I read the rest of English Hours very slowly, interspersed with a few issues of the New Yorker, and am not sure I have much intelligent to say about it, especially since I seem to have lost a piece of paper on which I’d written some notes while reading. But I know I wanted to share this wonderful sentence, from the essay called “North Devon”: “On huge embankments of moss and turf, smothered in wild flowers and embroidered with the finest lace-work of trailing ground-ivy, rise solid walls of flowering thorn and glistening holly and golden broom, and more strong, homely shrubs than I can name, and toss their blooming tangle to a sky which seems to look down between them, in places, from but a dozen inches of blue.” (53)

I also know that English Hours made delicious reading, especially delicious vacation-reading: I spent a little over a week off work, first at Megan’s cousin’s wedding in Annapolis, then in Williamsburg, VA, where Megan grew up. It was a wonderfully relaxing vacation: the weather in Annapolis was beautiful and everything was in walking distance from our hotel, and then in Williamsburg it rained and rained and rained; there was lots of time for reading and laughing, and lots of time for other quiet cozy things, too: doing crossword puzzles at the kitchen table or on the screened-in porch, having giggling fits while playing on the Wii Fit (which was about a billion times more fun than I expected it would be), having grilled ham and cheese for lunch, or frying up onions and mushrooms to have with scrambled eggs for breakfast. It seemed especially apt to read about England while watching the rain fall outside, though Henry James talks about glorious blue-skied days as much as he does about rainy ones.

Now I’m back in Brooklyn, and it’s chilly and autumnal and I’m pleased to be home, mountain of emails at work to wade through and messy apartment and all (the mess is entirely my own clutter—my boyfriend cleaned the kitchen and changed the sheets while I was gone!). Saturday was full of being-home-again goodness: a walk to the farmers market, where I dropped some old clothes off at textile recycling and bought a quart of organic local skim milk; the chill in the apartment with the windows open; a perfect McIntosh apple from our CSA share; a macchiato at Café Grumpy and more walking around the neighborhood with my boyfriend. One of the best things about walks in this neighborhood is that there’s a big culture of a) stoop sales (yard sales but on the sidewalk/front steps) and b) free books—sometimes stoop-sale remnants, sometimes just set out in boxes. Saturday, in a box of otherwise unremarkable-to-me books, I saw something that made me very glad I’d stopped to look: a hardcover copy, in very good shape, of the UK edition of Sissinghurst by Adam Nicolson, which has been on my to-read list since Frances at Nonsuch Book mentioned it back in June. I’m sure it’ll be a little while before I get around to reading it—I’ve got a few library books checked out now, and my neglected TBR-pile-challenge—but yay, I’m excited.

2 Responses to “The rest of English Hours, plus a vacation and a great sidewalk find”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    I was obsessed with the relationship between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf for a long time, and so snapped up anything about them whenever I found it for a reasonable price. I read Adam Nicolson’s Sea Room a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Sissinghurst is new to me, and I’m now looking forward to your write-up.

  2. Heather Says:

    Yay, I read Sea Room a few years ago too, and liked it lots as well – which is part of why I’m looking forward to this one.

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