Nathaniel Hawthorne and I have a moment


“I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a row of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.”

~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Old Manse,” Mosses from an Old Manse

I read my first Nathaniel Hawthorne book when I was 15 and thought his books were creepy and boring, and he, as their creator, was a creepy, boring old guy from stuffy New England. When I read this quote above, then I knew that he understood. Yes, though born over two hundred years ago, Nathaniel Hawthorne and I shared a moment, and I knew that he knew what it was to stand and be amazed by a row of peas or beans pushing up earth so they can kiss the sun. Maybe he wasn’t so creepy after all, and maybe I should give his books another look.

Pumpkin seedling

Pumpkin seedling

I leave you with the rest of the paragraph from “The Old Manse.”

Later in the season, the humming-birds were attracted by the blossoms of a peculiar variety of bean; and they were a joy to me, those little spiritual visitants, for deigning to sip airy food out of my nectar-cups. Multitudes of bees used to bury themselves in the yellow blossoms of the summer-squashes. This, too, was a deep satisfaction; although, when they had laden themselves with sweets, they flew away to some unknown hive, which would give back nothing in requital of what my garden had contributed. But I was glad thus to fling a benefaction upon the passing breeze, with the certainty that somebody must profit by it, and that there would be a little more honey in the world, to allay the sourness and bitterness which mankind is always complaining of. Yes, indeed; my life was the sweeter for that honey.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a true gardener. He knew.


2 responses »

  1. ADORABLE post, and I’ve gotta say, the post title oughta win a big prize. And to one of your larger points, it is always such a great thing when you find a way into an artist who had previously put you off. That happened with me and Jackson Pollock, though not in as personal a way as you have here. I loved this. 🙂


    • Thanks for the praise, Lori. There is nothing quite like words such as “torpor” and “hitherto.” Even if I never love his fiction, I have found much to like about Nathaniel Hawthorne.


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