Monday, April 13, 2020

From My Book Shelf, Foxgloves & Hedgehog Days

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"It's funny how, when things seem the darkest, moments
of beauty present themselves in the most unexpected places."

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. I might add my own comments, or just let the author do the talking. If you are arriving in this series mid-stream, you will find earlier posts by clicking HERE or on the Tab above.

Today I'm drawn to one lovely book I've had for years. I purchased Foxgloves & Hedgehog Days the year Rick and I went on our first date and were married three months later. I used to read aloud sometimes as my then housemate and I relaxed with friends around a dinner table. Rick, just a friend at large at the time, would often be part of the gatherings that early summer. So you might imagine then that the memories of those special months would forever be mingled within the pages of this volume of amusing essays.

Not having read the book in a long while, I find it just as lovely as ever I remember it. Any gardener or backyard naturalist will enjoy it, but as the cover says, it's really for anyone who has ever 'dreamed of giving up the rat race for the simple life'. The author Daniel Blajan, giving up his own rat race, moved from his urban condominium to a cottage in the countryside, and from that rural setting regales his readers with anecdotes of his new life as a new gardener.

So, dear friends, an excerpt to whet your appetite and maybe even make you go online to find a copy. It's perfect gentle reading for this time of year and, especially, for the season we all find ourselves in.     

April 13th
Foxgloves & Hedgehog Days (1997)
Secrets in a Country Garden

by Daniel Blajan

Excerpt from pages 13 and 14 of the chapter 'A Ballet in the Border'. . .
". . .Over and over again I have marveled at the ability of plants, flowers, and seeds to produce sounds and motions that, however subtle, are audible and visible, if only we open our ears and eyes to them. I know beyond any doubt that some flowers do whisper and dance, preferably when there is no wind at all. Let me reveal this little miracle, for it is worth sharing.
In my kindergarten years I used to spend the summer holidays with my grandmother, who at the time lived in a small village in the heart of the Dutch tulip fields. How well I remember those happy sun- and fun-filled days of frog catching, tree climbing, and cat chasing (though more often than not the enormous and vicious tomcat chased me). The days seemed endless, but bedtime never failed to sneak up on me, even though I did all within my power to delay it. When my bags of tricks to postpone the dreaded moment for even one more minute was finally empty, a bedtime story would somewhat soften my annoyance at having to abandon my favorite pursuits. My grandmother had a very vivid imagination, and her nightly stories were always brimming with miracles and magic. As soon as humans had retired, tables and teapots allegedly came to life, chairs chattered, and yes, flowers chanted and danced. Of course I believed every word of her tales, but however hard I tried, I never succeeded in fooling pottery and furniture into believing that I was asleep and that therefore they were free to move about as they pleased. One night, however, I magnificently succeeded in cheating the flowers.  . . .
I crept out of bed and sneaked unobserved through the back door into the garden. It was not yet dark, but the sun had already set and it was one of those rare, serene nights when you felt you could almost catch the light and hold it in your hand like a shimmering violet treasure. A perfect night for the flowers to dance. I looked around surreptitiously, but obviously all the flowers had already noticed my arrival, and they remained as stiff as pokers. I tiptoed to the shed and stealthily peeped around the wall. It was then that I beheld a great and breathtaking miracle: in the still of the night, the flowers of the evening primroses were coming to life. The pale yellow petals were unfolding one by one, flower after flower, like the wings of butterflies. They were unfolding at such speed that they caused the stems—yes, the whole plants—to tremble and quiver like a troupe of nervous ballerinas ready to jump on stage.  My keen ears picked up their voices too: a soft, mysterious sighing, like whispers from elfin lips. Soon the night moths joined the party and began to feast on the nectar. In great numbers they flitted from flower to flower, adding even more grace to this floral ballet. I didn't move a finger; I just stood there, mesmerized by this magical tableau vivant, hardly daring to breathe lest I should break the magic of this performance, in which the flowers were the chorus girls dancing to the faint rapid beat of trembling insects' wings.
I don't know how long I stood there, but I remember that all of a sudden the last glimmer of daylight faded away and it became too dark to see anything at all. In a state of utter bliss I slipped back into bed. That night, I knew, I had witnessed my very first miracle: the flowers had danced especially for me.  . . . "   

Isn't that sublime? The whole book is a gorgeous read.
Wishing you a beautiful day. See you on Wednesday.

Heart Hugs,


  1. It is such a delightful book, simple but very full of loveliness.

  2. Utterly enchanting! Makes me want to read of the book!

  3. Brenda I must get a copy of this sounds so the artwork on the cover too. Thanks for such a lovely post. Take care friend...hope your snow is melting and you are catching glimpses of spring. Hugs!

  4. thanks that was fun to discover as it's almost 2 am and sleep alludes!

  5. The cover of the book would have drawn me to it had I discovered it in a bookstore. Definitely one to add to my wish list.

  6. Sounds like just the kind of book I like. Amazon didn't have it but Alibris did and I ordered it. Thanks

  7. What a delightful description of the dance of the primroses joined by the moths! And the cover . . . perfectly delightful on its own!

  8. The reading sent shivers of delight down my spine. What a magical event, described so well. Thank you!

  9. Brenda, I must, must have this book. I will look for it today. Truly beautiful and makes my heart pound.
    I am enjoying your series so much. Hope this comment will go through.


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 xo