Anton Chekhov’s Gooseberries: On Happiness

Anton Chekhov’s “Gooseberries” tells a story–two friends, Ivan and Bourkin, shelter from the rain at another friend’s house. They take a swim in a pond and then Ivan tells about his brother, a civil servant, who had a dream of owning a house and a gooseberry patch. This idea so possessed him that he married a wealthy widow, starved his wife to death trying to save money, and finally bought an estate. When Ivan visited his brother in his new home, he found him not the meek civil servant that he once was but a pompous man who oppressed his peasants and took offense over not being saluted properly. A plate of gooseberries harvested from his patch was brought in during dinner. Though they were hard and sour, Ivan’s brother ate them with relish, delighting in every bite.

As Ivan tells the story, he turns to his friends and makes the speech that forms the climax of “Gooseberries.” He says that happiness doesn’t exist, that it shouldn’t exist. He urges his friends, younger men, to do good. “Obviously the happy man is at ease only because the unhappy ones bear their burdens in silence, and if there were not this silence, happiness would be impossible,” Ivan says in agitation. “Behind the door of every contented, happy man there ought to be someone standing with a little hammer and continually reminding him with a knock that there are unhappy people, that however happy he may be, life will sooner or later show him its claws, and trouble will come to him — illness, poverty, losses, and then no one will see or hear him, just as now he neither sees nor hears others.”

Ivan’s friends are not moved. Bourkin finds it annoying; Aliokhin, the friend in whose house Ivan tells his story, would have preferred a more exciting story about women, rather than about a boring clerk stuffing his face with gooseberries. They retire for the day, and Ivan who had previously enjoyed his swim falls soundly asleep, while his friend Bourkin stays awake for a long time, bothered by the pungent scent of Ivan’s snuffed-out pipe.

Like most of Chekhov’s stories, Gooseberries has a simple plot, but the layers of meaning are so complex that you can read it countless times and still be changed by it. You can read it as a critique of social injustice and quest for meaning in life. “Do good,” implores Ivan. It can be read as a call for action, and in our times when social accountability, ethical choices, and sustainable decisions are on everyone’s lips, it’s a tempting interpretation.

For me, however, “Gooseberries” is about the defense of happiness, despite what the story suggests at first glance. Chekhov plays with the same contradictions that exist in all of us. The same Ivan who rallies against happiness enjoys a country walk and gives himself over to the pleasure of the swim in the rain with such child-like delight that Bourkin has to bring him back to his senses. He is smitten by beauty around him, even though he claims to find the idea of happiness revolting.

I spent years studying political science and economic development and now I write mostly about art, culture, and scents. At times, it feels self-indulgent. The energy that I put into writing an article about the charms of violets could be spent on something more, I don’t know, socially useful. It’s the same impetus that drives me to write about my favorite incense perfumes and then about the dangers of enjoying frankincense too much. And both of these points are valid, and that’s the reason why the story moves me.

Chekhov won’t assuage any feelings of guilt, but at the same time, he presents the question more broadly. Yes, do good and be conscious of the consequences of your decisions, but life is too short not to accept its gifts. We can survive without perfume. We can even survive without Chekhov. Yet, why would we want to? Reading Chekhov, I’m always reminded of a quote by Tolstoy that the aim of the artist is not to provide solutions but “to make people love life in all its countless inexhaustible manifestations.”

I may never discover the right balance between my yearnings and aspirations. I may always be doubting, questioning, searching. But I know that when I find myself caught in the rain, I will take a deep inhale and surrender myself to happiness.

P.S. Chekhov died in 1904 and he never witnessed that only 19 years after “Gooseberries” was published in 1898, the Bolshevik Revolution set the stage for Ivan’s “man with a little hammer” to take his revenge–with terrifying consequences.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

The full version of Chekhov’s “Gooseberries” in the translation by S. S. Koteliansky and Gilbert Cannan.

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63 Comments

  • Constance: Hello Victoria! I have the same struggle sometimes- both of my parents do work that I consider very altruistic and socially important. I frequently have a hard time squaring that with my decision to work in fragrance, especially with a BS in Chemistry that I could use for so many other things. But art and beauty are some of the things that make life most worth living, and I love contributing to that.
    Thank you as always for another story recommendation! September 27, 2021 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve come to understand that it’s normal to pose such questions to oneself, as you always need to check whether the choice you’ve made corresponds to what you’ve become. Ultimately, it’s as you say–beautiful things make life more enjoyable, and that’s an important contribution. September 28, 2021 at 2:06am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for this impressive, thoughtful post. You have echoed profound questions indeed – whether we should enjoy our lives while others suffer, and how we are to solve the various problems of inequity and injustice. I note that, in Chekhov’s story, Ivan also enjoys his pipe!

    It’s a coincidence that, as you posted this article, I was in the middle of watching “Amélie” – a film about a woman who savours the simple joys of life and spreads happiness. When I checked for your latest column during an ad break, though, I couldn’t wait for the challenge of writing a comment, so I ditched the film. Besides, it’s about time I bought myself a copy of the DVD, which is available for only $8.79 from Amazon, and which should have the “extras” that I so relish!

    I can identify with Ivan’s concern that “the happy man is at ease only because the unhappy ones bear their burdens in silence”, for there are times when I think it would be better if humans and other animals didn’t exist. That is because, as far as I can determine, it is the only way to eliminate suffering. I have had to reconcile myself with the fact that, while some humans and other creatures are experiencing happiness, others will be experiencing pain in myriad forms. That is the price we all pay for living. I think it is important to state that even those who are suffering might choose to live in spite of their trials, if given a choice.

    Victoria, the fact that you sometimes feel self-indulgent when writing about perfume is a testament to how much you enjoy it. And I am very glad that you do write about fragrance and that you delight in it, because it brings such pleasure to others. Bear in mind, too, that for everyone who writes the occasional comment, there could be ten others who read your posts but, for whatever reason, choose not to join the conversation.

    I know that I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating in relation to your post: it is said that the sciences give us the means to live and the arts give us the reason to live. I truly believe this. Why does the doctor heal the child? Why, it is so that the child can go on to enjoy something about life. And in all probability, the doctor enjoys healing.

    Your magnificent blog is a genteel haven of culture, a respite from the difficulties of life, particularly during challenging times such as the lockdowns and other trials of the current pandemic. Its importance cannot and should not be underestimated. I can’t think of any more useful way that you could be spending your time or considerable talents, Victoria. In my view, you long ago found your vocation in Bois de Jasmin.

    Oh, and what a terrific quote from Tolstoy!

    I’ve decided that I shall be self-indulgent and include my slightly tweaked version of the poem that I wrote for you last year, to remind you of just what Bois de Jasmin means to me, and I know for sure, to countless others.

    With gratitude and best wishes,
    Tourmaline

    ODE TO BOIS DE JASMIN

    This glorious perfumed cathedral
    Is more than the sum of its people We worship at the altar of scent
    And art and writing and all they have meant

    Our curious, lay congregation Revels in a broad education Our passionate, qualified preacher Is an eloquent, generous teacher

    Her homilies of thoughtful nature Earnestly explore our culture Comments bring us all together Fellowship across the ether

    Sampling, sharing each new find We’re pilgrims seeking rapture Those sparks of heaven in the mire Celestial gems we capture

    We smell the sweet cathedral flowers Choose a fragrance to be ours Confessing to each costly sin We learn, repent and try again

    Bathed in vivid stained-glass light We sing amid the global choir Hymns to dear Après L’Ondée Shalimar or Jean Naté

    We watch as bishops baptize babies Soon to grace the halls of Macy’s Coveting a font of cologne Or perfume organ of our own

    We kneel before the holy ghosts Of Jacques Guerlain and Ed Roudnitska Relishing the memories Of gardens grown by our Babushkas

    We pray for those who grieve and suffer Light sweet candles for lost souls Communing here improves perspective Spreads compassion, clarifies goals

    The incense lingers all our days
    Our isolation it allays As modern living takes its toll The long sillage doth feed our soul

    Road to everything sublime Portal to a world divine Community in motion Blessed Bois de Jasmin September 27, 2021 at 9:30am Reply

    • Tourmaline: P. S.

      Alas, my four-line stanzas appear to have bitten the dust, but I guess it’s the meaning that counts! September 27, 2021 at 9:32am Reply

      • Tourmaline: P. P. S.

        Feel free to fix it, Victoria, if you feel so inclined! September 27, 2021 at 9:38am Reply

      • mayfly: What a wonderful tribute to BDJ!!- I know you speak for me and many others, in celebrating and articulating our delight and gratitude for Victoria’s wonderful blog and the community we all find pleasure and respite in.
        I also love the quote about science and the arts! Art is so much more than a frivolity, providing light and sustenance in hard times.
        I found a beautiful vintage Liberty silk scarf in the charity shop on Saturday, (£2!) the colours and patterns in this remind me of Victorias writing..
        rich, multi faceted and jewel like, this scarf gives me immense pleasure when I wear it, I also feel uplifted in this way when I connect with Victoria’s writing and this community.
        Long Live Boisdejasmine! September 27, 2021 at 11:54am Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi Mayfly

          Thank you so much! Yes, I’m positive that many people feel the same way. I wouldn’t want to live without the arts.

          I like the comparison you make between the silk Liberty scarf that you found (fabulous bargain) and Victoria’s writing. It is wonderful to find beauty in tiny details, as Victoria does constantly, whether in fragrances, books, recipes, paintings or any of the other areas about which she writes.

          Indeed – Long live Bois de Jasmin! September 27, 2021 at 12:04pm Reply

          • Mayfly: It’s the small details that make life worthwhile a lot of the time I totally agree. September 28, 2021 at 7:54am Reply

            • Tourmaline: So true. September 28, 2021 at 8:28am Reply

      • Victoria: No worries! September 28, 2021 at 2:08am Reply

    • OperaFan: Tourmaline- what a wonderful tribute!
      And I agree that Victoria’s writings bring much pleasure to her readers as well as trigger thoughtfulness and often wide ranging discussions.
      I’m one of those 9 in ten that reads faithfully but rarely comments as my life just doesn’t allow the luxury of time. 😬 September 27, 2021 at 10:04am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi OperaFan,

        Thank you; I’m glad you appreciated my tribute. I’m also glad that you were able to comment on this occasion. I have the luxury of time on account of being retired!

        With kind regards,
        Tourmaline September 27, 2021 at 10:08am Reply

        • OperaFan: I’m very much looking forward to my retirement, which sadly (and hopefully) won’t be for another 6 years….. 🙂 September 27, 2021 at 10:29am Reply

          • Tourmaline: Do you have mixed feelings about your retirement? September 27, 2021 at 10:31am Reply

            • OperaFan: How did you guess? (lol!)
              There’s so much I want to do and so little time and so many obligations. The freedom of time is something I long for, so in that sense, I can’t wait, but for now I need to remain employed for the same reason as others in my position unless government policies change. I’m not very optimistic about the latter. September 27, 2021 at 10:48am Reply

              • Tourmaline: I so vividly recall the longing for more free time when I was working! Alas, government change doesn’t come easily… I drive my elderly father to appointments about twice each week, and I make lunch for him twice a week as well, but I enjoy doing those things (unless they conflict with a film that I’d like to have watched on World Movies, but such films are always repeated sooner or later!). September 27, 2021 at 10:55am Reply

                • OperaFan: Looking after aging parents is such a privilege, no matter how difficult it can be at times. Your father is very blessed to have you. <3 September 27, 2021 at 12:40pm Reply

                  • Tourmaline: That’s true; it is a privilege. Thank you, OperaFan, that’s very kind of you. I’m lucky to have him, too! September 28, 2021 at 7:04am Reply

      • Victoria: I appreciate all of you, those who comment and those who don’t. I understand that participating in a discussion is not always possible. September 28, 2021 at 2:09am Reply

    • Cassieflower: Hi Tourmaline
      I’m one of the ten others who don’t always chime in with a comment so I’ve made an effort today, haha. I LOVE your ode. September 27, 2021 at 11:16am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Cassieflower,

        You’re very kind; thank you so much! I’m glad you commented today.

        With kind regards,
        Tourmaline September 27, 2021 at 11:18am Reply

    • rickyrebarco: Wonderful tribute. Love it!! I agree that Bois de Jasmin is a sublime portal to beauty and the arts. September 27, 2021 at 12:55pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Ricky,

        Thank you so much! Yes, it really is. September 28, 2021 at 7:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for your generosity and for sharing your creativity here. I’ve touched by your words and your poem.

      I also bought Amélie, because I so enjoy watching it time to time. September 28, 2021 at 2:07am Reply

      • Tourmaline: You’re most welcome, Victoria.

        I’m looking forward to watching the extras! September 28, 2021 at 7:08am Reply

    • Marianne: So much depth, wisdom and insight in your post, Tourmaline. Thank you 💐 September 29, 2021 at 8:05am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Thank you, Marianne. I’m touched by your kindness. September 29, 2021 at 8:23am Reply

  • OperaFan: Like many, I also struggle with serving others versus the self, and how much is enough versus too much. But then, isn’t that what part of life is about, finding the right balance? And why shouldn’t we be able to have both? What you (and others) do and the benefits they bring to others – and this is nothing new – is that you need to feed yourself in order to be able to feed others.
    So that’s MY excuse! 😉

    And thank you for this thoughtful post and the addition to my growing reading list. September 27, 2021 at 10:36am Reply

    • OperaFan: That last sentence is missing [something] (my train of thought got ahead of me):
      What you (and others) do and the benefits they bring to others [aside] – and this is nothing new – [the important thing] is that you need to feed yourself in order to be able to feed others.

      How wonderful it is when you can do something that brings you pleasure and others derive benefit from it as well? This used to happen to me when I sang in church, and members of the congregation would come up to me, even weeks after telling me how much it meant to them. 🙂 September 27, 2021 at 10:53am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi OperaFan,

        It is so true that you need to feed yourself in order to feed others (as exemplified by the rule to put on your own breathing mask before fitting the masks for others on a plane). I also agree that finding the right balance among many things is a recurring challenge in life.

        With kind regards,
        Tourmaline September 27, 2021 at 11:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I completely agree with you. Chekhov’s story can also be read as a warning of falling into extremes.

      The story is quite short, so I left a link where you can read the translation. September 28, 2021 at 2:10am Reply

      • Marianne: Hello, this has been an inspiring conversation! It brings to mind the saying “physician, heal thyself”, which is attributed to both Hippocrates and also to Jesus, through St Luke’s Gospels. What is our life task? Can it be to discover our true nature and joy, which may be judged as altruistic or perhaps lofty, or may be connected to enjoying and sharing beauty such as through art, perfumes, the natural world, creating a loving and comfortable home, or cooking delicious food? September 30, 2021 at 7:55pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s a beautiful thought. October 2, 2021 at 7:17am Reply

  • Debby: What a wonderful post, thanks, Victoria.

    I fervently believe that the things that are seen as trivial are just as important, especially now. You often see people complaining about what they perceive as unimportant when there are so many tragedies and injustices in the world, well of course that is ultimately more important. But is is the inessential that makes us live rather than simply surviving. And it’s too easy to simply survive right now when everything seems to be falling apart.

    I sometimes feel that I have wasted my life by studying art instead of something more useful, particularly in a country that seems determined to keep chipping away at the funding for the arts in general. We are made to feel trivial and unimportant even though it has been clearly demonstrated that the creative sector is one of the most economically rewarding.

    As for happiness, Ivan and his walk and swim in the rain resonates as I find the key is trying to maintain a childlike sense of wonder, not always easy when events demand that we need to be very serious and grownup, but taking time to notice and appreciate small things: insects, flowers, and, of course, scents.

    I love this blog, it is so refreshing in this increasingly dumbed down and cynical time, thank you for providing this beauty for us. September 27, 2021 at 10:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for this. I also was thinking how the pandemic affected the arts and how many governments justify cutting funds further.
      And another reason I find the arts important is because they allow for the discussion of subjects in a nuanced way, the way our current discourse doesn’t. September 28, 2021 at 8:44am Reply

  • Cassieflower: Thank you Victoria for that post. It rings all sorts of bells with me as I have been questioning my own career path a lot this past year. I work in theatre and the arts, an industry that has been decimated here. After twenty-six years in the industry I am at a loss to even know if I could work in a ‘normal’ job anymore, and furthermore, if any prospective employer would even want to employ me – I’m no spring chicken.
    Debby has made a very valid point about how the arts are sometimes perceived as trivial. I can attest to the many ways in which they are anything but trivial or unworthy.
    Please continue to write for us, Victoria, we enjoy it so much. We need beauty and sensitivity in our lives – always – and especially in the current climate. September 27, 2021 at 11:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much. I hope that you can continue working in your field, since you clearly like it. Do you think that it might be possible to recast your role in some way or to try something new in it? I have a friend who switched from costume design to archiving, for instance. September 28, 2021 at 8:46am Reply

  • carole: What a thought provoking post! I’ve beenr eading since you started writing, and when my thoughts are low I come here and re read the archives-including the comments. I appreciate how you created this beautiful space where we can chat and learn about perfume, books, music, art-everything. I think you’re a public service lol. Please keep writing, and thank you, Victoria, and all the people who comment-you make my day, and help keep me sane, and I appreciate it 🙂 September 27, 2021 at 11:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! All of you make for an amazing group. September 28, 2021 at 9:23am Reply

  • Filomena: What a great day to start the day…and on a Monday no less. Thank you Victoria and Tourmaline for your wonderful posts! September 27, 2021 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: You’re welcome, Filomena! September 28, 2021 at 7:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for reading! 🙂 September 28, 2021 at 9:26am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I love Checkhov and all the great Russian writers. I will definitely obtain the translation of Gooseberries that you recommend. I, too, struggle with enjoying things that may seem frivolous when others suffer. However, I have suffered much in my own life and I savor each minute of happiness that life offers me.

    I do all I can to help others through assistance to friends and to my children and through things like micro-lending through KIVA, a US based organization that allows individuals like us to make micro-loans to small family businesses all over the world. It’s a way to help people one family at a time. I also support anti-discrimination groups. I do not have the physical strength or stamina to do in person assistance to those less fortunate, but I do what I can while also not denying myself the ability to enjoy life to the fullest. September 27, 2021 at 12:50pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: It sounds as though you make a wonderful contribution to the world, Ricky. September 28, 2021 at 7:21am Reply

    • Victoria: You can read it directly from the link I provided. The story is only 8-9 pages.

      Yes, what you say is true. And I also lived through different periods in my life, some difficult financially or emotionally, so those experiences provide a perspective. September 28, 2021 at 9:26am Reply

  • Fazal: Thanks for this post. Really enjoyed the article!

    I am not into religion, and believe that we will simply become worm food or turn to dust once we die, and that is the end of it. When I am asked by those who believe in religion as to what is the purpose of life, I always say that the purpose of life is to make sure the world is a little better off due to your existence and not the other way around. As long as you do not violate the rights of others, and most people, who have known you, do feel WITHOUT PREJUDICE that you have lived well, you can be proud of yourself. September 27, 2021 at 4:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I agree with your perspective on the whole. September 28, 2021 at 9:21am Reply

  • Ewan: Perhaps a little off topic , and doubtless many have done this, but:

    In the perfume shop the perfume is sprayed onto absorbant cards for testing. I wondered where I should put them and found that they work well as aromatic bookmarks.

    St. Catherine of Siena wrote that we will never be satisfied with things that are lesser than we, even if we possess the whole world, happiness will only come when we dedicate our lives to the ‘greater than we’.

    Perfumes, aromas, fragrances as they raise our spirits seem to adhere to this philosophy, they tend to rise as our eyes rise looking upon a steeple. September 28, 2021 at 4:27am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Ewan,

      That’s a great idea, to use the perfumed cards as bookmarks.

      I liked your triple comparison of the wafting of fragrances, the raising of our spirits and our eyes looking upwards to a steeple. September 28, 2021 at 7:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Beautiful, thank you.

      I also use blotters as book marks. Since they’re sturdy, they’re perfect for that job. September 28, 2021 at 9:22am Reply

  • Ewan: I think we’re all somewhat beholden to tthings far greater than we, and I must say, this blog helps us along our way.

    I use the bookmarks in my sketch pads and it gives my drawing another element

    God bless us all September 28, 2021 at 3:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t agree more! September 29, 2021 at 6:43am Reply

  • Amalia: Hello Victoria! If you find happiness writing about art, culture, and scents, I couldn’t agree more. We always have quests, and humanity in European culture had doubts, challenges, seeks. We are so lucky having you! Big hugs from Greece. September 28, 2021 at 4:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Amalia! September 29, 2021 at 6:58am Reply

  • Nadja: I feel self-conscious offering a book suggestion to someone who is so much more of a adventurous and dedicated reader than I am, but I wonder if you might enjoy Ocean Vuong if you haven’t read him yet? I heard a talk he gave where he said in his work he is always asking what the use of joy is in the aftermath of violence. Your post reminded me of it. September 28, 2021 at 11:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love book suggestions I receive here. If I were to compile a list of what I read and loved based such recommendations, it would be very long. So, thank you for recommending Ocean Vuong. September 29, 2021 at 7:00am Reply

  • Marianne: An intriguing, layered story. As you stated, Victoria, it reveals facets of itself with every read. Today’s facet of significance for me is within the excerpt below:
    ‘A man needs, not six feet of land, not a farm, but the whole earth, all Nature, where in full liberty he can display all the properties and qualities of the free spirit.’
    So much is contained in these words. ‘Full liberty’ requires complete honesty, self acceptance, courage, authenticity.
    Victoria, thank you for this story and for writing that explores what may and what may not be of value. Nature with her violets, flowers, perfume and beauty are essential to our well-being. Surely wellbeing’s what we ultimately long for.
    Your beautiful writing is especially important in these times. You open doors that link us in so many ways, I sense more than we realise. September 29, 2021 at 7:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I also liked that sentence, and it captures so much that attracts me to Chekhov, more so that to his contemporary writers. October 2, 2021 at 7:06am Reply

  • Frances: I thought about your post quite a lot since I read it, Victoria, and was to write something in answer but I’ve been busy, distracted and honestly rather tired these last two days. When I was finally in the process of writing a long comment, my internet connection decided otherwise so I will keep this one short (kind of).

    Of Gogol, I know of course Dead Souls but never heard of this story, so thank you for sharing it with us. It is indeed a very layered one which keeps the reader thinking about its different meanings. As you said in one of your comment in answer to a reader, art is very important because it allows us to view and discuss things in a nuanced way and I agree that nuance is not nowadays forte. People often tend to go to extreme in every aspect of life and subtlety is lost on most of them as they see the world either entirely black or entirely white. It is worth worrying about this way of thinking because it is a breeding ground for dangerous ideologies as you state it at the end of your post. It is important to keep in mind that dictatorship is not solely the fact of greedy cruel men like Ivan’s brother who have no compassion or respect for others but also the fact of righteous men like Ivan himself who want to force virtue upon the ones they see as lacking and finally do harm when they meant to do good. Much like the brother who had a modest innocent dream to begin with and turned it into a gooseberries filled nightmare for the ones around him. Ivan condemning happiness while he enjoyed so much his swim and the treasures of nature is indicative of human’s nature blindness to wisdom. So, Victoria, I guess you’re right to enjoy the rain and to surrender to happiness (what a beautiful sentence!) Rest assured you’re doing something good and meaningful when you write on Bois de Jasmin. You open our heart to new scents, new ideas and new cultures and you celebrate beauty which is not a luxury or a frivolity but a need deeply rooted within us. It goes beyond civilization or human ability and cleverness as even little birds cannot live without beauty around them. There is a specie of bird, the bird gardeners who build the most exquisite beautiful nest to please the female they want to seduce. And in most species females are
    attracted by the bird who is the best singer.

    @Tourmaline: thank you for your wonderful sensitive tribute and for sharing your poetry with us. It is very generous of you! And I know for sure, as I was myself, not long ago, a ghost reader, that people who don’t comment or don’t comment often also appreciate this blog very much and find pleasure, meaning and sometimes peace of mind when reading it. Thank you for talking about it. September 29, 2021 at 5:11pm Reply

    • Frances: I am sorry, this is not a short comment! I got carried away, obviously! September 29, 2021 at 5:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your thoughts.
      Oh, I looked up the birds you mentioned and their nests were amazing. I’ve never seen anything like that! If that’s not a testament to the importance of beauty, I don’t know what is. October 2, 2021 at 7:16am Reply

  • Julia: Victoria, if you ever, even for a moment, think that you’re being self-indulgent writing about violets, just remember how much joy and pleasure you bring to people who indulge in your pieces. You’re like Tolstoy’s artist that remind people to love life.

    I rarely comment, but felt compelled to leave this note. Thank you for your work! September 30, 2021 at 9:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Julia! It’s been such a pleasure to read the comments here and to meet more readers. Thank you for your note and for your kind words. October 2, 2021 at 7:18am Reply

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