At the Gentle Mercy
of Plants

(Nonfiction; John Daniel Publications, 1986)

I discovered Hildegarde Flanner’s book of essays and poems, At the Gentle Mercy of Plants, almost by accident, tucked as it was on a tightly packed shelf in an unpretentious used book store in St. Helena, California. I’d never heard of the author, but the title, with its subtle admonition, seduced me. I opened the little volume and read a paragraph, then the publisher’s note. I became aware that I was browsing a book store on Flanner’s soil, in one of her towns, in her state:

I have spent much of my life looking at plants. And recently it seems that plants, with sympathy, are looking at me. I wish I could get them to look the other way. It has all to do with the memories, memories of the time when southern California was different, or the world was different, and so was I.

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