When I decided to start a flower business, I was stumped for a name. My husband suggested I consider names of things or places I’m fond of or that are meaningful to me. I pondered naming it after a favorite dessert, or an iconic image from my former professional field, or for a favorite flower.
But then I started thinking about books, and in a flash, I had it.
One of my favorite books as a child was Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright. It’s a sweet story of a girl named Garnet, living on a farm in Wisconsin in the 1930s, who finds a thimble in a stream at the beginning of a hot summer, and feels sure that it’s a magic talisman. I must have read it thirty times (more?); so frequently that sometimes anecdotes from the novel feel a little bit like my own memories instead of remembered text.
Did I ever get locked into a library? Oh, no. That was Garnet and Citronella…
Have I had a midnight picnic of pie by the lime kiln? Oh, no. That was Garnet’s family and Mr. Freebody, their neighbor.
This excerpt near the end of the novel captures its essential sweetness:
Garnet felt pleased. She…put her hands in her pockets. She found in one of them the silver thimble that she had brought to show Eric. She pulled it out and put it on her finger.
“Look Eric,” she said. “I found this in the river on one of the mud flats that came up during the dry spell. It’s solid silver and it’s very valuable. You know why, Eric?” she leaned towards him and said defiantly. “Because it’s magic, that’s why…Everything has happened since I found it, and all nice things! As long as I live, I’m always going to call this summer the thimble summer.”
Garnet was very happy. She was so happy, for no especial reason, that she felt as if she must move carefully so she wouldn’t jar or shake the feeling of happiness.
I keep a silver thimble on a shelf above my flower work-bench. When I see it while working, I’m reminded of the warmth, charm, and kindness of Thimble Summer, and I take my inspiration there.