Monday, August 4, 2014


I am having a Beatrix Potter moment.

It is Monday afternoon. In a few minutes, Will's friend Gavin will be here, and we might go to the pool, or the boys might play here. Their game-playing is eclectic--some Mindcraft until I make my usual "time to get off the screens" announcement, a round of checkers, some soccer outside, then inside for a game of Stratego. Depending on how hot it is, and how buggy, they might go out again, this time to toss around the football.

Whether we go to the pool or stay here, I plan to lounge about reading this absolutely wonderful book I ran across in the library yesterday, Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell. If you have the least bit of Beatrix Potter love, you should read this book. It's filled with art and photographs and Beatrix at Hill Top, her farm in the Lake District.

Did you ever read Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis? In it, he describes a feeling he often had as child called "northerness," feelings of intense joy and longing that he felt when reading Norse myths. He wasn't sure what he was longing for, only that the longing itself was deeply pleasurable. Beatrix Potter's art triggers that sort feeling in me, the same way I feel sometimes when I think about autumn. I can't quite put a finger on the source of the joy or longing, but it's there, and bigger, I think, than Beatrix Potter's gardens and rabbits or red leaves floating down from the tree branches.

So I've just ordered a book of her letters, because I would like to be inside her head a bit. Did I mentioned that I watched "Miss Potter" for the umpteenth time this weekend? And now I'm on a kick.

I have been thinking a lot about dailiness lately. It's one of my favorite things to think about, and I've wanted to write about it here, but I don't know what I want to say about it yet. Only that I'm still trying to pay attention to my day-to-day life, and lately have been practicing what I call "The Liturgy of Making the Beds." One of the definitions of liturgy is a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship, and although my bed making is done in the privacy of my own home, I do like making a kind of ritual of it. I like making it important. Which seems silly to some, I suppose, but at the end of the day, it is a pleasure to lie down in a well made bed. And it is good to thank God for that particular pleasure, I think, and all pleasures of any given day.

Beatrix Potter's art has a dailiness to it, and a life in the garden is most certainly a daily sort of life, with its chores and concerns and little joys. It's satisfying that way a daily life is, when your chores are done, and the kitchen counters are clean and the laundry folded and put away, and you pick up your book or your knitting or your sketchpad.

Well, one day I'll figure out how to write about dailiness in a complete and satisfying way. For now, I'm back to Beatrix and her farm and flowers. You should come, too.

6 comments:

Pom Pom said...

I like to think about day-to-day doings and I have not decided what I want my (gasp!) routine to look like just yet. I keep waiting for an epiphany, but then I read somewhere that if we wait around for THAT, we'll miss our lives. Yikes!
I put that delicious book on my wish list. I have lots of BP books, but not that one.
Now, I'm off to make the bed, Frances.

Tracy said...

I desperately want time to just think about the daily and to immerse myself in 'The Nesting Place' by Myquillan Smith.

Enjoy your final days of summer before school goes back!!

Gumbo Lily said...

I sometimes get into jags of Beatrix Potter. Someone gave me a book called A Victorian Naturalist, Beatrix Potter's Drawings from the Armitt Collection. Such a lot of interesting things and notes about people and places that she associated with in the Lake District. Reading about her life always makes me want to go to Lake District one day and see it all. The garden book sounds very good. I like garden books.

I like your thoughts on dailiness. I make my bed every day too and I have a sort of way I do it. First thing is to throw back the covers/sheet all the way to the end of the bed and let it air-out for awhile before making it neat and tidy.

In summer I don't feel as ritualized in my dailiness as I do in fall and winter. I mostly feel like I am camping. Many indoor things are let go for romping in bare feet outdoors.

Aura Main said...

Enjoyed reading about dailiness in this post. I recently retired and I am finding much pleasure just being home (getting involved in dailiness) and not rushing out to work. I have my bed making routine every day and if I had had a good night rest I make my bed as soon as I get up. I never leave home until the bed is made.

GretchenJoanna said...

You have already started writing in a very helpful way about dailiness. Obviously I need to learn how to be daily/liturgical in my everyday life even when there is no routine to it, because that is the situation God keeps putting me into, year after year. I'll look forward to your further posts on this subject! <3

Heather said...

Frances, just popping in to say that I bought a box of Cheerios today and was delighted to see a book by you included in the packaging! It was quite a treat. I hope you are doing well :-)