The Knitty Gritty Homestead, from my front step.
One of my favourite books ever is "Thornyhold" by Mary Stewart. Here is a summary, copied from Amazon, edited by me, and pasted here:
This old-fashioned gothic romance is as good as they get. When Gilly's witch aunt leaves Thornyhold to her, a house in the middle of the woods, Gilly finds that she has inherited far more than she realized. Along with the house comes a cat, a still room filled with herbs (and a missing recipe book), an attic chamber with carrier pigeons (who have secret messages), and an attractive neighbor whose young son offers the sacred and unique blessing of friendship. But Thornyhold possesses far more than even these simple offerings. The place itself seems to invoke otherworldly gifts as well: Gilly cultivates the abilities to heal and to foresee the future once she makes Thornyhold her home.
I read it in a former life, when I was single, living in a country one-room schoolhouse, and indulging my every whim (e.g. I read this book in one sitting, into the wee hours, sustaining myself with tea, dill pickles, and crackers)...playing the piano and mandolin, watching the stars from the front step, creating gardens where school children played a century ago, napping and dreaming and wondering about what the future would bring.
I think of this book often as I work to reclaim the gardens established here by the former owner. Mint and violets wrestle for dominance, while lilies bloom randomly, interspersed with hydrangeas, raspberry canes, and hollyhocks. Thyme, sage, comfrey, oregano, and cicely elbow their way through tall invaders, and hold their ground. If there was a plan in place when it was all planted, it has yet to reveal itself to me.
I love to get down on my hands and knees and clear little areas of weeds...I half expect a fairy to come out of the dense undergrowth to scold me for tearing up her tiny garden patch. I am patient with the gardens here, grateful for what is growing, and always dreaming of what it will all look like 10 years from now, once I've managed to move things around a bit.
For now, things just bloom as they bloom. I'm thrilled with what greets me every day:
Herds of conflowers...
A rogue sunflower beside our winter bird-feeder.
Hydrangeas, all ostentatious in their debutante gowns.
Hollyhocks as high as an elephant's eye.
And of course, best of all, the patrons of this botanical restaurant...monarchs, hummingbirds, and bees.
I'm off to pack for our first family camping trip this weekend, and am wishing I'd hunted down this book for a re-read! Instead, I'll be working on my Tea Leaves Cardigan, and enjoying every moment with my kids. Have a great one.