• Gracie Carmichael

Seasonal Stories and Signs of Spring

Dear friend,

Depending on what part of the world you are in as this post finds you, you might be stumbling through snow-drifts and wondering when the spring will ever dawn, or you may be very far and separated by many waters, basking in the fruits of a long, slow summer before harvest time in the Southern Hemisphere. As for me, writing to you from the upper Midwest of the United States, we've entered the very cusp of spring at long last—for Aslan seem to have finally shaken his wonderful mane, and so we shall have spring again—as the beloved and fondly-remembered Narnia rhyme reminds us.

"Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more;

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again."

In my area, March is considered the snowiest month, and the long, slow winter often doesn't relent until April comes. My heart light and my soul is singing to find that this year, spring is paying us an early visit. Already I am delighting in forming my plans for the season, and spinning a few daydreams.

One of my favorite things to plan for with every change of the seasons is my reading list—and as a mood reader who is greatly influenced by the time of year, I like to keep my dark, brooding Brontës in the winter, and pull out my light, soulful Alcotts and L.M. Montgomery's when the spring comes. Perhaps to some readers it would sound silly that I absolutely cannot wait to reread L.M. Montgomery's Pat of Silver Bush this June, when I could just pull it off my shelf now if I wanted to—but I find so much joy in the anticipation of seasonal reading that I wouldn't miss the chance of reading Pat when the lilacs are in blossom and the lilies are beginning to pop. "Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them," to quote Miss Anne.

There's a definite, concrete je ne sais quoi about past memories associated with books, films, or series for me. I tend to become very loyal to the memories I establish (particularly when they're good!) and honor them whenever I revisit them. It'll always have to be Emily of New Moon at Christmas, Jane Eyre in the fall, Emma in the summer... I'm very fond of revisiting, and as such, I've set up my spring reading list with several re-reads in mind, with, of course, a few new reads to scratch off the endless T-B-R. Here are some of my picks...

  1. The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

  2. The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery

  3. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

  4. Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery

  5. Persuasion by Jane Austen

  6. The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

  7. Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

  8. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  9. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

  10. Books 9-12 of the Poldark saga by Winston Graham

I think, as readers, we tend to get very absorbed in the unconquerable to-be-read list and the constant desire to read new books—but truth be told, every year when I look back at my reading log, I notice that more than half of the books I've read are rereads. I become so attached to stories and the seasons in which I first read them, and re-capturing that joy when I revisit them is something that never fades. I adore rereads, and I think I tend to be more wary, actually, of reading anything outside of my circle of tried-and-true authors.

L.M. Montgomery, for example, is an author who has grown so dear to me and whose books I have never failed to give a five-star review. In fact, I think I've read more of her works than I have any other author. Instead of branching out to other authors after I first completed the Anne books, I went into her other novels, series and stand-alones, many of which I now love just as much—if not more!—than Anne Shirley herself. Why stop at The Chronicles of Narnia when you can discover Lewis's Space Trilogy—or stop at Little Women when you could fall in love An Old-Fashioned Girl? I think we pester ourselves so much to try the next new release, or follow a new recommendation off Goodreads...when all the time we've wasted on stories left half-finished could have been spent on beautiful gems written by authors whose writing we've already fallen in love with.

Books are not the only thing I'm beginning to plan for the new season! I find that the older I get, the more strongly the desire comes over me to embrace the bygone ages so dear to my heart, and cherish the idea of working with my hands, donning flow-y, flowery dresses, and spending more time in nature, rambling between violet-encrusted paths or lakeside benches, daring to keep my phone somewhere silent and hidden away. It's no secret (well, to me it isn't) that Montgomery's heroines on Prince Edward Island knew quite a good deal more about having a good time than we do today.

In February I read Anne of Avonlea for the third time (I'm constantly rereading Anne...and after finishing a reread of Rilla of Ingleside last summer, I have yet again started over!) and I have to admit, I think I enjoyed it better than ever. Miss Lavendar Lewis has always moved me with her girlish sweetness and indulgent daydreams...and somehow now that I've returned to her, I've found that's she's dearer to me than ever before. I couldn't escape the end of the book without first reflecting to myself why I admire her and her child-fancies stemmed into womanhood...and as such, I'm determined to add a little of Miss Lavendar's spirit into my life this spring.

For one thing, I'm determined to host a tea-party. I've always wanted to learn to have tea "the English way," with scones and clotted cream, little sandwiches, and milk and sugar in dainty little cups and saucers... Miss Lavendar and Charlotta the Fourth would have tea parties together all the time, and make up a good deal of scrumptious food and pretend they were having lots of company over, and ended up eating all of the wonderful treats themselves. I'm convinced they two knew how to have fun, if nobody else did! As such, I shall learn to host that tea party, and if nobody else can join me but but my own dear mum, I won't feel the slightest bit ashamed of imagining up tons of sparkling guests just as Miss Lavendar and Charlotta would.

I think it's high time we stop feeling ashamed about the dear, pretty, childhood daydreams that we carry with us through adulthood. If you've ever wanted to have tea with a kindred spirit and eat lovely sweet things, and if you, like me, are over the age of twenty and thus feel like it's a dream to keep quiet, I'd like you to know that your dreams are rather more beautiful and sacred than those bleak, soulless aspirations which many enter adulthood with. I, for one, would much rather join you for tea and chat over our favorite stories than I would going to a noisy, stuffy, unpleasant event or party surrounded by throngs of people who haven't a single notion of what it means to be of the Race that knows Joseph.

All that said, I am wishing you the most joyous spring, and I hope you will try to nurture the sweet-souled daydreams you've carried with you from any age, and indulge yourself with the fulfillment of them this season. As always, I would love to hear from you if you fancy leaving a comment below and telling me whatever floats your fancy about the coming spring, or of course, sending me a direct "telegram express" over on the 'About' page. :)

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Until next time,