Wednesday, April 15, 2020

An Island Garden (Celia Thaxter)

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"Ever since I could remember anything,
flowers have been like dear friends to me,
comforters, inspirers, powers to uplift and to cheer.
CELIA THAXTER


Individuals across social media are doing all sorts of neat things these days to help people cope during the pandemic: they read poetry and Shakespeare aloud, they sing and play music, they create amusing videos and post them. The 'pressing My Books Into Service' series is my small contribution in blog-land to help create community in isolation. Each week I'm taking books from my shelves and randomly selecting excerpts to share with you. If you are arriving in this series mid-stream, you will find earlier posts by clicking HERE or on the Tab above.
We are finally thawing out. Snow is melting and temperatures are, at last, breaking zero in the daytime. Perhaps that's the reason why I find myself gravitating towards those books on my shelf that speak of gardens and flowers and warm sunshine. I know many of you are experiencing spring in your corner of the world, and I want you to know that your posts and photos have been buoying my soul these past few weeks when it seemed that winter would never end here.

Today I'm so happy to share a book I first heard of when it was highlighted in a summer issue of Victoria magazine years ago. It's a delightful chronicle of a year in the life of Celia Thaxter and her garden on the island her father purchased in 1848 and renamed Appledore IslandOriginally published in 1894, An Island Garden was re-issued in 1988, nearly a century later. With its lovely gold stamped cover and wonderful watercolour paintings by American Impressionist artist Childe Hassam (1859 - 1935), it's a treasure in your hands. If you like flowers and gardens and reading about gardening in another era, you'll never regret searching out a copy for your own library. I am happy to tell you that this book is also available as a free digital book—you can find it HERE.


"Poppy Bank in the Early Morning"
CHILDE HASSAM


"A Shady Seat"
CHILDE HASSAM


"Hollyhocks in Late Summer"
CHILDE HASSAM


"The Bride"
CHILDE HASSAM


Although this is a wonderful book to read any time of year, I have found it especially delightful on an afternoon that finally starts to feel like spring here in northerly Alberta. 

April 15th
An Island Garden
by Celia Thaxter (1894)



Excerpt from opening pages . . .
". . .At the Isles of Shoals, among the ledges of the largest island, Appledore, lies the small garden which in the following pages I have endeavored to describe. Ever since I could remember anything, flowers have been like dear friends to me, comforters, inspirers, powers to uplift and to cheer. A lonely child, living on the lighthouse island ten miles away from the mainland, every blade of grass that sprang out of the ground, every humblest weed, was precious in my sight, and I began a little garden when not more than five years old.  . . . The first small bed at the lighthouse island contained only Marigolds, pot Marigolds, fire-colored blossoms which were the joy of my heart and the delight of my eyes.  . . . 
Year after year the island garden has grown in beauty and charm, so that in response to the many entreaties of strangers as well as friends who have said to me, summer after summer, 'Tell us how you do it! Write a book about it and tell us how it is done, that we may go also and do likewise,' I have written this book at last. Truly it contains the fruit of much sweet and bitter experience. Of what I speak I know, and of what I know I have freely given.  . . .
Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising than the planting of a seed in the blank earth and the result thereof. Take a Poppy seed, for instance: it lies in your palm, the merest atom of matter, hardly visible, a speck, a pin's point in bulk, but within it is imprisoned a spirit of beauty ineffable, which will break its bonds and emerge from the dark ground and blossom in a splendor so dazzling as to baffle all powers of description. "


" Last week, when I went early into my garden, a rose-breasted
grosbeak was sitting on the fence. Oh, he was beautiful as a flower.
I hardly dared to breathe, I did not stir, and we gazed at each other
fully five minutes before he concluded to move. "
CELIA THAXTER


* * *


Wishing you a beautiful day. See you Friday!

Heart Hugs,
Brenda
xox



9 comments:

  1. Sounds wonderful. Thanks for the recommendation.
    Amalia
    xo

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  2. What a beautiful book! I love books like this with pretty illustrations! Take care and stay safe!

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  3. That is where I read about Celia Thaxter, too! The artwork is so beautiful as are the words. Just the thing to get you ready for spring!

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  4. I love reading about gardens, flowers, herbs, and so forth. Yours looks like a great book, Brenda. Susan

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  5. What a magical looking book, such beautiful illustrations.

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  6. I remember the Victoria article about Celia Thaxter and her island garden. What a lovely excerpt. These are some wonderful books you have and thank you for sharing them with us.

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  7. Oh I just love this book! I gifted my mum with a copy that I picked up at library book sale a few years ago. I used to live on the coast of New Hampshire and could see the Isles of Shoals daily. I never got a chance to go out there but they did have boats you could take out in the summer time. Now you have me wanting to plan to go this year.

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  8. The book sounds beautiful! I love the illustrations and that quote: Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising than the planting of a seed in the blank earth and the result thereof. Take a Poppy seed, for instance: it lies in your palm, the merest atom of matter, hardly visible, a speck, a pin's point in bulk, but within it is imprisoned a spirit of beauty ineffable, which will break its bonds and emerge from the dark ground and blossom in a splendor so dazzling as to baffle all powers of description.
    OOOOOOH!!! This is what I feel!

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  9. Hi Brenda. You might enjoy these links to Childe Hassam's painting "Poppies, Isles of Shoals" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.103172.html?utm_source=National+Gallery+of+Art&utm_campaign=88b44915d1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_20_06_23_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2085ff9475-88b44915d1-343612727 and https://www.nga.gov/features/artful-moments-frontline-workers.html?utm_source=National+Gallery+of+Art&utm_campaign=88b44915d1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_20_06_23_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2085ff9475-88b44915d1-343612727

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To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xox

PS. I do not always comment here, but I do look forward to coming and visiting you....