Elizabeth & Her German Garden HTML version
Elizabeth and her German Garden
May 7th.--I love my garden. I am writing in it now in the late afternoon loveliness, much
interrupted by the mosquitoes and the temptation to look at all the glories of the new
green leaves washed half an hour ago in a cold shower. Two owls are perched near me,
and are carrying on a long conversation that I enjoy as much as any warbling of
nightingales. The gentleman owl says [[musical notes occur here in the printed text]], and
she answers from her tree a little way off, [[musical notes]], beautifully assenting to and
completing her lord's remark, as becomes a properly constructed German she-owl. They
say the same thing over and over again so emphatically that I think it must be something
nasty about me; but I shall not let myself be frightened away by the sarcasm of owls.
This is less a garden than a wilderness. No one has lived in the house, much less in the
garden, for twenty-five years, and it is such a pretty old place that the people who might
have lived here and did not, deliberately preferring the horrors of a flat in a town, must
have belonged to that vast number of eyeless and earless persons of whom the world
seems chiefly composed. Noseless too, though it does not sound pretty; but the greater
part of my spring happiness is due to the scent of the wet earth and young leaves.
I am always happy (out of doors be it understood, for indoors there are servants and
furniture) but in quite different ways, and my spring happiness bears no resemblance to
my summer or autumn happiness, though it is not more intense, and there were days last
winter when I danced for sheer joy out in my frost-bound garden, in spite of my years and
children. But I did it behind a bush, having a due regard for the decencies.
There are so many bird-cherries round me, great trees with branches sweeping the grass,
and they are so wreathed just now with white blossoms and tenderest green that the
garden looks like a wedding. I never saw such masses of them; they seemed to fill the
place. Even across a little stream that bounds the garden on the east, and right in the
middle of the cornfield beyond, there is an immense one, a picture of grace and glory
against the cold blue of the spring sky.
My garden is surrounded by cornfields and meadows, and beyond are great stretches of
sandy heath and pine forests, and where the forests leave off the bare heath begins again;
but the forests are beautiful in their lofty, pink-stemmed vastness, far overhead the
crowns of softest gray-green, and underfoot a bright green wortleberry carpet, and
everywhere the breathless silence; and the bare heaths are beautiful too, for one can see
across them into eternity almost, and to go out on to them with one's face towards the
setting sun is like going into the very presence of God.
In the middle of this plain is the oasis of birdcherries and greenery where I spend my
happy days, and in the middle of the oasis is the gray stone house with many gables
where I pass my reluctant nights. The house is very old, and has been added to at various
times. It was a convent before the Thirty Years' War, and the vaulted chapel, with its
brick floor worn by pious peasant knees, is now used as a hall. Gustavus Adolphus and