Friday, June 11, 2010

pretty things

Collections, I have many: Old photos, vintage fabric, bird nests, pretty rocks, postage stamps.  Somehow, along the way, I also started collecting quotes.  Mostly obscure ones from Victorian novels or old magazine short-stories; writings that are typically unremarkable, except perhaps for a jewel-of-a-passage here and there that transports me back 100 years to the English countryside or to a cozy turn-of-the-century parlor.   
Here is a recent one I found from a magazine story called "Pattie."  A bit melodramatic in a way that Victorian writers seem to do best, but I quite like the imagery of the main character's clothing and the contents of her work-basket.  The reference to pale-blue India silk reminded me of these photos I took a few weeks ago of some vintage dresses I have hanging from a hook on our guestroom door.
With hard eyes and drawn mouth she stood for a minute before the window. … . At last the control of her twenty-suppressed years gave way, and with trembling hands she tore the pins out of her orderly hair and let it loose in great billows below her waist. Then she flung off her simple white linen gown, and found and shook out the pale-blue India silk, whose glories had not seen the light since Mary Denis's wedding-day. … The effect as she stared into the mirror satisfied her. She looked round the room. It reflected herself, her old, admirable, systematic self, and for the moment she had that self under her heel. She snatched up her work-basket and childishly, fiercely, turned it inside out. Spools and reels of many-colored silk and cotton rolled distractedly in all directions, buttons peppered the table and floor, needles and pins sparkled among the stiff sofa-cushions. The whole cosmos was made chaos. Martha laughed again, this time with joyous relief in every line of her face. Her eyes were sad still, and lonely, but the strained look was gone—she was free.
From “Pattie” by Margaret Doane Gardiner, 1905
I'm happy to have a day at home today, still sifting through the last few gardening books in the stack I got from the library.  Supposedly it will feel like summer here this weekend.  I'm ready and so are my tomato plants!