Saturday, 21 April 2012

In the Garden with Jane Austen

Yesterday was one of those days when it felt like Friday the 13 energy had carried over.  Did you find that too? 

-  Yesterday I learned I have osteoarthitis in both knees now.  And they have been inflamed for over a month now.  Thankfully I have been told how much Tylenol I can take, and it's working.
-I got a cortisone steroid shot in one knee, to try it. The doctor accidentally hit a bone spur in my knee when giving me the shot. There's nothing quite like crying silently while keeping absolutely still. Thankfully it didn't keep hurting afterward (except for the normal deep ache both knees have right now).
-after moaning to myself that I'm under 50, and much too young to be facing the next 40 years of pain management, I decided to go to the last day Nicholas Hoare bookstore was open.
- yes, the bookstore I just discovered a year ago, was forced to close when the National Capital Commission ,a federal body that overlooks parts of the city because we are the capital of Canada, decided to raise the rent 72% suddenly.  No bookstore in the world - no business in the world - could stay open with that.  In spite of protests, letter writing, and stories in the news, the NCC refused to give an answer about why a fashionable, popular, successful bookstore was being forced to close down.  And get this:  there is no tenant waiting to come in.  So instead of regular income, the NCC is wasting our tax dollars because there will be no tenant. 
- I went in to buy some last books and commiserate and say thank you and goodbye.  I bought two birthday presents for my ex, a Mother's Day present for my mother (and just in case they read this, I can't say what they are yet!), and three books for myself:
-Woman with a Birthmark - Hakan Nesser (Chief Inspector Van Veeteren series)
- The Terrorists - Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (final book in the Martin Beck series)
and then, a final treat for me:
- In the Garden with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson

I started reading it right away on the bus on the way to work.  It took all the stress and worry from me, and I lost myself in reading about Jane Austen and the gardens she grew in her lifetime.  Did you know that Jane and her family were avid gardeners?  That as daughters of a rector, they grew their own vegetables and fruit as children, and when they finally landed at Chawton Cottage, they had an orchard, and several kinds of gardens - herb, vegetable, flower. Chawton Cottage was one of two that James,  her well-to-do brother offered them.  It was here that Jane lived out the final 8 years of her life, and here where she wrote her final three novels.  He took excellent care of them, redesigning part of the cottage for their comfort, and adding gardens and walkways so that they could take their daily walks. They had chickens, their own fruit and vegetables, flower gardens, herbs, everything a gentlewoman could need to be self-sufficient and in charge of her own home.  Jane delighted in this.

In the Garden with Jane Austen is filled with bits from her letters to Cassandra, descriptions of gardens or walks from her novels, and most wonderfully, pictures of where Jane lived, and descriptions from her letters of the  gardens had.   The ones  at Chawton Cottage have been recreated, and there is an introduction to this book written by Celia Simpson, Head Gardener at Jane Austen's house. I find I didn't know this could be a career choice, but how fabulous and wonderful, to be head gardener now at Jane Austen's house!!  I am discovering, partly because of The Morville Hours, but mostly I have always been interested in the history of plants and gardens, what 16th and 17th century gardens looked like, how they were arranged and used.  So I love seeing the layout of Jane's gardens, and the flowers she grew, and that she had her own orchard. 

There are also photos of the great houses she visited, and around her areas she lived, that would have influenced her writing as well as where she would have walked for exercise. Some photos are  also of  the settings for some of the movies made from her novels.  There are recipes from her time, and drawings and sketches by family members.  Did you know she kept bees, and made mead from the honey?  

This is a lovely book.  It is just the thing to ease care and worry and remind myself of the beauty all around, and that with luck, I will be comfortable enough to get into my garden this year.  I'm toying with a plan to see if I can plant a tiny corner of Jane Austen flowers, what do you think?  I think it would be a lot of fun.  I already have some pinks, though I think I need to replenish them.  When I finish In the Garden with Jane Austen, I will do a post on the flowers she had and loved to grow. 

Here is a link to Jane Austen's House Museum, where there is a virtual tour, and a list of what's on this year.
and with pictures of Jane's Gardens just starting to bloom, here is a link to Jane Austen's House Museum blog.  I'll be coming here regularly now!  I didn't know this existed. 

Once again, a book provides solace and comfort, and while I am very sad to see the end of Nicholas Hoare bookstore here, I have some wonderful books from England (which they specialized in) to remember them by - The Morville Hours, and now In the Garden with Jane Austen.

Has a book brought you comfort lately, or restored your spirits?  Do you walk  in gardens or in nature like Jane Austen did, or Mary Oliver does (my favourite poet), as a way to find beauty and joy in life?  Do you garden?


Sarsafrass said...

I was so saddened to hear about Nicholas Hoare. The whole situation is really absurd! Their Montreal store is also closing, such a shame.

Susan said...

Hi Sarsafrass: Oh, I didn't hear about their Montreal store too! I had heard they had a meeting, but nothing more. Do you know why the Montreal store closed too?

It really is absurd, isn't it?

bermudaonion said...

I'm so sorry you're having to learn to manage pain. I know it's difficult because my 24 year old son suffers from psoriatic arthritis and he's been trying to manage pain without drugs.

I'm also sorry to hear about your bookstore closing - that's horrible.

Stefanie said...

Oh no! Sorry about your arthritis. My mom has osterarthritis in her feet which makes her miserable from time to time. Sorry to hear about the bookstore having to close. That really stinks. But oh, that In the Garden with Jane Austen book! I'm going to have to see if I can find one for myself :)

Susan said...

bermudaonion: thanks :-) Your son is awfully young to have arthritis, isn't he? It's not something I know much about, so now I have to learn.

Stefanie: I'm sorry about your mother, in her feet - oh, that's not easy to get around with, either.

I hope you can find In the Garden with Jane Austen, it has been out for a couple of years now. It really is a lovely book :-)

Bybee said...

I'm sorry about your poor knees. With me, it's 'poor shoulders'. Knees must be much worse.

In The Garden with Jane Austen seems like such a fresh way of looking at her world. Sometimes that drawing-room stuff gets to me, too stuffy.

Susan said...

Bybee: I think arthritis anywhere hurts! lol I know it now, too, sadly.

I have to admit, Book-twin, that I am a teeny tiny bit shocked that you find Jane Austen sometimes stuffy! lol you my Pulitzer-Prize winning reader! In the Garden with Jane Austen is fun because we get to see her - yes, outside the drawing room! lol I love reading about gardens, and finding my favourite author in the garden is like a bit of heaven.:-)

JaneGS said...

I never think of Austen as actually gardening--walking and enjoying the scenery, but not actually working the land. Interesting book, and one that appeals to me very much.

I think I might get this for my mom for Mother's Day--she will be 89 in May, still an avid gardener and Austen enthusiast.

Susan said...

Jane: there is a Jame Austen and tea book that I just saw, too! I had to force myself to put that back, but only because my birthday is coming up and I am putting it on my birthday list! lol!

It is such a sweet book, I think your mother will like it. I know, I was surprised that Jane liked to garden, too. It really adds an extra dimension to her character, doesn't it?

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

What a lovely cover on this one.

Susan said...

Diane: It is, isn't it? The photographs inside are lovely too, as well as the descriptions of gardens in Jane's time,and what some of her letters say (that she did, or planted, or walked amongst).