Backlog Studies eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about Backlog Studies.

The conversation ended, therefore, in a very amicable manner, having been taken to a ground that nobody knew anything about.

NINTH STUDY

I

Can you have a backlog in July?  That depends upon circumstances.

In northern New England it is considered a sign of summer when the housewives fill the fireplaces with branches of mountain laurel, and, later, with the feathery stalks of the asparagus.  This is often, too, the timid expression of a tender feeling, under Puritanic repression, which has not sufficient vent in the sweet-william and hollyhock at the front door.  This is a yearning after beauty and ornamentation which has no other means of gratifying itself.

In the most rigid circumstances, the graceful nature of woman thus discloses itself in these mute expressions of an undeveloped taste.  You may never doubt what the common flowers growing along the pathway to the front door mean to the maiden of many summers who tends them; —­love and religion, and the weariness of an uneventful life.  The sacredness of the Sabbath, the hidden memory of an unrevealed and unrequited affection, the slow years of gathering and wasting sweetness, are in the smell of the pink and the sweet-clover.  These sentimental plants breathe something of the longing of the maiden who sits in the Sunday evenings of summer on the lonesome front doorstone, singing the hymns of the saints, and perennial as the myrtle that grows thereby.

Yet not always in summer, even with the aid of unrequited love and devotional feeling, is it safe to let the fire go out on the hearth, in our latitude.  I remember when the last almost total eclipse of the sun happened in August, what a bone-piercing chill came over the world.  Perhaps the imagination had something to do with causing the chill from that temporary hiding of the sun to feel so much more penetrating than that from the coming on of night, which shortly followed.  It was impossible not to experience a shudder as of the approach of the Judgment Day, when the shadows were flung upon the green lawn, and we all stood in the wan light, looking unfamiliar to each other.  The birds in the trees felt the spell.  We could in fancy see those spectral camp-fires which men would build on the earth, if the sun should slow its fires down to about the brilliancy of the moon.  It was a great relief to all of us to go into the house, and, before a blazing wood-fire, talk of the end of the world.

In New England it is scarcely ever safe to let the fire go out; it is best to bank it, for it needs but the turn of a weather-vane at any hour to sweep the Atlantic rains over us, or to bring down the chill of Hudson’s Bay.  There are days when the steam ship on the Atlantic glides calmly along under a full canvas, but its central fires must always be ready to make steam against head-winds and antagonistic

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Backlog Studies from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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