Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Jane's garden

This summer we spent some time in England and Wales. This garden belongs to the house in Chawton where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life. The house is now a museum, and tells the story of her life. It is mostly well preserved, and only minor structural changes have been made.

Three years ago hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf coast. Now Gustav is on the way. Even though we are not living on the coast, this makes me nervous since we felt the aftermath even here, much further inland, with fallen branches and trees all over town. Houses and cars were smashed, and we we experienced only the outer remnants of the then storm. Fay brought much needed rain, and it felt like in country over there when it can rain for weeks at a time. Let's hope Gustav will not bring so much devastation as did Katrina.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


If trees could speak, what story would they tell? All those scars that show in the face form an intricate lace of memories so deeply ingrained and here to stay. Leaning sideways from a heavy burden or were it the unrelenting winds that made it bend? Maybe it was just reaching for the sun. It has witnessed times and changes and has carried the weight of the memories. I take it any day over the straight upwards growing column of smooth and plain bark of its neighbor.

It is writing week. Back to my paper / article. I am writing about death and literature, maybe that triggered new entries.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Long ago...

A wonderful color combination in the gardens of Lacock Abby. I love the silvery Eryngium slowly turning blue combined with the pink on gray stems. I think it is a Sea Holly, and I should try to grow it here in the South. It should do fine if planted in sandy soil. I know it can take the heat, but I am not sure about the humidity. There is something poetic about this plant that I always found attractive: vulnerable in spite of all its spikiness, a tender soul hiding within thorny little stars giving away its underlying fear to be hurt.

Our fantasy can help us with hard and unpleasant times in childhood. When I was five years old my mother died. I remember playing later for hours in a fantasy world I had created in a corner on the floor of my lonely small room. On a gray linoleum tile I had placed a little plastic monkey, a palm tree made out of wiry material with fuzzy stuff around it, like pipe cleaners, and a stuffed giraffe inhabited the island in the sea. I arranged and rearranged the island dwellers, sent them on many adventures, but in the end they were always safe and sound on their protected gray island tile. When I was eight my new step mother told me to pick that "stuff" from the floor "where it does not belong." She could not understand my need for my fantasy island. I put it away, and put it up again the next day, she complained again and on it went. I was not spiteful. I simply could not part from my best friends. They were the last I saw from my bed before the lights went out, and they were the first to greet me in the morning. How could I put them away? They were not "stuff" cluttering the floor and possibly prone to catch dust bunnies, they were my sanity on that island in the huge ocean that had turned my ship and caused me almost drown. I barely kept my head above water, and seeing my pals on their island kept my focus and gave me hope in the rough sea while I was slowly learning to tackle the weaves. Going under, not being able to breath, ready to give up and drown, when the waves popped my had up again at the last moment, just enough to catch enough breath to continue the fight with the next wave pulling me under. Just envisioning my friends in the darkness was comforting. In the eyes of my stepmother I could have cleaned up after playing. I could not conceive her inability to recognize the beauty and sanctity of gray linoleum island. Was it despair and anguish that I felt when told time and again to get rid of "that stuff"? I remember the tears when my father finally talked to me about cleaning up, I think he sensed my irrational despair because his voice is soft and soothing in my memory. I could keep my island.