Some Quotes and Some Books

Alys, of Gardening Nirvana, set a gentle quotation challenge for me a couple weeks ago. It was three quotes in three days. She gave us some latitude, though, to do it as we wished, so I am doing it all at once. I have other favorite quotes, but these three came to mind for this little challenge.

If sunflowers were quotations...

If sunflowers were quotations…

The first is one close to my heart and comes from Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It. In its final and often quoted lines, Maclean summarizes the ethos of the book, describing how a particular act, performed in a particular place, can become the confluence of a lifetime of memory and experience. Here I am plagiarizing a previous blog, We All Have a River, but forthwith, the quote, which begins by talking about starting to fly fish alone in the evening:

“Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

“I am haunted by waters.”

Not the Big Blackfoot...

If you haven’t read Maclean, I recommend him; either River or Young Men and Fire. There is, of course, a film of River, which does a miraculous job of following a single thread of the memoir while giving an impression of the whole, but if you like beautiful language, give the book a try.

The next quote is one that stopped me when I first read it, as it gave words to a way I often feel just walking down the street. It is from Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson:  “Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see.”

So much beauty, in all it's ordinariness, just wiring to be noticed...

So much beauty, in all it’s ordinariness, just waiting to be noticed…

From Dumbarton Oaks' Cloud Terrace

From Dumbarton Oaks’ Cloud Terrace, more beauty…

I recommend Gilead as well, but it has gotten mixed reviews from those who took me up on the recommendation. You might also try her classic book Housekeeping.

Finally, for the gardeners among us, a cautionary quote about talking too much about vegetables, that comes from Gail Godwin’s Evenings at Five:  “An outstanding cabbage…would be a welcome addition to this gathering.”  Honestly, I’ve been at parties where someone could have said something like this…

The basil patch this week.

The basil patch this morning.

We had no cabbages in the garden this week, but took lots of tomatoes and zucchini to the farm market. I brought home basil, tomatoes, and okra from my own garden, and am urging the eggplants to grow faster.

Finally, some tomatoes!

Finally, some tomatoes!

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31 Responses to Some Quotes and Some Books

  1. Great quotations… And I knew of Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks but I never knew it was a real place! I always thought it was simply a piece of music!


  2. Fine quotations…memorability is key, I think, so the outstanding cabbage at the party is my favorite. I’ve definitely been to some of those parties. “Evenings at Five” reminds me of another quotation enjoyed by Happy Hour aficionados: “It’s always five o’clock somewhere!”


    • arlingwoman says:

      Yes, the book is about drinking and grieving and the cabbage quote was hilarious in context (people discussing the co-op’s vegetables ad nauseum) and illustrative of a character who is only remembered in the narrative. Glad you liked it. I hope all parties you are at are so stimulating, you aren’t tempted to use it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful words that awaken the sleeping soul ……. I adore Norman Maclean! I hadn’t heard the cabbage quote before – it’s clever and made me smile! And Dumbarton Oaks – I keep meaning to say to you that I had forgotten all about it while we were traipsing around DC looking at monuments ……… It has to be a ‘for sure’ next time, ok? 🙂 [Just planting the dreaming seeds!]

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Delightful, thoughtful post, Lisa. It’s a tricky thing recommending books and movies, isn’t it. What might resonate with one person, leaves the other cold. I recommended a book that I loved several years ago to a few friends, and again, mixed reviews. I think it helps when you know the reader’s preferences. Then you are more likely to find a fit.

    I must add a River Runs Through It to my reading list. Thanks for quoting along. Lots of fun.


  5. I like the Gilead quote, and the tomatoes


  6. KerryCan says:

    Such an intelligent, thoughtful post, and beautifully illustrated with just the right photos!


  7. 10,000 Swarovski elements?? Oh, good heavens. I’ve got about 7. I wonder if I could make a tiny ‘cloud wisp’ with mine. 😛
    I love the quotes–all three of them. I think they show the depth and breadth of where your thoughts reside, Lisa: the natural, the philosophical and the charmingly absurd.
    I’m kinda leaning on the cabbage one though.
    Lovely post!


  8. Eliza Waters says:

    Great and thoughtful quotes. We’ve been having fresh tomatoes topped with chopped basil this week – summer doesn’t get any better than that! 🙂


  9. What a delightful post!! I say amen to all, including the cabbage. You and I are kindred spirits in reading and Gilead is one the most beautiful books on my list!!! Thank you yet again of sharing your world of wonderful thoughts, beautiful books, gorgeous photos and excellent veggies!


  10. Robbie says:

    I agree with above, perfectly synchronized quotes with lovely photos…..I am eating fresh pesto right now-to me that is summer!


  11. Boomdeeadda says:

    Hi Lisa,while reading your quotes I thought, “Wow, that Lisa, she’s so worldly and smart”. I’m always impressed by your knowledge about so many topics. I felt a kinship to the your second quote. The bird on the tippy top of the Sunflowers is adorable. I think it’d be beautiful in watercolours. Hey! Did you know there was a Tomato festival in Italy yesterday?

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      You’re so flattering, Boomdee! The second quote is my favorite as well. I do love that picture with the sunflowers and finch. It WOULD make a good watercolor–do you paint, among your many artistic talents? If so, feel free to appropriate the picture. Oooh, a tomato festival would be so much fun. I did not know about it. Think of the food and the tomato displays. Wait! isn’t there one where people throw tomatoes at each other? Now that I would only want to watch from a safe distance…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Boomdeeadda says:

        Goodie, good morning mon ami 😀 I do like to dabble with water colours and took some classes. It’s one of those efforts that require practice and patients and lately I’m too short on time to incorporate even one more crafty endeavour in my crazy schedule. When I say ‘schedule’, it’s not a calendar with neat little entries penciled in, since every day is just by the seat of my pants, LOL. Thank you for your offer to use your photo though, one never knows when I’ll be inspired to do so ox K

        Liked by 1 person

  12. reocochran says:

    I agree with your saying the film, A River Runs Through It,” was excellent in its encapsulating the themes and gist of the book. Sibling rivalry, faith and prejudice of Native Americans all come into play. The waters are usually calming in amidst a lonely and sad feeling throughout. Tom Skerritt, Brad Pitt looking like Robert Redford (directed this film) This quote is poignant and haunting. Growing up on Lake Erie, this would be my favorite, Lisa.
    The “outstanding cabbage” one indicates the party needs “livened up” and the world as transfiguration by using our vision are awesome, too.


    • arlingwoman says:

      River is one of only two films of books that I have liked–The other was the English Patient. In both cases, the stories were so layered, I did not know how a movie could be made. In both cases, the film makers took a single thread of the story and followed it through. And yes, I thought Brad Pitt looked like a young Redford in that movie! Thanks for visiting!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. jennypellett says:

    I love these little challenges. Your quotes are good ones … I think I’m going to have a go at this myself, having just declared that the last challenge I did (badly) left me stressed😀


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