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.
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.”
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.”
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…
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.