Have I ever mentioned that Jane Kirkpatrick is my number one favorite writer? And not just because she’s friends with my high school volley ball coach. And not because she moved from her homestead to Bend, Oregon. And not just because I got to listen to her speak a time or two in Central Oregon. But because she is a fascinating historian and story teller.
Where Lilacs Bloom is a great example of how it starts. Someone knows of a really great story, about a woman, who did things no one did at the time. They give the information bit by bit to Jane, until she’s hooked and passionate about it, and then she feeds us the passion. One thing that makes a great read for me, is when my eyes are opened to something I did not know previously, when it sparks passion in my own heart, when it makes me want to learn more about the area or person, and when I’ve left the book feeling like I’ve gained wisdom or insight from reading and learning about the story. I’ve visited towns and museums mentioned in her books. I’ve met a few of the people mentioned as well. Thrilling.
This book – Where Lilacs Still Bloom – Weaves a tale of a woman who loved to garden. But not just gardening, horticulture. She had challenging goals of finding a sweeter crisper apple, deepening the color of a daffodil, and creating a white lilac with seven petals – to name a few. This was during a time when man really wasn’t encouraged to change what God had created. Especially during a time when women needed to be baking bread and mending socks.
I really enjoyed a quote on page 41: “I was doing something simple housewives didn’t do and, even more salacious, taking pleasure in it.” This is how I feel as a photographer and blogger. I feel the sting from other ladies as well as men, as they try to judge my time online. Judge my time as a homeschool mom. Wonder about how much time the boys and I enjoy nature. But I know that these passions must be pursued. I know that I still can have a delicious meal on the table, the laundry sorted, the math work done, and have a wonderful time in the canoe taking photos of birds in the morning after Facebook time with my online gal pals.
So many of my friends that do support my time outside with a camera – question the amount of time spent, giving excuses of why they lack the time or desire. I enjoyed what Jane wrote on page 78: “Beauty matters, Bertha; it does. God gave us flowers for a reason. I think so we’d pay attention to the details of creation and remember to trust Him in all things big or little, no matter what the challenge. Flowers remind us to put away fear, to stop our rushing and running and worrying about this and that, and for a moment have a piece of paradise right here on earth.” I can’t tell you how the Lord speaks to me through my gardening. I have not done a lot of it these past two years, just upkeep, but the morning lessons – of planning and planting. Weeding and watering. Harvesting and preserving. Seeing the cycle continue each year. The unexpected among the faithful fruits.
I enjoyed following Mrs. Klager from her youth to her passing. Of watching a life lived out, the sweet, painful, triumphant, celebrated life. I lead a pretty open life online, and in real life. Especially in our home now, which is a retreat to many, my policy is to keep the door open to visitors, whoever comes and needs rest will find it. Mrs. Klager had the same idea of whoever wanted to visit could come. Sometimes it is hard, the people who come and go. The moving with Darren’s job is hard, and I feel the loss of friends who drift as circumstances change, which brings me to my third favorite quote from the book:
Page 303: “The years passed like a good story, swiftly, full of momentum and change, characters coming in to warm us, set us straight, drifting in and out of our lives but knowing they were part of the story line, hoping it wouldn’t end but taking us there anyway.”
If you are looking to really dig deep – into a great book – I suggest anything written by Jane Kirkpatrick. My favorite, of course, would be A Gathering of Finches, a wonderful historical fiction of my home town/area of Coos County. Even with all of the historical information I knew of our great town, I never ‘met’ the grandparents of my friends so closely as in this book. Or Homestead, Jane’s own non fiction of her home in Eastern Oregon. Or another favorite of a Portrait of the Heart series learning of a young woman breaking into the mans world of photography, or her books about Aurora, in the Change and Cherish series.
And if you ever get a chance to attend a book signing, you will leave feeling fuller than when you came. The ones I’ve attended have felt like a mini retreat. The wisdom and grace and humility – I could go on – but this is a review about a book –but then, aren’t books an extension of the person who writes them? Jane’s stories are books worth purchasing. You’ll want to pass it along, or build a great bookshelf – I highly recommend them!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.