October 26, 2014

Favorite Quotes #6 - It's The Little Things

I've been caught up in a book by Elizabeth Goudge called "The Bird in the Tree".

It's a rather slow moving story - one that in the book group we had with homeschooling teens and their parents would have elicited the oft-heard comment, "But nothing happened."  So far, and I'm a third of the way into it, it's much more of a character study with lovely, lovely poetic descriptions of Nature and Life.  And I always love a good tale told in poetic language.

Here are a few noteworthy quotes, about art, and therefore about Life ......

This is a childhood memory of one of the characters grew up to become an actor.
"He had sobbed for an hour, sobbed himself sick and exhausted until at last, childlike, he had forgotten what it was he was crying about and had become instead absorbed in the moonlight on the floor.  It had been like a pool of silver, enclosed and divided up into neat squares by the bars of the window.  ......  In some vague way he had understood that dark things are necessary; without them the silver moonlight would just stream away into nothingness, but with them it can be held and arranged into beautiful squares."

I once saw this very thing at work in a quilt:
A friend of mine was repairing a 1930s Amish bow tie quilt, readying it to hang in a bedroom.  About ten of the bow ties had been made out of an apparently weaker fabric and were in pretty bad shape.  These bow ties were black, but since all the rest were nice pastels that matched her decor, she decided to replace them with a pastel.  She auditioned lots of different colors, testing them out by cutting the pieces and laying them over the black bow ties.  Nothing worked - the quilt was just blah without the black.  Losing that darkness and depth took away all the excitement and punch.  The black had truly enlivened all the pastels.  Sure enough, that quilt maker had known what she was doing.  Maybe she didn't consciously know she was including the dark bits of Life - but maybe she did.

by Ann Wasserman
69" x 33"
From the same character.
"Life, to him, was the fearless facing of reality and art was its illumination.  It is the business of an artist, he thought, to show how the truth, even an apparently ugly truth, can be transformed by fearless acceptance into a thing of beauty.  Living this acceptance it is hard to realize the beauty; watching it objectively we see and understand."

From the family matriarch.
"She tried very hard to teach her grandchildren how to extract the last drop of beauty out of all the small things of life, words and scents and sounds.  Many little joys, weighed against the few heavy griefs of existence, could give some sort of balance to the scales and preserve the sanity of life."

by Ann Wasserman
39" x 19 1/2"


  1. I love the birds and trees in your first photo. I also love Elizabeth Goudge. I think she was such an observant author about some of the truths of life and she wrote them in such beautiful language. I believe The Bird in the Tree is part of a series about the Eliots and Damrosehay. Have your read The Little White Horse? Or better yet, have you listened to it on tape or CD? It's a children's fantasy with a lively story and enchanting characters. Her descriptions of food make my mouth water.

    1. Yes, "The Bird in the Tree" is the first of a trilogy. I did learn a lot about Life from this book, and am about ready for the next one. I'll take your recommendation and try the children's book, too. Yes, her language is marvelous! I looked up the pronunciation of Damrosehay, and no one seems to know exactly how to say it! I visited your blogs, and had a fun time. I like the color palette of your quilts very much. Thanks for writing.

    2. I always say it Dam-rose-hay but then I've always wondered if that was what she intended or not. Thanks for visiting my blogs and for your kind words about my colors It's not until a quilt is finished that I'm sure the colors work (or not). I hope you continue to enjoy Elizabeth Goudge's books.