Tuesday, 10 June 2008


sunny, stinking hot, humid, temps 31

Dear lord, we're meeeelting. What a country. From minus 30 to plus thirty in not that many weeks.

Heard great news from Lise at home who reports that we almost certainly won't miss the peonies. They're about to burst open, but the show lasts about 2 weeks and we'll be home at about this time next week. Do you know peonies? They make my knees go weak.

I think I'm a bit of a flower whore (or is it john?) Show me a well turned ankle and an overwhelming perfume and I'm smitten. I think peonies (originally from Japan I believe) are about the most perfect flower. All sorts of colours, though ours tend to be classic pink. Very full, bigger than a large man's fist. And fragrant? I sometimes stand in the centre of our formal english garden (as opposed to the wild pond garden) and feel the tears. Especially on a day like today. Hardly any breeze so the aroma stays in the garden, and with the heat and humidity the flowers radiate sweetness.

To add to their beauty, they only last 2 weeks. Inevitably there is what a good friend calls a 'peony rain' which drums down so hard it flattens the flowers, which need to be staked anyway since their heads are so heavy with flower.

And - to add further to their beauty - peony bushes are extraordinarily long-lived in Quebec. It's not unusual to see an old farmhouse abandonned and neglected, but a peony still blooming. It is the optomist, the hopeful flower - that knows when to bloom and when to rest. In our garden the first full bloom of our roses comes at the same time as the peonies. Michael and I sit in our chairs, with florid pink lemonades, and wonder how we got so lucky.

I remember when Still Life first came out and we had to go to Toronto for BookExpo - to sign the advance copies. I cried as we left, filled with sorrow that we'd miss this most blessed week in the garden, but filled with amazement and gratitude it was for that reason - so see and sign my first book. As it turned out the peony held on - and now the blooms are increasingly gorgeous, and long-lived.

We're off for my 4th bookexpo tomorrow (the event is over the weekend in Toronto) - but there are no tears. I know the flowers will be there - and if not, they'll be back next year.

This I know, and this I trust.

I really have learned so much in that garden.

Had more good news - Teresa heard from Spain today and it seems we've sold the books there, for translation. Indeed, there seems to be an auction, so that's nice.

Had breakfast with Susan this morning - she's going to spend part of her holidays in the guest house this summer.

And had a lovely invitation from the village of Georgeville, not far from where we live, to come and do an event when the next book comes out. I actually get nice inviations like that two or three times a week and I'm always grateful and try to fit them into the schedule, though some are quite far away and more difficult.

The reason I'm specifically mentioning this invitation is that she did something both smart and kind. In the invitation she mentioned they could make my event a fundraiser for their village library. And I realized how much I prefer to do fundraisers rather than straight events.

I say this in case any of you would like me to visit - I think there's a better chance of my fitting your event in if you could make it a fundraiser for anything that's important to your community. It could be the library, the local no-kill shelter, literacy, a family in need of extra money because of an emergency, Habitat for Humanity. Whatecver you decide. I wish I was of the stature that would bring in significant amounts of money, but every little bit helps.

Anyway, something to consider.

We're leaving early tomorrow for the 6 hour drive into Ontario. Going first to the village of Elora to visit Cousin Marjorie. (one of a few older women who inspired Ruth). Will try to blog from there, but I know Marjorie doesn't have internet. Might sneak away to a cafe.


Elizabeth said...

I agree one hundred percent about the peonies. I especially love the old dark red ones that one doesn't see so much anymore. I remember taking bouquets of them in to teachers when I was about 7 or 8 and being slightly put off by the ants that always seemed to cling to them. The scent takes me right back to that time. We're melting here too today.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I always forget about the ants, until I see them scurrying over the kitchen table, away from the bouquet.

Terrible thunder storms a couple of hours ago here - did you get them> Violent.

Anonymous said...

sounds like peonies in Canada are like cherry blossoms in Japan--beautiful, shortlived but dependably seasonal... hope you write about them when you get back to enjoy yours!

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Ovidia,

How wonderful - I think you must be right. It must be magical to see those cherry blossoms. I always imagine them falling like snow.