I’ve been sitting/working/reading on the back deck for days watching the hydrangeas bloom. Every day there are a few more flowers in pink, pale blue, deep blue, or almost purple. A few are multicolored. Today I thought about “The Field of Blue Children” by Tennessee Williams. Oftentimes books and stories remind me of my own experiences — places, people, feelings — but occasionally a place, person, feeling — or flower? — reminds me of a book or story. Such was the case today, so I set out to find the book with the story.
I read “The Field of Blue Children” many years ago but couldn’t recall where (in which book) I’d read it. I don’t own a collection of Tennessee Williams short stories, so I must have read it in one of my anthologies, and I have a bazillion anthologies. I searched the shelves with no luck.
However, the search did make for an eventful afternoon. I came across Short Stories from the New Yorker, published in 1940, with “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses” by Irwin Shaw and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber. In another book, titled Short Stories of America, I discovered a story by one Mary Murfree titled “Taking the Blue Ribbon at the County Fair” about the “mountaineers of Appalachia” and made a mental note to come back to it later.
And there was the O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1943 with Eudora Welty‘s “Livvie is Back” and the wonderful “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud” by Carson McCullers. On the Contents page I noticed a story (and author) I didn’t recognize, but knew at once that I must read — “The Fishermen of Patzcuaro” by William Fifield. Patzcuaro is a lovely little mountain town in Mexico surrounded by villages that haven’t changed much since the 1800s. A few years back a friend and I stayed at an inn in another Mexican hill town and the owner of the inn, an American artist, had fallen in love with the Patzcuaro trojes (tiny houses similar to the log cabins being built in the US at that time) and purchased the 140+-year-old house. She had it moved and reconstructed in the gardens at the inn.
Anyway, the story about the Patzcuaro fishermen caught my eye and I turned to the first page. It begins like this: “The Syrian waved away the woman with the flat, jellylike slabs of candy.” How could I not put that aside to read?
So…I’m pulling books off the shelves, stirring up dust, sneezing, and searching the Contents pages for “The Field of Blue Children” with no luck when I discover a pile of peanuts on the shelf behind one stack of old books. Peanuts? Mice! There must be a mouse in the house as no two-legged creature would stash peanuts behind a row of books on the bookshelf. Besides, a couple of months ago I discovered sunflower seeds (from my birdseed container in the garage) piled in the corner of one of the bureau drawers in the bedroom! In the ensuing weeks we captured one mouse, found another dead in the sunflower seed container, and caught a third scaling the side of the house (outside). For years we had cats, so mice were not a concern. Nary a mouse set foot in the house. But now we have a choice — a cat or a trap.
I’m still looking for the “blue children” and enjoying the blue flowers.