Pansy petals are flapping in the cold wind. It’s almost noon and it’s still too frigid for me to work in the garden. So I’m listening to Fleetwood Mac and writing instead.
I don’t know about you, but I go through periods where I crave a certain feel in the fiction I consume. Sometimes I need the bone-cracking chill of winter, sometimes I need a sun on the sails of boat on blue-green seas, sometimes I need the golden waves of the prairie.
My Andrea Reads America reading project has been on hold these past weeks because of my mood-driven reading. Last week, I needed the moors of England. But not just any moors of England, I needed the melancholy moors and psychological snarls of Daphne du Maurier. I had to re-read My Cousin Rachel. And then I needed more du Maurier, so I tried Jamaica Inn. Story-wise, it wasn’t as good as My Cousin Rachel, but it certainly delivered on the moody moors I was hungry for.
I was about to start in on Frenchman’s Creek again — after savoring du Maurier for three years, allowing myself one book per year, I was ready to stop delaying gratification and go into in full-on du Maurier binge — but then I started my gardening vacation. I’ve tried gardening fiction and creative non-fiction in the past, but rarely did it sate my “I want to read a book that makes me feel the magic of plants and soil and earth and sun and captures whatever it is about growing flowers that makes me break my body in order to surround myself with them” need.
Except! Except The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I get that book, and that book gets me. It’s not great literature, and I don’t care. It’s got sun and flowers and love and language, it’s got a misfit, it’s got angst and brightness, it’s got dirt and florists and an underlying magic that I’m an absolute sucker for. It captures the mood I want right now, and I’m trying to stretch it out so it doesn’t end too soon, before I have another book lined up to match my mood. I’m resisting reading it during the day even though I’m on vacation.
I think, though, that I may be able to stop rationing it. I may be able to start devouring it. I think I may have another book lined up. I posted a photo of my mulched flower beds in the #good-news channel on the Support Driven Slack, and it prompted chatter about a book, Lab Girl, which Cheryl Strayed said this about:
Lab Girl made me look at trees differently. It compelled me to ponder the astonishing grace and gumption of a seed.
This is how I feel about seeds! (Also, Cheryl Strayed 😍). I think I’ve even written somewhere, either on this blog or in a journal or in my brain about the wonder of an acorn turning into a mighty oak. It’s astonishing to me.
There was some back and forth in the channel about the science aspect of the book (Lab Girl is the memoir of Hope Jahren, a geobiologist), and pop-science rubbing folks the wrong way. After having a house full of scientists over last night to hang out with my husband’s lab, I am definitely aware of the strong feelings about getting science right in entertainment and culture, and I’m eager to see where I fall in the spectrum of don’t-corrupt-science-with-story-telling versus give-me-a-good-story-to-convince-me-why-I-should-care. I’m not even sure if that accurately represents the spectrum of feelings, but at any rate, I can’t wait to read this book.
The sun and the garden are calling me right now, though. I won’t be doing any day-reading today. I’ll get to my mood reading when I can’t be out there experiencing the mood myself.