Happy Friday, Lit Lovers! Last summer Sarah and I went on a beautiful writing excursion around downtown Cleveland. We stopped at different spots around Cleveland (The Cleveland Art Museum, Little Italy, Coventry, etc.) and wrote a freewrite in each spot. Our first stop was at the Cleveland Public Library’s Reading Garden (photo above), a beautiful urban oasis of stone and green and metal nestled next to the Library. So in honor of our Garden week here at Lit and Love, we decided that our Freewrite Friday prompt will be:
Lost in the reading garden.
This can be fictional or a real place you have visited. Describe the flora and fauna (if it even has any) of your garden retreat. Is it a forgotten place or a thriving ? Who is there among the pages and peonies? What are they reading? What aren’t they reading? Are you physically lost or simply lost in the pages of a book? Or both?
Here is an excerpt from our Reading Garden freewrites.
The garden didn’t smell floral like she thought it would. Instead, the air swelled with the bracing tang of acid, bound at its edges with fragile vanilla. The garden didn’t feel like she thought it would either. Outside the garden, she had feared that their trip would be cut short because of the ominous November sky full of storm. However, inside the garden the sun shone brightly and warmed her wind-chilled face. When her eyes adjusted fully to the strange sunlight, the prismatic garden bloomed jewel-like before her.
The Reading Garden was a garden of living paper, a garden of organic word. Here, all the stories of all the ages of all the worlds grew and thrived among each other to create a living library. The garden expanded impossibly onto what seemed to her like acres and acres of archive. Trees grouped together creating small groves on top of hills which curved and sloped like the delicate turn of a page. And all of this was punctuated by the low tones of a stream of dark blue ink that flourished through the garden like calligraphy.
The story your mother told you before your eyes shut for the day was here. The story your ex-boyfriend told you to make him stay with you was there. Hemingway was there. Shakespeare was there. Ovid was there. All were there on the leaves and peeling bark of the reading trees.
Nestled among the trees, the wooden benches told the stories of those who had come before. Fountain pen scrawls graffitied them with messages from past patrons: JENNY WAS HERE. I LOVE DANIEL. JUST KEEP READING. All messages and stories from the past addressed to the future…
The garden gates open at dawn. As the pinks and oranges fade from the sky, iron gates slowly and silently swing to, ready to admit the readers.
Lined up in ones and twos, the early morning shift slips in. Faces slack with sleep, sipping coffee and rubbing sheet marks from their cheeks, the readers file in clutching dog-eared hardbacks, broken-spine paperbacks, and rapidly cooling tea. The unaware might bring an e-reader, but only once. Somehow, once past the gates, the things never seem to work. Bad batteries, maybe a low charge.
Once inside, the readers jockey for position, silently. Benches litter the main walkways, but no one wants to sit there. No, it is the giant tomes splayed open that attract attention, blank creamy pages warming in the sun’s first light. Climbing the crease between the pages, leaning back against the humped-up curve of thick paper… one could lose a whole day surrounded by the gentle whisper of the wind fluttering the corners and the smell of a brand new book. Many have, surprised to look up from the world inside their pages to see the sun high in the sky, or even sinking toward the horizon.
Some are startled from their reveries by the impatient rustling of the pages. They hop off onto thick grass, wend their way through shady trees, and make it to the gate. The last to leave perhaps, they turn to watch the giant page of each book turn to mark the passing of another day, before the gate shut slowly, ushering them to begin the walk home with an audible click.
Be inspired by more Freewrite Friday Prompts!
Lit & Love,