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There is something compelling and intrinsically summer about the feel and smell of a kitchen garden. Our small plot of herbs, berries and veggies was the first thing to go in when we bought our first house, that feeling of ownership and belonging solidifying with every turned-over shovelful of that rich, dark earth. We’re urban gardeners, far from our families’ roots as farmers, but there’s still a magic to picking the first peas of the spring, and watching the strawberries and raspberries swell and redden in the sun.
I try an experiment in part of the garden every year, and last year’s ‘new thing’ was a packet of baby bok choi seeds, in the hopes of freshening up our stir fries and hot pot dinners. We were out of town when a heat wave hit, and the entire crop bolted, so I put the bok choi out of my mind and this year didn’t bother to reseed — on to asparagus and parsnips, for spring salads and winter stews. Except something wonderful and unexpected happened as soon as the weather turned warm. Little heart-shaped leaves began to push their way up where I had planned to put this year’s tomatoes, and within days —thank goodness I was lazy about weeding!—they developed into the delicate green leaves of more baby bok choi. We’ve enjoyed two meals out of the volunteers so far, with hope for more to come.
Sitting and weeding this morning, the dirt under my nails and the surprise bok choi flourishing in the space it reclaimed for itself, I flashed back to a study done in the 1970s, by a botanist named John Erskine. He travelled the province of Nova Scotia looking for evidence of colonial homesteads, houses and farms that had long since vanished. He wasn’t looking for foundation stones or rusted gates, though—he found his evidence of habitation in the plants surrounding the spaces where villages might once have been.
He found his long-deported Acadians in imported European plants, still seeding and replanting themselves in the reclaimed forests and old trails. Hawthorne hedges mark off pastures and boundaries from 350 years ago, collections of tansy, sorrel and hops flourish in spaces that may once have been kitchen gardens or herbals.
Flower seeds brought to Nova Scotia by trading ships clung to wagons and to horses, dropping along the stretches of wagon roads as farmers headed home from market, and found favourable soil. The roads not turned into modern highways have vanished along with the homesteads they connected to, but Erskine could trace their history in the unexpected patches of yellows and pinks that remained to colour the ground.
I couldn’t ask for a better reminder that the actions we take today will have ripple effects running down through time. What traces will my humble garden leave behind for future generations?
We are all autobiographers, in a way, leaving pieces of our own histories etched into the face of the planet. The next time I go walking in the woods and spot something out of place —a stand of horseradish, or patch of garden cress—my mind will be going to Erskine’s study, and the memories of a people who once made this land bloom. Will someone, hundreds of years from now, stumble upon some trace of my tiny asparagus bed and my perennial herbs and trace the memory of my summer days, recall the dirt under my nails for future generations?
It’s not a bad legacy, all told.
~~Erskine, John S. The French Period in Nova Scotia, A.D. 1500-1758, and Present Remains : A Historical, Archeological and Botanical Survey. Wolfville, N.S.: 1975.
Love would be simpler if it came with a script.
Marguerite Ceniza dies on the London stage each night, but her own life has barely begun. The ingénue is on the prowl for a lover, but while she burns with desire for Sophie, a confession could ruin their decade-long friendship. In the meantime there are always men vying to be her patron, and square-jawed, broad-shouldered James Glover can’t help but catch her eye.
Sophie Armand has been a lady’s maid for too long, and she’s sick of keeping secrets. Her hidden scripts and the story of her birth are only the beginning. Her nights are haunted by desperate thoughts of the beguiling Marguerite, and of James, the handsome tradesman who whispers promises of forever into her ear.
James has the kind of problem a lot of men would kill for—two women, both beautiful, both sensual, and both willing. Sophie wants marriage, while Marguerite’s only in it for fun, and choosing between them isn’t easy.
What’s the worst that could happen if he secretly courts them both?
Their romantic triangle is complicated in the most delicious way, until a shadowy figure from Marguerite’s past threatens to destroy the budding relationship—and their lives.
Warning: Contains a lady’s maid with secret desires, a corset-maker who knows his way around a woman’s body, and an actress who never has to fake it. Rated for adult audiences only.
**ARE Bestseller, and Finalist in 2016 Bisexual Book Awards for both Best Romance and Best Erotic Romance categories.**
About the Author: Tess Bowery lives near the ocean, which sounds lovely, except when it snows. An historian by training and a theater person by passion, she’s parleyed her Masters degree in English history into something that would give her former professors something of a surprise.
Her love for the Regency era began as they always do, with Jane Austen, and took a sharp left turn into LBGT biographies and microhistory. Now she indulges in both of her passions, telling the stories of her community in the time periods that fire the human imagination. Her first foray into contemporary M/M fiction, High Contrast, releases in 2016.
Along with writing, Tess splits her time between teaching, backstage work, LBGT activism and her family. She spends far too much money on comic books, loves superheroes and ghost stories, and still can’t figure out how to use Twitter properly.
Buy the book at Tess’s website.