Tudor is one of my favorite artists. She was the author and illustrator of many children’s books, including my favorite edition of The Secret Garden, and she is beloved worldwide. She was born 100 years ago today, and so to celebrate her centenary, I bought a copy of a lovely book about her: Tasha Tudor’s Garden, by Tovah Martin, with beautiful, beautiful photographs by Richard W. Brown.
There is so much beauty and inspiration in this book! I look forward to reading it and learning more about Tasha Tudor, about her elegantly “simple” lifestyle, and about her gorgeous gardens. I will read it slowly, absorbing as much as I can of the natural beauty she created and surrounded herself with during her long life.
Happy birthday to one of my favorite artists! Marc Chagall would be 128 years old today. I dearly love the colors in his ethereal paintings and stained glass, especially the blue. His dreamlike paintings are colorful, happy, and full of love. Chagall was a man of deep passion for life and for art. He was a happy man, if you can judge by the many photos of him with family and at work.
A few years ago, I read a wonderful biography of him, Marc Chagall: Painter of Dreams, by one of my favorite authors, Natalie Bober. If you love art, or are just interested in the life of a gifted artist, I highly recommend this little book. You can read my post about it here.
Alan Cumming’s memoir, Not My Father’s Son, is an important book. Mr. Cumming grew up with a cruel and abusive father, certainly a difficult subject to write about, and one that is often difficult to read. But he wrote it with honesty, courage, compassion, and fairness. And as I listened to the audiobook, which he narrated himself, I found myself admiring Alan Cumming more and more for the way he has dealt with such a dark childhood. He is a good, caring, and sensitive human being, (as well as a gifted actor!) and I appreciate him for sharing his difficult story with the world.
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.”
Vincent’s Gardens, by Ralph Skea, is a lovely little book that I read over this very dark and rainy January weekend. I love the art of Vincent Van Gogh! I’m also reading as much as I can about gardens and gardening since we moved into our new home in the Grove. So the combination was perfect, and looking at his beautiful paintings of gardens was simply a delightful way to spend the weekend!