Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Every Now and Then, the Bluebells Wait for You

Every Now and Then, the Bluebells Wait for You
Like most people of romantic bent, I fell headlong in love with the Merchant Ivory film interpretation of E. M. Forster’s wonderful novel, Howards End, the first time I saw it.  Every frame, whether verdant or urban, enchanted me. Vanessa Redgrave’s long white gown trailing through the evening dew in the opening scene.  The charming rooms of the Schlegel sisters' home in Wickham Place.  Poor Leonard Bast, influenced by George Meredith’s Richard Peverel, walking all night through a Spring carpet of bluebells stretched out on a forest floor, a forest that “drooped glimmeringly”.  As a child of the American South, my Springtime carpets have always been green.  The limes of new moss; the emeralds of clover.  Seeing a shady forest blanketed in blue was something straight out of fairy tale to my mind.  Could it be real? I could not empirically say.  
Though prevalent in an English spring, bluebells are early bloomers and as my plane followed the moon across the Atlantic in the middle of May, I had no hope of seeing them.  They would have already flamed and gone, remaining but one more of those memories of imagination not unlike Scrooge’s door knocker or the celestial pathway to Neverland, just a wonderful snippet that sits in one’s mind and often seems more tangible that fact.  
But my journey by plane, tube, train and car led me to a magical place.  Through a diamond shaped window in my charming bedroom, I could see an Elizabethan tower presiding over a legendary garden, a garden in which the footsteps of literary giants once pressed the grasses and climbed the tower to a room full of books and ideas.  The wind beat the windows as I slept that night, blowing any remnant of the commonplace away like the ashes of a cooled fire.  I awoke to the beckoning call of the garden, dressed quickly and headed out under a sky full of rolling clouds..
All morning long I wandered through rooms of green, along great swathes of yellow and lime.  I entered a walled garden of bridal gown white, emperor tulips nodding in the wind.  I was lost in daydream when, out of the corner of my eye, just beyond the garden wall, I spied a pathway.  Prone as I am to drift apart from the others, to duck under fences and wander away, naturally I followed it.  A grey farm dog ran past me, looking over his shoulder as he went as if to say, 
“This way.  Come this way.”  
The birds sang a lyrical welcome as I went.  Crossing meadows and rounding past ponds, I followed magpies over wooden bridges that lay like cupped hands cross rippling streams.  I strolled past the lambs of a new season and ducked under willows only recently dressed in ball gowns of green till, suddenly, tall trees closed in around me and everywhere, everywhere, I looked was blue.  It was just as I imagined, just as I dreamed.  Bluebells.  In every corner of the forest, waving in the wind a greeting of memory, imaginary and real, ancient and new.  I stood, transfixed, and laughed.
“It’s been a late Spring here”, my innkeeper told me later.  “We thought they’d never bloom.  It’s lucky for you that you came when you did.  Any earlier and I’m afraid you would’ve been disappointed”.
Sometimes the sights we dream of seeing are just outside our reach.  On the banks of a country river, we look round for Ratty and Mole, but find they’ve sailed round the bend just before we arrived.  If indeed Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane exists in a London borough, I have no confidence we’d find Mary Poppins minding the children inside if we knocked on the door, even if the wind was blowing in from the East.  But I’ve found it best not to give up hope, for every now and then the seasons and stories combine and conspire to surprise.  Every now and then, the bluebells wait for you.

I stayed here and it was wonderful!


  1. Beautiful! Your words always cast an enchanting spell over me!

  2. Your words are inspiring me to watch Howard's End again. Bluebells carpeting a forest floor, that is breathtaking.

  3. Pamela so long since I have seen Howards End. Then to have stayed at the Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse, what a treasure trove of adventures!

    Art by Karena

  4. We were so worried that the incessant rain that's been sweeping across Europe all year would cast a pall over your trip. Looks like you were well prepared and we needn't have been concerned ?

  5. You chose a wonderful place to stay Pamela ..... my sister lives in West Sussex so, we are quite familiar with the area. I, too, am sorry that the weather was typically British for you { the last two days have been glorious but tomorrow we have rain forcast for the rest of the week !!} I hope that we will be treated to more glimpses of your English holiday...... you always choose such beautiful places to visit and often places that I have never been, even though I've lived here all of my life !! XXXX

  6. Vita Sackville West is my favourite gardener of all time. Lucky you.

  7. The bluebells are a favorite of mine and I have a few my mother planted..I'm wondering if you saw any of the blood red heuchera, or dark red coral bells? A field of them would be a delight as well....I'm so glad you don't give up hope..for the now and then surprises ;)

  8. Pamela,
    As I sit here listening to beautiful choral music by Morton Lauridson, your story made me happy...kind of the perfect combination of music, your words and a cool, spring breeze blowing through the window. I love bluebells and what a wonderful sight to see a field of them.

  9. As I read your comments Sissinghurst sprang to mind not realising that you actually were there. When we visited 20yrs ago, Vita and Harolds son was still in residence. What a joy to be able to now stay in the farmhouse. We worshiped in the Sissinghurst Church that Sunday morning and meet a woman who was a volunteer at Sissinghurst and invited us back to her home for afternoon tea. What a great memory. Rosalie from Australia

  10. Pamela, I hope you enjoy your magical journey. I am sure that wherever your trip takes you that you will find magic.

    Be safe, Elizabeth

  11. Blue Belle,

    You are my Enchanted friend!
    I, selfishly, hope always, a bit rubs off on me.....
    And, most Luckily, it usually does!

    Wether by a magic green vehicle,
    a fuzzy dog of love,
    a writer who frets over my vehicular mode of meaning,
    or just you and all that is YOU!

    I am Blessed,
    and I'm off to Amazon and HEnd for a catch up......
    and hope we get one soon!


  12. I've always been enchanted by Howard's End, too. So glad your visit to England was magical. Looking forward to hearing more. I'm hoping to grow Virginia bluebells in our mountain wood, but it would only be a small patch if they take. This past week we've been enchanted by the pink Lady's slippers in bloom, dancing in little pockets of dappled shade amongst the rhododendron. Last year there were none, having been blighted by a late frost, so they were even more special this year.

  13. Such a lovely post! Your writing always brings a smile to my face and warmth to my happy to be connected!

  14. Also my favorite version of Howard's End with Vanessa Redgrave, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter. The bluebells were there to tell you what you've already known...anything and everything is possible...:)

  15. Oh I am so happy you got to see the bluebells! I hope you had a wonderful time and can't wait to hear more about it!
    xx Sunday

  16. I also loved that movie. You describe it so well. I was thinking of planting some bluebells in the woods
    down by the cove. Beautiful post.


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  18. I'm so happy that they did Pamela... :)

  19. So that is why they were so late this year, they were waiting for you! If you are very quick you could walk with Ted and I over on my bluebell blog post. x

  20. I think I shall have to revisit Howard's End this summer. You have transported me, with your words. I could literally see myself there. Lovely.

  21. Now I want to reread and rewatch Howards End and take a trip to the UK. I need to stay at that B&B! Lucky you.

  22. how lovely! Bluebells are beautiful! We were lucky with our holiday in the weat of Scotland this year, normally we would have been too late for the bluebells but we actually found all the woods full of the most amazing displays!


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