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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back Tracking in the Rabbit Hole

I am still down in this rabbit hole chasing after ideas and quotes in "The Garden that I Love" by Alfred Austin (1894).

You can imagine this rabbit hole in any way that suits you.

Maybe you think of it as various underground runs with occasional side rooms where, if you peak in, you'll see meadow voles wearing aprons and having little tea parties?  But watch where you are going, because comparatively giant moles wearing heavy blue overalls and glasses with thick lenses are busily digging out more tunnels and rooms.  They keep expanding the rabbit hole by pushing something interesting just a little further out of reach, enticing you to keep going, to stay up later, to find that thing. Then about the time you come to that thing, you see something else and before you know it, you are so far down in the rabbit hole that you decide it is best to keep going.

Maybe the exit is closer than the entrance?

Truth be told, my rabbit hole looks a lot like a chair by the window, where there is good light in the day time and a view of the garden and bird feeders. Next to the chair is a side table holding a tall stack of books, mostly old gardening books but there are a few news one, too. There is just enough room left for a good lamp for night time rabbit hole explorations. On the floor beside the chair is a basket filled with seed and plant catalogs.

I spent quite a bit of time this morning in that rabbit hole, searching for a passage that I read a few days ago in The Garden that I Love. It seemed to me the perfect description of how to determine the amount of space a plant needs in a garden.

I see my new friends as I look back through the pages I've already read. There's the author plus his sister Veronica and their frequent visitors, the Poet and Lamia.  I have just a slight idea of who they are and how they relate to the author in real life. They are there throughout the book, so are always present in this rabbit hole.

I knew generally where in the book I'd read the passage about how to space plants out in a garden but I didn't mark it, so I had to go back and hunt for it.

Going backwards through a rabbit hole can be treacherous travel, but it is sometimes necessary.  Why didn't I mark that passage or even the page where the passage was? Why didn't I scribble a little note or draw a tiny star in the margin?  Well, if a 116 year old book (mine is the 1896 edition) has made it so far without someone dog-earing pages, or underlining passages, or highlighting keywords, I don't feel like I should start doing so now.    Though, I do enjoy opening an old gardening book and finding notes in the margins or something underlined. I also like finding old newspaper clippings or other handwritten notes slipped in between the pages of the book.

But I am always reminded that one should must respect the rabbit hole, the book, and leave it in the same condition that she found it in, so others can enjoy it, too.  The only thing that shouldn't be in the same condition after a run through a rabbit hole or a read through a book is the person who fell in. They should be changed, filled with new ideas and old ideas that are new to them.

Finally, I found the passage about plant spacing that I was seeking.  It's too good to tack to the end of a post, as almost an afterthought.  I'll start a new post for it, as soon as I can find my way to the exit, or is it the entrance, of this rabbit hole, The Garden that I Love.

5 comments:

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I say I am the queen of getting sidetracked. I think that is similar to your rabbit hole experiences. I love old and not so old garden books, too. I need to find more time to spend with them.

Leslie said...

Did you ever see the movie Labyrinth? This rabbit hole reminds me of that. You made me stop and ponder who might someday hold the books that we treasure now. Wouldn't it be fun to see that! Hope you get out soon...some of us need to know what plant spacing guidelines were 116 years ago!

Flâneur Gardener said...

I'm very much charmed by your love of books. You sound almost as if you consider yourself a custodian of your books, and though we can never know if anybody else will ever read our obscure centenary books, I still agree that we have a duty to treat them with some respect - and maybe one day pass them on to another Reader.

cynthia said...

Carol, thank you so much for your happy place thinking this morning. I do want to live in that world, even if just for my morning coffee

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

It's nice to see you're having so much fun in your rabbit holes my friend. Keep tunneling.~~Dee