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Flowers and Showers
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Flowers and Showers

By 49thShelf
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tagged: flowers, spring
Flowers and showers go together! Perfect books for reading in April—or May?
Flower can Always be Changing, The

Flower can Always be Changing, The

edition:Paperback

"A lamp and a flower pot in the center. The flower can always be changing."--Virginia Woolf. From the bestselling author of Rumi and the Red Handbag comes a new collection of brief essays about the intersection of poetry, painting, photography and beauty. Inspired by the words of Virginia Woolf, Lemay welcomes you into her home, her art and her life as a poet and photographer of the every day. Lemay shares visits to the museum with her daughter, the beauty in an average workday at the library, a …

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The Flower Can Always Be Changing

 

The bonsai, now. Purchased years ago from the hardware store. A wish, a pretension, a desire for peacefulness, with an envious thought to the serious practitioners, precipitated its purchase.

Relegated to the basement when it sensed I was not living up to its requirements for emptiness, calm, and a true tenderness. It became too lush and I could not be severe in bringing it back to balance. Years later, it re-emerges. Parts of it have died, irretrievable. Unbalanced but splendid and we understand the elegance of each other's broken loneliness.

At the stage where she was dreaming, conjuring, The Waves, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary, "A lamp and a flower pot in the center. The flower can always be changing." There would be, "...a perpetual crumbling and renewing of the plant. In its leaves she might see things happen. But who is she?"

Quickly followed by the wish she remain unnamed. The leaves would most certainly see things happen.

I forge a plan that I quickly abandon, to ask women I know about the plants they have on their windowsills, kitchen tables, desks. I imagine receiving answers about geraniums being overwintered, about African violets, and about bouquets of grocery store tulips and about long stemmed, candy-coloured daisies, and roses that deliberately open. Once, someone told me about the aloe vera plant she has on her desk that has vast properties of healing and with which she conducts séances and hearing this made me too delicate.

We breathe the plant in and the plant receives our exhalations and our chakras align accordingly.

Of course, with Clarice Lispector, I've been thinking about the sadness of flowers in order to feel more fully the order of what exists for a very long time.

As Cixous said, we have all lived one or two flowers. We have felt the light of them, the light they attract and which goes right through them, and also the heaviness, the gravity, and we have known, perhaps, as the painter Francis Bacon called it, the violence of roses. Not just the thorns, but the colours changing and bleeding and seeping out of those generous, soft, petals. The way our souls might rise up and speak to flowers, met by flowers, their breathing, the faint breath of them. The pain of finding we can't quite sip, can't quite internalize the answers, to the question of scent.

I imagine the pots and vases of flowers on a table near a window in time lapse photography, one that encompasses several years. The first day emerges deliberately. In a veil of morning light, I place a vase of garden roses on the weathered table. The pink-orange petals are so various, each one a slightly different combination of pink fluttering into orange. They have opened under the sun, have been changed by breezes gentle and ardent and arduous. Insects have nibbled and continued on their way. And now the light becomes more diffuse, evens out, brightens, declines again, and then moonlight comes in and bathes the roses, they soften and at the same time become more radiant, full. The leaves droop a little, curl, the water clouds, the edges of the petals wither, turn a greyish brown, and the pinks become less vibrant, and the orange deepens, lessens. They begin to look tattered in the repetition of this cycle, more graceful, more noble. At one point a hand comes into the frame, and shoves the vase from the center of the table to the edge, to the far end.

In this way we come to know the unrepeatable secrets of flowers, and then to forget them. We learn opening, opening. And then empty, drunk, we succumb to their heavenly sadness. It is the sadness of flowers that reminds us to keep the secret.

The table is empty for several days. The time lapse speeds up. A geranium arrives in a terracotta pot. The stems are thick and gnarled. The plant has lived and lives on in the slips that have been taken. It grows, leaning toward the light through the day, a slow dance. And then the cuttings are removed, and it must grow more leaves, and it does, small sprouts emerge. At which point someone takes it to make room for a gift, a vase of flowers. A ghostly image enters the frame and leaves, which reminds one of security camera footage.

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Things to Do When It's Raining

Things to Do When It's Raining

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?—from The Globe and Mail–bestselling author Marissa Stapley.

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lily and George. A childhood friendship quickly develope …

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Specimen

Specimen

Stories
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Winner, 2016 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Fiction

Finalist, 2016 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize

The stories in Specimen are a unique exploration of science and the human heart; the place where physical reality collides with our spiritual and emotional lives.

In “The Blood Keeper,” a young academic travels to North Korea to work on her dissertation and embarks on a dangerous affair. In “Mamochka,” which was nominated for the 2012 Journey Prize, an archivist at the Institute for Physics in Min …

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One Hundred Days of Rain

One Hundred Days of Rain

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Did she say, at the beginning, that it rained every day? She was wrong. She misspoke. She didn't mean it.... No. It did not rain every day. But it rained for a hundred days, that year, which was enough--more than enough, even.

In prose by turn haunting and crystalline, Carellin Brooks' One Hundred Days of Rain enumerates an unnamed narrator's encounters with that most quotidian of subjects: rain. Mourning her recent disastrous breakup, the narrator must rebuild a life from the bottom up. As she w …

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Bloom

Bloom

A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli
by Kyo Maclear
illustrated by Julie Morstad
edition:Hardcover

A dazzling first-person picture book biography of the life of iconic fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli by the award-winning team who created Julia, Child.

Here is the life of iconic fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who as a little girl in Rome, was told by her own mamma that she was brutta. Ugly. So she decided to seek out beauty around her, and found it everywhere. What is beauty? Elsa wondered. She looked everywhere for beauty until something inside of Elsa blossomed, and she became an arti …

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Under the Umbrella

Under the Umbrella

by Catherine Buquet
translated by Erin Woods
illustrated by Marion Arbona
edition:Hardcover

The weather has never been worse. The man with the stormy heart is soaked and he's going to be late! His mood is as black as the sky. Outside a nearby patisserie, a little boy stands under the shelter of its awning, gazing at the beautiful treats on display. When the wind snatches the man's umbrella and drops it at the child's feet, can this hasty curmudgeon slow down long enough for an unlikely friendship to blossom?

Catherine Buquet's touching debut in lyrical rhyme, accompanied by Marion Arbon …

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Hunting Houses

Hunting Houses

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Tessa is a thirty-seven-year-old real estate agent living in Montreal. She adores her husband and three young sons, but she’s deeply unhappy and questioning the set of choices that have led to her present life.

After a surprising run-in with Francis, her ex-boyfriend and first love, Tessa arranges to see him. During the three days before their meeting, she goes about her daily life — there’s swimming lessons, science projects, and dirty dishes. As the day of her meeting with Francis draws c …

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Excerpt

Évelyne is crying in earnest now. I take her hand. I say yes, her house is fabulous. I myself would buy it if I could. It will make some family very happy just as hers was for several years.

My client nods, I know she finds the idea comforting — all my clients do. There must be some solace in thinking your house will go on living apart from you, like an extension, a promise renewed no matter the hardships or failures, bestowing sudden meaning on sorrow. Personally, it's all a mystery to me since I have no desire to see others blossom where I once withered away — but then I'm not a very nice person.

Évelyne shows me the rest of her house: two children's bedrooms. In the first room, a cream-coloured quilt in a delicate pattern of pink and pale-green buttercups and peonies. A number of lively drawings on the walls, all signed SOLENE. In the second bedroom, blue and green stripes, dinosaur figurines, wood letters painted red hanging on the door: MATTEO. Évelyne was astute enough to keep the walls white. It won't be as difficult for potential buyers to project their own lives onto them — nothing is less helpful than a pink bedroom covered in princess decals for the morale of a mother with two sons who longs for the daughter she never had and hopes to find in her new abode the secret formula that will at last guarantee her the perfect family she's dreamt of since childhood. I respond to the client with all the solicitude I can muster, Who knows, this house could be a lucky charm, but when, guilt-ridden at having downplayed the worth of the children she does have, she grabs hold of my arm, My boys are wonderful, I love them so much, after all, what counts is that they're healthy, no? Do you have children? and I answer, Yes, three boys, for the space of a second, she's caught between wanting to be me and relief that she isn't. Her coral lips give the faintest, saddest smile ever smiled and she murmurs: Three boys. That's quite something, isn't it.

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Some Things I've Lost

Some Things I've Lost

edition:Hardcover

A wallet, a set of keys, a pair of glasses — these are some of the household objects that disappear and are fantastically reconstituted in Cybèle Young’s inventive new picture book. Minimal text conveys the magic of a world where even inanimate objects are constantly undergoing a process of growth, transformation and change.

An introduction describing the frustration we feel when we lose something is followed by a catalogue of misplaced objects. Each item is shown first in its original form …

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