We’ve been in Paris, where our son has been studying and working in industrial design. I had so much fun walking around this enchanting city which, among other treasures, has secret gardens galore, flower vendors and flower markets, and floral shops offering spring flowers, herbs, and foliage, all beautifully arranged and presented.
A few years ago I was browsing in a local used book shop when I discovered a volume of essays by Colette,Flowers and Fruit,first printed in the US in 1986.
Some of the essays were inspired by a Swiss publisher, who for a time sent Colette a bouquet of flowers once or twice a week so she could write sketches of those that inspired her.
Colette wrote one of the longer essays in this collection, “Flora and Pomona,” during the Nazi occupation. According to the collection’s editor, Colette conceived of the writing project to “keep the coal bin at 9, rue de Beaujolais well filled and pay the black-market prices for rabbit and cheese and chicken and other comestibles otherwise unavailable, even to much-loved novelists living in the Palais-Royal.”
At the time of its publication, some critics said factual errors, weak editing, and a less than adequate translation detracted from Flowers and Fruit. I find Colette’s writing challenging, so this isn’t the kind of book I’d read straight through. It’s a little treasure for floral enthusiasts that’s fun to browse when I want Colette’s unusual take on flowers.
We were lucky to be in Paris on May Day. This holiday’s signature flower is lily of the valley, one of my favorites. They were everywhere.
Here are some of my Paris floral photos paired with Colette’s thoughts on flowers and gardens:
Writer, blogger at Books Can Save a Life, about the healing and enriching power of books. At work on a memoir about growing up with a mother who is mentally ill. A former book editor and medical librarian, my work has been published in Great Lakes Review, Library Journal, and other publications.
View all posts by Valorie Grace Hallinan