DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — A Proustian Moment

Here’s another photo from my visit Tuesday to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum not far from our place in Bloomington, Minn.

These are hawthorn blossoms, French writer Marcel Proust’s favorite flower.

When I got home, I looked up what he had to say about them. Those who haven’t read Proust will notice he used long sentences.

“I found the whole path throbbing with the fragrance of hawthorn-blossom. The hedge resembled a series of chapels, whose walls were no longer visible under the mountains of flowers that were heaped upon their altars; while underneath, the sun cast a square of light upon the ground, as though it had shone in upon them through a window; the scent that swept out over me from them was as rich, and as circumscribed in its range, as though I had been standing before the Lady-altar, and the flowers, themselves adorned also, held out each its little bunch of glittering stamens with an air of inattention, fine, radiating ‘nerves’ in the flamboyant style of architecture, like those which, in church, framed the stair to the rood-loft or closed the perpendicular tracery of the windows, but here spread out into pools of fleshy white, like strawberry-beds in spring.

“How simple and rustic, in comparison with these, would seem the dog-roses which, in a few weeks’ time, would be climbing the same hillside path in the heat of the sun, dressed in the smooth silk of their blushing pink bodices, which would be undone and scattered by the first breath of wind.

“But it was in vain that I lingered before the hawthorns, to breathe in, to marshal before my mind (which knew not what to make of it), to lose in order to rediscover their invisible and unchanging odor, to absorb myself in the rhythm which disposed their flowers here and there with the light-heartedness of youth, and at intervals as unexpected as certain intervals of music; they offered me an indefinite continuation of the same charm, in an inexhaustible profusion, but without letting me delve into it any more deeply, like those melodies which one can play over a hundred times in succession without coming any nearer to their secret.”

Yup, that’s exactly what it was like Tuesday.

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Dave Vorland

David Vorland spent most of his career at the University of North Dakota. As a UND student, he reported part time at the Grand Forks Herald and summers at the Harvey (N.D.) Herald-Press. After teaching journalism full time for five years at UND and St. Cloud (Minn.) State, he returned to UND as director of public relations. Dave took early retirement in 2005 after serving more than three decades. Although still often seen in Grand Forks, Dave lives in Bloomington, Minn., with his partner, Dorette Kerian. Travel and photography are now his principal interests.

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