Can we grow roses here, you ask? Well, if one has a hothouse one certainly can, but few gardeners attempt to grow them out-of-doors, because unless the cut-back plants are banked with plenty of bark chips after the season, and if there is not a deep enough snow cover to blanket them, they will not survive our winter.
But with no effort whatever on our parts we ejoy Dea's own wild roses every June for two or three glorious weeks. They grow under trees and along pathways and on the mossy banks of little snow-fed creeks. Unlike the cultivated grandes dames roses - the grandifloras, floribundas, cabbage and tea roses and rambling beauties - the wild rose is a modest country maiden indeed, a simple five-petalled single, not much broader across than an Aristasian Half Crown. On a warm day when no breeeze is stirring, if one walks quietly though a birch woods filled with wild roses growing amidst the cow-parnsips and unspiralling ferns, one can detect the most delicate aroma, the true archetype of the more robust and complex perfumes favored by the pampered grandes dames., all the richer for its delicate simplicty.
The shy wild rose looks best, I think, wrapped in her bud, petals still furled; she is then a much deeper rose color than her blossom itself, which is really a very light pink. Her bud lasts for a week, then opens, and she loses her dainty petals in just a couple of days. Here is a picture of a mountain wild rose still cloaked in her bud.
She may lose her petals quickly, but she still has more to give, for just after the first frost - in early September, that is - wild rose hips are ready to pick. One can tell that apples are in the rose family, because the ripe rose hips are like tiny, elongated apples - a dull, dusky red. We make them into jellies, jams and teas, but one must be careful to strain out all the sharp seeds first.
I was surprised that there are places where things are only sold, and they are made somewhere else. Where I come from, a girl wishing to purchase a gown goes to the seamstress, and they talk about it, and she is measured and... well, appreciated, one might say, by the seamstress, who can then make the dress to truly fit the girl. Sometimes a maker will make something without knowing who will buy it, of course, and there are usually some of those in a shop, but one is more likely to find them at the market-fair, on the great Festival and Gathering Days. I have never before seen streets lined with places where one can buy things made elsewhere.
See what I found? This dress, so fine and soft. The lady said the material was silk, and the cut was Trentish. I have never worn anything so fine. The lady in the shop showed me a light blue dress, too, but in my village we wear white until we... you know, until we meet another in the Mysteries. (Oh, can I tell you? I bought the blue one, too. I couldn't resist. It is improper even to think of such things, but it seemed to me that Sade would like it. May I have another glass of water, please?)
The lady in the shop said I had to have some other things that I'm wearing underneath; they are made of silk, too, but they don't swish around the same way; they fit very close. And silk hose, too, as light as cobwebs. The way the hose and the other things fit so close, and they way the dress slides against my skin makes me feel - well, I can't quite describe it. Grown up, certainly, and sort of well, excited, I guess, in a way I've never felt before. Sort of like swimming in a warm lake under a full August moon, all magical, and the water slipping by with its smooth touch against your skin, but also, well, it sounds silly, but a little like how I feel when Sade rides by at the head of her Guard, with her cloak, flowing back behind her, especially when she turns and looks at me with her brown eyes, and she smiles.
I do not wear the skins of animals, but I found this belt - see, it is the Moon in all her phases, each made of silver, and linked together by these two little chains. I hope Sade does not think I have been wasteful.
I bought something for Sade, too. Have you ever seen such a brilliant crimson? The shoplady said silk takes a dye like nothing else, and you can see it is so. It is very short (the lady said something about "Infra..." but I do not remember the rest) Sade usually wears short tunics for freedom of movement, and her legs are so sleek and strong... Oh, you saw her? She has been here? Oh, I am so glad. She will be back?
Oh, I am nervous, now; it is a great liberty to buy these gifts for her, and I was very bold, because I bought this one, too: look, it goes all the way to the floor, and I've never seen the colour before. Cobalt blue? Ah, well then, cobalt blue, and a high collar of velvet in the same colour, sewn all over with little gold stars. It is a robe for a hero. I do not know if I will ever be brave enough to show it to her; because then she will know how I feel about her.
Oh. I hope she will be back soon. I wish there was something I could do to speed the time. Waltz? No, I have never heard of it, but I expect if you show me, I can learn.
Mignonette, I'm so delighted that we have a gardener here! Nasturtiums are some of my favourites, too, because they are so cheerful, as you say, and because they are so forgiving. If you go away for a hot weekend the other flowers all droop, but nasturtiums seems to grow brighter and stronger! Tell me, have you ever added their leaves to a salad? But roses are still my favourite. Can you grow roses, in your climate?
Candida, how do you ever find such marvelous things? A fur cape! I love the way it swings. As far as my latest ventures, I have been ever studying, ever so seriously, the formal art of pattern making, and I am making up a very precise set of pattern blocks (now that I know what they are) for my very own personal body. This takes time and is, I admit, somewhat boring. I did make a couple of white confections for afternoon wear, one of white linen, unadorned, very Dior in cut. It takes about an hour to iron, and looks heavenly for two, and then it goes all to wrinkles, unless one only wears it to wander about on cool green lawns, and never ever sits down or exerts oneself. The other is a peasant blouse, trimmed with lace and with long full sleeves; and a skirt, both made with white muslin. The skirt is made of three layers of muslin, but the blouse only of one, so modesty depends on satisfactory underclothes. I have fantasies about wearing it without anything underneath, but I never shall as long as there is a remote possibility of someone else being around. Alas, dreams are more fragile than muslin.
Petal, your dress sounds, well, celestial. Shall we ever see a picture of it?
You know, I feel a definite urge to go moonbathing tonight. Later!
I agree with Elizabeth Ruth that flowers have lovely names, but their blossoms are even lovelier, of course, and their petals softer than the most delicate feminine skin. In mid-winter, when we are all about to go mad from the darkness, I order my seeds from an old seed company Back East, where one can buy a packet of seeds or a whole sack full to plant a flower box or a thousand acres. I just buy packets of course, but I like to make believe I am buying seeds by the pound. Did you know that there are 200,000 pansy seeds in a pound?
Well, the seeds shortly arrive and we start them in little tiny pots in March and April, in hundreds of little teensy pots of very thin Bakelite, so that the entire dining room table is covered in pots and we must entertain in the kitchen for the next three months. I grow snapdragons, acroclinium, candytuft, helichrysum, sweetpea, lobelia, pansies, violas, calendula, stocks, marigolds, alyssum, petunias, asters, dianthus, daisies and dahlias. And, oh, yes, nasturtiums. (More of them later!) By late May, the earliest we can put the little sets outdoors to get hardened off, the dining room table is solid green except for the early bloomers , the marigolds, of course.
Then when the babies are all hardened off, we set them into planters and pots and old salad bowls and every sort of container we can spare Ñ fifty or sixty in all, and big ones, too! Now, by mid-July, our "potted garden" is nearing its height, on all the borders of our west-facing deck, on the railings, on the front porch, on our deep window sills. The aroma is wonderful. There are always so many blooms that we can cut them and fill vases throughout the house with fresh flowers daily.
But I said I would get back to the nasturtiums, didn't I? Well, I have a soft spot for them, because when I was a little girl and wanted to plant my first flower garden, my mother gave me nasturtium seeds to plant, because she knew they were easy to grow and the seeds are large, smooth and round so that one feels one is really planting something, whereas pansy or lobelia seeds are almost as fine as grains of salt and are not very satisfying for a little girl to stick into the ground with her fingers. Besides, my garden was on the north side of the house, so got no sun; but Mother knew that nasturtiums are not too fussy and will grow just about anywhere.
The other thing about nasturtiums is that they are very Amazonian flowers, not like, say, petunias, which seem very Vintessian, or pansies, which have always been very popular in Trent. One could almost say that nasturtiums, if they were girls, look as if they well might wear clothing of woven cedar bark, like clear-eyed Cyrlinge here does, whereas a petunia or a pansy would never be caught dead wearing any part of a tree. Nasturtium leaves are like little water lilies in shape, and after a rain shower little spheres of rain water roll around on the leaves like drops of quicksilver. That doesn't happen with any other flower I know.
And nasturtium blossoms look Amazonian, they are not shy or retiring at all. And I can prove it, because one other thing I can do is take photographs of my flower babies, so now I will show you two lovely photos of my nasturtiums (they are from last year, but in a week or so I shall have this year's to cherish).
The first is a yellow nasturtium looking at the sun in the late afternoon. It appears as if she is receiving an important message,that blue ray right into the center of her blossom, but that is an optical accident, something called lens flare that happens sometimes when one shoots photos into the sun. But you can make believe she is somehow being informed or inspirited by the sun because, well, it looks that way.
The other is an eager white nasturtium of the ranks, her antennae all alert, waiting for her orders like a good Amazonian warrior.
Oh, I must stop writing and go outside to water all my babies. The sun has been shining all day, and they are expecting me.
What a fine place this is to wipe the dust of travel from one's feet - yes, and throat! That is a fine and generous custom, to offer a traveller a drink, and I thank you, pretty maid.
Now that my eyes are getting used to the dim light, I see that you have very many beautiful blondes here. Splendidly dressed, aren't they? Ah, see that one - her skirt flies up when she twirls! There, she did it again. I hope I do not offend you. I am a warrior, and I am told we have no manners beyond honour and courtesy.
Tell me, have you seen a very young blonde in a plain white dress? I am to meet her here, but I was delayed upon the road. Ah, I am glad to hear it. She is my charge, my responsibility; I must see her safe here and home again.
You are very perceptive. I admit it; she is more than that to me. Until now I have never understood how a strong, determined warrior could be stopped in her tracks by a wisp of a blonde; I have never understood the power of Love. Oh, Desire I know - and a fickle friend is Desire! I thought Love was the illusion of Desire. All that silly talk: "my sunshine, my rose blossom." But I begin to see, now, how it might happen. How someone could be like sunshine, or like a rose. How Desire might come from Love, like heat from the sunshine, or scent from a rose, as real as either. I could never expect her to love me; she is so pure, so soft. so beautiful - what would she want with a rough diamond like me?
Well, duty calls. I thank you again for the drink. When young Cyrlinge comes back from her marketing, please tell her I was here, and will be back.
All Hail the Empress!
Oh girls, it's just SOOOoo exciting, you'll never believe it.
My dear friend Miss Fox and I are going to a REAL Ball!!! And the dresses - Mine is nearly finshed and hers she found at the back of the wardrobe, but my, you should see it.
My dear sweet Miss Fox is wearing her glorious reddish-brown hair in a gold-fillet snood. Her Kadorian black velvet gown hugs her delightfully curved body, and the low-plunging neckline is set off beautifully by the three single diamonds on a fine fine gold chain. She has dusted off her fox-fur cape, and her pillbox hat is just sooooo elegant with its roll of fine veiling at the front.
But my dress - Dark blue satin overlaid with dark blue shot chiffon, rather Quirrie in design with close-fitting bodice flowing down and out to the floor, with chiffon pleated shoulder straps. And the most divine subtle sequins and stars and gold and silver beads on the satin under the chiffon, laid out in th current constellations, so that Scorpio is right at the front (as that is what is most prominent in our winter sky right now). My handbag even matches, and I'm going to put the southern cross on thatas the designs. But my goodness - the ball is on Saturday and I haven't even sewwn the hem yet! Eek. Well, just time for one drink then I must go back - and the gloves and the hairpiece - but I will be certain and bring a photograph for you. And yes, I did make it from a pattern but that was just for a simple dress with none of these sequins and Miss Fox says that I shouldn't under-rate myself and that I have done absolute wonders with it. So I am - very proud of myself and I KNOW I'm going to be a beautiful princess!!
Aussi, mon cher Cassica, puis-je t'achete un tasse de Champagne? Et dites-moi si tu as le cheveaux blonde ou brunette, s'il vous plait? (I hope I said that right!)
I have discovered your site today. I don't understand all. I am Cassica.
Ah, Elizabeth Ruth, how lovely to see you in here. What splendid creations have you made upon your magical sewing machines recently? I have been a lucky girl; this week I acquired a new fur cape. It is trentish and remarkably stylish. I also found a fur hat, which doesn't match the cape, as I think that the hat may be mink. It was bought for pennies! You can imagine that I am very pleased with my new bargain.
Oh, thank you, but I prefer to drink only water from Dea's own springs, if it can be got. It comes in a bottle? Well, that would be lovely, thank you very much.
About myself? Well, I am travelling as part of my study and apprenticeship in the arts of hospitality and diplomacy. Normally junior apprenctices such as myself do not travel so far, but I am accompanied by the Captain of the Guard of my village. I am to meet her here, in fact. Her name is Sade; she is very tall and lean and strong and her skin is the colour of oiled mahogany. Oh, she is marvellous to look at. She is a marvellous person, too. I feel very safe with her, and very lucky that she is with me. She is the most remarkable... excuse me, I do go on.
In love with her? That's what they ask me in the village, too. All I know is when I'm with her I'm happy and I don't really want to be anywhere else. And when she looks at me I feel beautiful, but that's silly, isn't it? Oh, it's warm in here. May I have some more cool water, please?
I think while I'm here I will have to get some new clothes. It's very kind of you to say my dress is charming, but it's just a linen tunic like we all wear at home. The belt is woven cedar bark; yes and the sandals, too.
Oh, I'm sorry, my name is hard to pronounce if you're not used to it.. Sur-LEENG-ah. That's right.
That's a very interesting dance, with the couples all wrapped around each other like that. Is it hard to do? Well thank you, yes, I'd like that very much.
But more than that I have missed the gossip. Daffodil, how are the wedding plans coming - or have they been consummated since we heard from you last? One is supposed to be able to tell the difference on the face of a newly knowledgeable and fulfilled bride, but it's so dark in here...
Terrie my dear, how are you getting along? The loss is not so fresh now, I know, but it takes a long time.
Amy, tell us about your garden - what do you grow there. Really, I just love hearing the names of flowers, it sounds like a prayer (larkspur, hollyhock, bergamot, iris, snapdragon, sweet pea, lobelia, rose... doesn't it sound lovely?)
Minerva, lovely to make your acquaintance. You look so lovely, flushed from your dance - may I have the next one after the band comes back?
Candida darling, I have been thinking of you. Come over to this little table here, and tell me how you're doing...
Dear Pettes All,
How lovely to finally have the old place back. Did anyone else miss it as much as I did? My brunette and I are busy this summer building more and more of a sanctuary from the Pit in our home and especially in our yard with high fences, lovely gardens, and now we're looking for a statue of Our Lady to place in a secret part of the garden, for prayer and sweet thoughts. Hope everyone else is enjoying a lovely summer.
I too have had my problems but hopefully it is all past now.Lots of new faces beckon you with smiles and rather unseemly brunetteish winks and glances.Hope you are up to all the modern concoctions such as Grasshoppers and Lady slippers. The dance floor has a very new appeal with lots of leggy youth and charming innocence.Nice to see the place back in operation.I can't wait to hear what the regular girls have to say after all this time.I missed you all,dears!! Whoops, swept up by a brunette,I guess I'll be on the dance floor for now.Never could resist a tiny dance don't you know? See you all in the cocktail bar!
Hello, everyone, just nodding in for a moment! Lovely to see you all back, I was missing everyone so much!
Must run now, the Bona Dea has called me to house-sit high on a windy hill,
I shall have wonderful stories to tell, but the ordinator does not work very well here.
Goddess bless one and all!
MARY MARGARETE, EMILYMILY ROSE, et al.
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