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Hello Spring!

It’s the first day of spring and I was hoping to celebrate with blue skies and plenty of sunshine!  But we had to settle for gray and stormy here… at least the birds seem happy.  But luckily I have a few books on hand that will help me feel like spring has sprung:

Betty Crocker’s Kitchen Gardens
“You could have a bench in a quiet corner and perhaps a sundial to count the sunny, happy hours or a birdbath to invite its useful visitors.” (page 12)
My efforts in the garden are usually limited to a few flowers, but last year I planted some vegetables… with mixed results.  I’m still debating if I’ll give it another shot this year, but in the meantime I do enjoy looking through books like this one.  The introduction says that “It is a book for the beginner who has never turned a spade or watched a seedling sprout.  It is a book for the experienced gardener whose ‘green thumb’ is itching to try an exciting new project.  It is for the lover of herbs who has no more space than a sunny windowsill… or a salad lover with only a small patch of ground beside the kitchen door.  It is for everyone, caught up in this fast-paced world, who will take pleasure in growing something fresh and fragrant and flavorful to enjoy, just moments from picking, at the family table.  Or, by preserving, to stretch out the golden summer throughout the year.”
There is an extra-special touch to this book as well… some beautiful illustrations by Tasha Tudor!

Betty Crocker’s Kitchen Gardens
Published by Universal Publishing and Distributing (1971)

Village Diary by Miss Read
“The return of the flowers and young greenery is a perennial miracle and wonder.  The children have brought treasures from hedge, garden and spinney; and coltsfoot and crocus, violet and viburnum, primrose and pansy deck our classroom, all breathing out a faint but heady perfume of spring-time.” (page 76)
Really any book by Miss Read would have been good for this list, but Village Diary is my favorite so far.  She brings out the joy and beauty of nature in her writing in a way that makes me want to learn more about the flowers and plants in my own surroundings.
“The enchanting follow-up to Village School, Miss Read’s beloved first novel, Village Diary once again transports us to the picturesque English village of Fairacre. Each chapter describes a month in the life of the village school’s headmistress, Miss Read. As the villagers prepare for their country pageant, Fairacre welcomes many newcomers, such as the headstrong Amy, Mr. Mawne (whom the villagers would like to see the reluctant Miss Read marry), and the earnest new infants’ teacher, Miss Jackson.”

Village Diary by Miss Read
Published by Houghton Mifflin (2007)

Old Herbaceous by Reginald Arkell
“It was their color that bowled him over.  There never was such a blue and there never would be.” (page 16)
I seem to be gravitating more to slow, gentle reads lately and this is certainly one of them.  There are quite a few wonderful moments (the part about the wild strawberries is one of my favorites) but I found it a bit sad in parts too.  Time marches steadily through this book and the changes left in its wake are a little hard for Bert  Pinnegar to adjust to.
“Old Herbaceous is a classic British novel of the garden, with a title character as outsized and unforgettable as P. G. Wodehouse’s immortal butler, Jeeves. Born at the dusk of the Victorian era, Bert Pinnegar, an awkward orphan child with one leg a tad longer than the other, rises from inauspicious schoolboy days spent picking wildflowers and dodging angry farmers to become the legendary head gardener “Old Herbaceous,” the most esteemed flower-show judge in the county and a famed horticultural wizard capable of producing dazzling April strawberries from the greenhouse and the exact morning glories his Lady spies on the French Riviera, “so blue, so blue it positively hurts.” Sprinkled with nuggets of gardening wisdom, Old Herbaceous is a witty comic portrait of the most archetypal—and crotchety—head gardener ever to plant a row of bulbs at a British country house.”

Old Herbaceous by Reginald Arkell
Published by Modern Library (2003)

Between The Woods And The Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor
“Spring had begun as at a starter’s pistol.  Bird song had broken out in a frenzy, a fever of building had set in, and, overnight, swallows and swifts were skimming everywhere.” (page 20)
This second book in his trilogy opens in Hungary at the beginning of spring.  He can get a bit descriptive at times, going on for a few pages about whatever subject has captured his attention, but it’s one of things I love about his writing.  And like Miss Read, he has a unique way about describing nature.
“When readers begin Patrick Leigh Fermor’s enthralling account of what has been called ‘the longest gap year in history’, they have little idea that even a third of his odyssey will prove so satisfying a read.  But the delights of Between the Woods and the Water, the next third – picking up from the very spot on a bridge crossing the Danube between Slovakia and Hungary where the reader left him – prove more glorious still.  It is a literary masterpiece and satisfying journey in its own right.”

Between The Woods And The Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Published by John Murray (2004)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
“Oh! the things which happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there.” (pages 234-235)
Of course, The Secret Garden had to have a place in this list.  My copy, falling apart from years of use, features some more of Tasha Tudor’s illustrations.
“There are few books that have touched so deeply the generations of readers as has Frances Hodgson Burnett’s immortal classic.  Its special magic is best explained by the book itself: ‘It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place anyone could imagine.  The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick that they matted together… No wonder it’s still, Mary whispered, I am the first person who has spoken in here for ten years.”

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published by Yearling 

Summer Wine Sunday

“Some of us look at a view like this and all we can see is how bonny it is.  But if you concentrate and listen, then soon, faintly on the breeze you begin to sense the million munching teeth of tiny things scoffing even tinier things.  Depression could be a sort of major art form.  There’s so much raw material for it.”

-Clegg
Last Of The Summer Wine
S2E3: The Changing Face of Rural Blamire

A Quick Hello

hummingbird

There is a little pot of flowers that sits on the porch outside my window at work.  The bright oranges, yellows and whites bring a little encouragement to the day (especially when it feels like it should be 5:00 but it’s really only 2:00).  And every once in awhile, if I’m looking out the window at the right moment, I catch sight of a little visitor that comes to see the flowers and to say a quick hello.  The Little Green Hummingbird only stays for a few seconds but it’s enough to make the day a little more cheerful!