What will it be this year: rows of marigolds, geraniums, wave petunias? Or perhaps dwarf zinnias or impatiens or cornflowers? My tools are ready. My hands itch to prepare the soil and begin planting the raised garden spanning the front of my bungalow.

While I mulled over the selection of varied annuals, I happen to come across a novel about another garden, a four-by-four-foot patch of soil hidden among rubble left in the aftermath of the London blitz; it was tended by Lovejoy Mason, a heartsick eleven-year-old, her black and white dog-toothed coat barely covering her lanky frame. Abandoned by her mother to the care of an aspiring restaurateur and his wife, the hardened Lovejoy swipes a packet of cornflower seeds and, with passion, sets about growing them. Over a span of three months she draws the protection of Tip Malone, thirteen, head of the “sparrows,” the name given to the street kids. She also attracts the compassion of a wealthy spinster, plagued by lifelong ailments. Buoyed by these relationships and the flowering of the cornflowers, Lovejoy emerges from a mean-spirited waif with pale eyes and complexion to a robust presence to be reckoned with.

Such is the multi-faceted novel, An Episode of Sparrows (1955), written by the prolific British author, Rumer Godden.

Gardening still tends wounds.

 

 

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