In spring, time moves quickly. Mornings have lightened then become darker once more with the winding forwards of the clocks. The dawn chorus seeps through my open window each day and wakes me half an hour before my alarm. The park at the end of the road has had its first mowing, and the scent of cut grass soaks the air. A woodpecker has begun to frequent the trees. I hear him drumming out his territory and sometimes glimpse red feathers glimmering in the sun.
In this most mercurial season, nature is a show-off, throwing everything at us to demonstrate what she can do. One day, she paints the leaden sky with a thick, bright rainbow. On the next, she sends snow. Just when I’ve begun to forget the cold, I’m walking in soaking flakes, grass coated white, bushes laden. Bulrush heads are like soggy sticks of candy floss dusted with icing.
The snow soon melts and days of mist follow, but it doesn’t stop the industry of the birds. A great tit calls loudly from the maple, sparrows hop and chitter in the privet, starlings mewl and pigeons forage. There is no sign of life from the smallest maple in the park, the harbinger of autumn that I had feared dead. But a new tree has appeared from nowhere. The label tells me it was planted officially, but with trees there is always the possibility of enchantment. I feel responsible for it, such a small sapling among mature neighbours. I fear vandalism. But it seems strong, is already full of buds. I hope it makes it.
In my last post, I wrote about giving up on a story. My elderly protagonist is still enjoying an early retirement, but I found myself thinking about what happens to all those ideas when they don’t get used. And as the spring snow was falling around me, I happened upon a curious place….
The garden of lost ideas by Andrea Stephenson
There is no path to the garden of lost ideas. You will never find your way here accidentally, except perhaps in dreams. It is cloistered by briars an eternity thick. Its walls are far too high to climb. If there is a gate, it is not a gate that can be seen.
There are no seasons in this garden, and there is every season at once. Its gardeners are enigmatic creatures, born of leaf and twig, fur and horn.
Seeds drift across the garden like pollen, an infinity of golden floss that gilds the foliage. The gardeners sieve and sift, capture seeds in spindly fingers. They plant them in rich dark loam, and tend each one with care and patience. An unfinished painting here, an untold story there, forgotten thoughts, abandoned sketches, lost notebooks and torn canvases. All find their way here eventually. This is a garden of second chances and its gardeners are the shepherds of lost ideas.
The flowers that bloom here are fragile. Stalks as thin as thread, petals as sheer as gossamer. No one flower like another. The garden overflows with delicate beauties that shimmer in the moonlight. The gardener never knows which will successfully bloom and which will wither; which will sprout and which will remain soil-bound, perhaps forever. So she tends each frail bloom, charming them with lilting whispers.
Sometimes, those fragile blooms will burst. Their colours will grow more vibrant, their petals more substantial. And then the gardener knows her work is done. Somewhere in the world outside the garden the idea has found its purpose once more. The flower grows not only in the garden, but in someone’s imagination. A tale has been told. A picture has been painted. The idea is no longer lost, but has been found.
Blogger book of the month: Britt Skrabanek – Nola Fran Evie
Britt Skrabanek is an enthusiastic, positive and energetic blogger, currently experimenting with creative memoir on her blog. I’ve enjoyed all of her engaging and unique books: Everything is Not Bigger is a story of identify and self-discovery, Beneath the Satin Gloves is a time slip spy story. But I think her third book Nola Fran Evie is the best she has written yet. The true story behind this book is as fascinating as the book itself – a vintage handbag, found by the author, containing baseball tickets from 1954, a voting receipt and a shopping list. From these finds, Britt has woven a wonderful story of the lives of four women. Nola, Fran and Evie meet when they play baseball for the All American Girls Professional Baseball league during the 40s and 50s. When the league folds in 1954, their lives take them in different directions, until one fateful day they’re brought back together again. Their stories take in love, loss, disappointment, jazz and the civil rights movement. And interwoven with the stories of these women from the past is the present-day story of Jacks, who will also have a role to play in continuing their story. This book is a fantastic read. The characters come to life on the page and at turns, you root for each of them. It is funny, moving, nostalgic and fast-paced. Britt’s books have just been published as paperbacks and are also available as ebooks. You can visit Britt’s blog here, and her Amazon author page here.