What’s in our little golden-brown jug?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has been my favorite book since childhood. My beloved, dog-eared edition belonged to my maternal grandmother, a 1943 printing that I have read countless times. I’ve read it to my children and given copies of the book to my nieces and friends.
The central character of Betty Smith’s book, Francie Nolan, is an avid reader who plans to read every book in her local library in alphabetical order. Every Saturday, she goes to the library to treat herself to a book out of alphabetical order, based on the librarian’s recommendation.
Upon entering the library each week, her eyes go immediately to the little golden-brown pottery jug on the librarian’s desk: It was an indicator of the season, holding holly at Christmastime, pussy willow in the spring, nasturtiums in hot August:
“When I get big,” she thought, “… I’ll have a desk like this … a row of shining yellow pencils always sharpened for writing and a golden-brown bowl with a flower or some leaves or berries always in it and books … books … books. …”
Many years later and far away from Brooklyn, where I lived in the late 1980s, I have placed a golden-brown jug in the Blue Owl Library. What makes it truly local to Loužnice, though, is the material it holds. Because the Blue Owl Library is located in Bohemian glass country and directly in the former offices of a prewar glassmaking business, our jug holds a seasonally changing bouquet of glass: blueberries in the summer, rosehips in the fall, holly in wintertime — all made by local glass artist and friend Marcela Ružičková.
Blue Owl Library will be delighted to lend you Betty’s Smith’s classic coming-of-age story, either in English or Czech.