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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Have You Read? #18

One notable difference between Brattleboro and home is the way folks use their yards. There, almost every yard space is used for beauty and productivity. Flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, and vegetables flourish. Here, yards are grassy with trees dotting the spaces (still lovely), and flowers and vegetables grow in pots or plots. In one Brattleboro park, however, grassy space spanned the entirety, and trees enclosed it. A lone mulberry tree in one corner yielded berries of various ripeness, the dark ones sweet and juicy. No one else seemed to know about it, so I was the single picker early one morning, filling a jar and purpling my fingers, to bring fruit back to my friends for a breakfast treat.

As I finished Joanne Rocklin's One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street, I wondered what that mulberry tree has witnessed. The orange tree in the novel speaks to readers in its own chapter, telling about how Valencia orange trees came to the neighborhood, how it became the lone tree on the block, and providing a list of all the things that have occurred underneath and within its branches. The children and adults on Orange Street share their words and thoughts as well. Three girls form the Girls With Long Hair Club (which potentially changes names due to changing circumstances), one boy desperately seeks to perfect a magic trick and attract the attention of a girl, a baby brother struggles to find joy and speech after a traumatic brain surgery, an elderly resident searches for her memories among the people and events of the present, a long-ago resident returns to remember - and sketches the tree and folks underneath it, and their stories are all told along with the house/lot numbers of Orange Street.

Add to their narration Ethel Finneymaker's recipe for ambrosia, the rescue of a baby hummingbird, a creative set of grandparents, the need to look up words in Ethel's print copy of the OED, and historical references to important events. It all adds up to an infrangible (a word Ethel uses) tale! In her memoir, Ethel says, "The street I lived on was like a book of stories, all different, but bound together." I like to think my street, the people familiar to me, the yard, and the trees are like that as well.

4 comments:

  1. Intrigued by the One Morning. . . book and by the mulberries (I thought they were blackberries). . .thanks for this post!

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  2. I'll be heading out very soon to gather more and hope I'm not too late. We are so grateful for the jar full you brought to us. They are all in Mr. Brattcat's belly now after dancing in maple syrup on his waffle each morning.
    In a way, all those we touch and who touch us create an enormous neighborhood, global. And the true proximity to consider is measured by occupancy in our hearts.

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  3. I agree with brattcat - all those we connect with create our own neighborhood, no matter the distance, and you've created a neighborhood of your own with your blog, Library Jewel. I feel as if I've gotten to know brattcat and your other regular commenters just through their posts. And I've gotten to know YOU much better, even though I'm fortunate enough to see you in person every month or so.

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  4. When you visit Brattcat, Sharon, you should take a walk to this tree. I also loved the connection with the mulberry leaves and Linda Sue Park's PROJECT MULBERRY.

    I debated, Brattcat, between using this photo and the one of Mr. Brattcat's mulberry-topped waffle.

    I love the connections, David, and I can't believe I waited so long to delve into the blogging world. What fun it is to communicate and see lives in different ways.

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