I 0 love .
I 0 am writing in
it 1 now in the late afternoon loveliness , much interrupted by the mosquitoes and the temptation to look at all the glories of the new green leaves washed half an hour ago in a cold shower .
Two owls are perched near
me 0 , and are carrying on a long conversation that
I 0 enjoy as much as any warbling of nightingales .
The gentleman owl says [ [ musical notes occur here in the printed text ] ] , and she answers from her tree a little way off , [ [ musical notes ] ] , beautifully assenting to and completing her lord ’s remark , as becomes a properly constructed German she-owl .
They say the same thing over and over again so emphatically that
I 0 think it must be something nasty about
me 0 ; but
I 0 shall not let
myself 0 be frightened away by the sarcasm of owls .
This 1 is less
a garden 2 than
a wilderness 3 .
No one 4 has lived in
the house 5 , much less in
the garden 1 , for twenty-five years , and it is such
a pretty old place 5 that
, must have belonged to
the people who might have lived
and did not , deliberately preferring the horrors of 6
that vast number of eyeless and earless persons of whom
the world 10
seems chiefly composed 9
Noseless too , though it does not sound pretty ; but the greater part of
my 0 spring happiness is due to the scent of the wet earth and young leaves .
I 0 am always happy ( out of doors be it understood , for indoors there are
servants 11 and furniture ) but in quite different ways , and
my 0 spring happiness bears no resemblance to
my 0 summer or autumn happiness , though it is not more intense , and there were days last winter when
I 0 danced for sheer joy out in
, in spite of
frost-bound garden 1
my 0 years and
children 12 .
I 0 did it behind a bush , having a due regard for the decencies .
There are so many bird-cherries round
me 0 , great trees with branches sweeping the grass , and they are so wreathed just now with white blossoms and tenderest green that
the garden 1 looks like a wedding .
I 0 never saw such masses of them ; they seemed to fill
the place 1 .
, and right in the middle of
a little stream that bounds
the garden 1
on the east 13
the cornfield beyond 14 , there is an immense one , a picture of grace and glory against the cold blue of the spring sky .
is surrounded by
cornfields 15 and
meadows 16 , and beyond are great stretches of
sandy heath 17 and
pine forests 18 , and where
the forests 18 leave off
the bare heath 19 begins again ; but
the forests 18 are beautiful in
their 18 lofty , pink-stemmed vastness , far overhead the crowns of softest gray-green , and underfoot a bright green wortleberry carpet , and everywhere the breathless silence ; and
the bare heaths 19 are beautiful too , for one can see across
them 19 into eternity almost , and to go out on to
them 19 with one ’s face towards the setting sun is like going into the very presence of
God 20 .
In the middle of
this plain 21 is
, and in the middle of
the oasis of birdcherries and greenery where
happy days 1
the oasis 1 is
the gray stone house with many gables where
reluctant nights 5
The house 5 is very old , and has been added to at various times .
It 5 was
a convent 22 before the Thirty Years ’ War , and
the vaulted chapel 23 , with
its 23 brick floor worn by pious
peasant 24 knees , is now used as
a hall 25 .
Gustavus Adolphus 26 and passed through more than once , as is duly recorded in archives still preserved , for
we 28 are on what was then
the high-road between
Brandenburg the unfortunate 31 29
was no doubt
The Lion of
the North 32 26
an estimable person 66 and acted wholly up to
his 26 convictions , but
he 26 must have sadly upset
the peaceful nuns , who were not without convictions of
them 33 out on to
the wide , empty plain 34 to piteously seek some life to replace the life of silence
here 5 .
From nearly all the windows of
the house 5
I 0 can look out across
the plain 34 , with no obstacle in the shape of
a hill 35 , right away to a blue line of
distant forest 36 , and on the west side uninterruptedly to the setting sun -- nothing but
a green , rolling plain 37 , with a sharp edge against the sunset .
I 0 love those west windows better than any others , and have chosen on that side of
the house 5 so that even times of hair-brushing may not be entirely lost , and
the young woman who attends to such matters 39 has been taught to fulfil
her 39 duties about
a mistress recumbent in an easychair before an open window 0 , and not to profane with chatter that sweet and solemn time .
This girl 39 is grieved at
my 0 habit of living almost in
the garden 1 , and all
her 39 ideas as to the sort of life
a respectable German lady 40 should lead have got into a sad muddle since
she 39 came to
me 0 .
The people round about 41 are persuaded that
I 0 am , to put it as kindly as possible , exceedingly eccentric , for the news has travelled that
I 0 spend the day out of doors with a book , and that no mortal eye has ever yet seen
me 0 sew or cook .
But why cook when
you 42 can get
some one 65 to cook for
you 43 ?
And as for sewing ,
the maids 44 will hem the sheets better and quicker than
I 0 could , and all forms of needlework of the fancy order are inventions of
the evil one 45 for keeping
the foolish 46 from applying
their 46 heart to wisdom .
We 47 had been married five years before it struck
us 47 that
we 47 might as well make use of
this place 50 by coming down and living in
it 64 .
Those five years were spent
, and during their whole interminable length
in a flat in
a town 49 48
I 0 was perfectly miserable and perfectly healthy , which disposes of the ugly notion that has at times disturbed
me 0 that
my 0 happiness
here 50 is less due to
the garden 1 than to a good digestion .
we 47 were wasting
our 47 lives
there 48 ,
here 50 was
this dear place 67 with dandelions up to the very door , all the paths grass-grown and completely effaced , in winter so lonely , with
nobody but the north wind 51 taking the least notice of
it 64 , and in May -- in all those five lovely Mays --
no one 52 to look at the wonderful bird-cherries and still more wonderful masses of lilacs , everything glowing and blowing , the virginia creeper madder every year , until at last , in October , the very roof was wreathed with blood-red tresses , the owls and the squirrels and all the blessed little birds reigning supreme , and not a living creature ever entering
the empty house 5 except the snakes , which got into the habit during those silent years of wriggling up the south wall into
the rooms on that side 53 whenever
the old housekeeper 54 opened the windows .
All that was
here 50 , -- peace , and happiness , and a reasonable life , -- and yet it never struck
me 0 to come and live in
it 64 .
I 0 am astonished , and can in no way account for the tardiness of
my 0 discovery that
here 50 , in this far-away corner , was
kingdom of heaven 68
Indeed , so little did it enter
my 0 head to even use
the place 50 in summer , that
I 0 submitted to weeks of seaside life with all its horrors every year ; until at last , in the early spring of last year , having come down for the opening of , and wandering out afterwards into
the bare and desolate garden 1 ,
I 0 do n’t know what smell of wet earth or rotting leaves brought back
my 0 childhood with a rush and all the happy days
I 0 had spent in
a garden 57 .
I 0 ever forget that day ?
It was the beginning of
my 0 real life ,
my 0 coming of age as it were , and entering into
my 0 kingdom .
Early March , gray , quiet skies , and
brown , quiet earth 58 ; leafless and sad and lonely enough out there in the damp and silence , yet there
I 0 stood feeling the same rapture of pure delight in the first breath of spring that
I 0 used to as
a child 59 , and the five wasted years fell from
me 0 like a cloak , and
the world 10 was full of hope , and
I 0 vowed
myself 0 then and there to nature , and have been happy ever since .
being indulgent , and with some faint thought perhaps that it might be as well to look after
the place 50 , consented to live in
it 64 at any rate for a time ; whereupon followed six specially blissful weeks from the end of April into June , during which
I 0 was
here 50 alone , supposed to be superintending the painting and papering , but as a matter of fact only going into
the house 5 when
the workmen 61 had gone out of
it 5 .
I 0 was !
I 0 do n’t remember any time quite so perfect since the days when
I 0 was too little to do lessons and was turned out with sugar on
my 0 eleven o’clock bread and butter on to
a lawn closely strewn with dandelions and daisies 62 .
The sugar on the bread and butter has lost its charm , but
I 0 love the dandelions and daisies even more passionately now than then , and never would endure to see them all mown away if
I 0 were not certain that in a day or two they would be pushing up their little faces again as jauntily as ever .
During those six weeks
I 0 lived in a world of dandelions and delights .
The dandelions carpeted the three lawns , -- they used to be lawns , but have long since blossomed out into meadows filled with every sort of pretty weed , -- and under and among the groups of leafless oaks and beeches were blue hepaticas , white anemones , violets , and celandines in sheets .
The celandines in particular delighted
me 0 with their clean , happy brightness , so beautifully trim and newly varnished , as though they too had had
the painters 63 at work on them .
Then , when the anemones went , came a few stray periwinkles and Solomon ’s Seal , and all the birdcherries blossomed in a burst .
And then , before
I 0 had a little got used to the joy of their flowers against the sky , came the lilacs -- masses and masses of them , in clumps on the grass , with other shrubs and trees by the side of walks , and one great continuous bank of them half a mile long right past the west front of
the house 5 , away down as far as one could see , shining glorious against a background of firs .
When that time came , and when , before it was over , the acacias all blossomed too , and four great clumps of pale , silvery-pink peonies flowered under the south windows ,
I 0 felt so absolutely happy , and blest , and thankful , and grateful , that
I 0 really can not describe it .
My 0 days seemed to melt away in a dream of pink and purple peace .