Saturday, April 14, 2007

From the Library.....

When I left the Library today Husband looked askance at the armful of books I carried, - and well he might. When will I find time to read four pleasurable books and one that requires concentration, as well as listen to the tapes I have at home - two boxes of Edward Rutherford's "The Forest" and six tapes of Nevil Shute's "Trustee from the Tool Room" The tapes are designed to keep me glued to the loom as I listen and weave, - and I must say they fulfil their purpose most successfully.

So what made me order all these books in addition to the tapes that await me in the Loom Room?

Well, from somewhere memories of the books of Gladys Taber came to haunt me. I think they were recalled when I happened upon Elizabeth Goudge, who wrote much the same type of book as Gladys and at much the same period in the 20th century.

Old Fashioned books - but books that bring back memories of life as it was then, - before TV, before computers, before morality loosened all her stays.

Glady Taber's Stillmeadow books centre around the old home that she and
her friend, Jill (Eleanor Sanford Mayer) escaped to from the bustle of New York, in order to provide a country upbringing for their children. Jill's husband had died in 1943. and Gladys and her husband, Frank Albion, were divorced in 1946. Jill and Gladys were childhood friends, who had also roomed together in College and maintained a close and loving friendship through the years until Jill died in 1960.

I think that Gladys was the original "Blogger" - Stillmeadow Road, the book I am reading now, is a collection of short essays that she has written through the year, as the Seasons pass.

I can remember when I was a young mother reading first her columns in The Family Circle magazine, and the pleasure and encouragement they gave me. The stories about Stillmeadow, - the struggle they had to bring the old house which spoke to them when they first discovered it - "Here I am, What took you so long" into the home it was as depicted below.

Her gardening tales, her cooking comments, and the graceful way she had of describing the times as they were then, in the forties and fifties, keep me in a delightfully nostalgic haze.

Of the 59 books that Gladys Taber wrote, only a few are still in print, so it is not easy to come by them. Hence my haste in ordering what the library does have, in case they end up in the discard bin.

Here is an excerpt from The Stillmeadow Road, - writing which appeals to my own enjoyment and appreciation of the changing seasons.

"Now the light lengthens as the season moves toward May. Dusk is violet, night cool and tender. Sunrise is luminous. Daffodils star the hill by the pond and bloom in the Quiet Garden. Violets begin to open their pointed buds. We have the tiny white violets in the meadow and the dark purple around the house, and the Confederate violets are ivory white streaked with true blue. And by the pond, the dogtooth yellow violets hang their delicate trumpets. In fact, violets love our soil so well that the vegetable garden has hundreds of the purple ones and Jill has to spade them up before planting. I save as many as I can, and must have carried in bushels and bushels to be set around the giant maple trees, along the picket fence and around the terrace.

At night the peepers sing away in the swamp, a flutelike sound. This is the beginning of a new cycle of growth, a quickening of the earth which will only end as the harvest is gathered in the autumn. And as Hal Borland says "Spring is one thing that man has no hand in."

When I go out with the dogs, I feel a quickening in my spirit too. The season of bloom is upon us, and then the green summer days, and at last the ripeness of autumn, all ordered and unchanged by the world's dissensions. It is something to count on.

Humbly I thank God for the eternal miracle of spring."

And here is advice from Gladys on the importance of touching the quietness of nature, and drawing from it the spiritual strength to keep things in proportion. How often things get away from us, - we lose perspective in our day to day lives, and the disturbances which result can be heartbreaking.

Here is a small way to regain peace....

A time of quietude
brings things into proportion
and give us strength.

We all need to take time
from the busyness of living,
even if it be only a few minutes
to watch the sun go down
or the city lights
blossom against a canyoned sky.

We need time to dream,
time to remember,
and time to reach toward the infinite.

Time to be.

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