Yesterday was my birthday, and in the tradition of my elementary school years, I am offering you a treat to celebrate the special day. It has food in it, but it’s more magical than edible. It is a short quote from a novel I’m reading, The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman (2011). I enjoy Hoffman’s magical stories very much, and I’d love to write as well as her someday. This quote is only a small taste of what she can do with words, the natural world, and strange and lovely people fulfilling her fairy tale plots.
They had reached the garden, ignored for many years. It was a wild tangle filled mostly with thistle. A clutch of larks and sparrows took flight when the women approached.
“It must have been lovely,” Emily said.
There was still some scarlet amaranth and a stray crimson larkspur, nearly six feet tall, the likes of which Emily had never seen. There was a scraggly row of ruby lettuce and some bright radishes that Olive had put in, which she now pulled from the ground to have with their dinner. The family lore insisted that only red plants would grow in this stretch of ground. Even those blooms that went in as white or pink or blue turned in a matter of weeks. Emily took a bite of a small, muddy radish. The juice in her mouth was red.