This image from my Pinterest Board, is called Japanese Lanterns. This is Luther Emerson van Gorders’ famous painting (American (1861 – 1931) It has long been a favorite of mine. These little girls, floating through the garden in their charming white dresses, appear to be helping hang the Japanese lanterns. In my imagination, I have named the older child, Madeline after my mother, and I think of the younger little girl as Evelyn; two beautiful old fashion names.
The painting is full of nostalgia. I can hear the crickets chirping and see the fire flies blinking around the edges of the garden that surround the enclosure where the lanterns are being placed. It is summer 1909 and a family will soon gather for fried chicken and potato salad on the fourth of July. The children’s aunts and uncles will arrive bringing them each sparklers that the girls can light, chasing each other through the garden.
The lanterns we hang in our gardens today come from Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel, unless you are lucky enough to still have the large paper Japanese lanterns your parents used. But once the light begins to retreat from the garden, lanterns hung there still bring magic and charm as one by one they are lit. We revisit our childhood memories of white dresses down to our ankles, bare feet and fireflies.