Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Spring Revision

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

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There is something uplifting about the early spring: crisp air and hot sun or the neon green of new grass against the grey of cooler rainy days. When I was a kid, our neighbors forsythia would burst into canary yellow blooms and in it’s shade was a small patch of vinca, a spring flowering ground cover. I loved those little purple flowers so much. I would pick a few and put them in a glass of water, then present them to my father with a sandwich for his lunch.

I knew when we moved into this house that vinca grew all over our property because there was still a flower lingering here and there, but it’s another thing all together to see our home blanketed in it. It feels right and special. I miss the gardens we’d begun at our old home – lightly neglected herbs and perennial flowers that bloomed throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Some fragrant, some colorful. But the vinca and forsythia and azaleas are enough for now. I traipsed around the yard with my oldest child this weekend, searching out these early blooming flowers, discovering the plantings around our new home. We started up the grill and I even broke out my iced tea press so you know I’m committed to this fresh, fine weather.

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Spring should be the season to review feedback — see where the revisions you’ve made have born fruit, as it were — but here I am still revising: planting the bulbs late, moving things around, hoping nothing sprouts stunted. This winter/early spring has been mostly snow and sick days. I should just give in to the fact that nothing of significance ever gets written in February in my home. But the sunshine and above freezing temperatures, the pastels and yellows and greens of April are warming me up. So! Writerly updates!

  1. I wrote a short story! And I submitted it to an anthology! And it got rejected! But that’s okay! It was about a boy and first contact with an alien shaped like a tiny pink pony and it was really fun to write and totally one hundred percent different from my novel which was a much-needed change of pace.
    1. I thought writing short stories after writing a novel would be a piece of cake. I was wrong.
    2. I really want the next big project I work on to be funny.
  2. I taught another event building workshop in March. In fact, I’m making a bit of a side business of helping authors plan and market book events. Because apparently I need more to do.
    1. When I couldn’t think of how to fix my novel, I made a website for my event coaching business. I  am now taking select clients.
    2. I have another workshop scheduled in June. You should come!
  3. I’m now doing a monthly marketing blog post for the Writer’s Loft blog, Loftings.
  4. I’ve been plugging away at revisions but it’s slow. I hit a big snag with The Month of February and then working through a really thorny chapter that had me stumped. Plus planning for my workshop. But! It goes!
  5. I read some books in January and February (highlights included Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson and the first few Company books by Kage Baker) but nothing much since. I’m currently enjoying the compilation of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto because I love J.C. and because I can read it in little pieces before bed.

I am almost through revising Part 2 of 3 so that is a good feeling. I need to go back and continue to comb through the rough, messy parts. I was so hoping this draft would be wrapped up in another month or so but it may need longer. And then reading. And probably one more draft (not sure how deep of one, hard to say).

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I have days when I swear I am not smart enough for this, that I have nothing original to say. I have days when things slot together like an elaborate line of tumblers, unlocking something deep inside the story so I can see a bit of light shining through from the end, from the place this story could be.

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A Meditation: Gardens

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Most mornings, after I drag my lazy butt out of bed, I open the backdoor and go outside to check on the garden. Each year we’ve lived in this house (almost three!) we’ve expanded our growing space. This year, in addition to our two raised beds, we added a small terraced herb garden to repurpose the small but drastic slope of the lawn down the driveway and reclaimed the space under our Norway Maple which had refused to grow, well, anything but a Norway Maple. Mostly we’re growing vegetables and herbs; lettuce, garlic, peas, strawberries (most of which were eaten by a wily chipmunk), peppers, basil, lavender, lemon balm, broccoli, tarragon, oregano, thyme, garlic chives, scallions, rosemary, sorrel, spinach. It’s an extensive list for a fairly compact space. My sister has been a huge help, letting us know what it makes sense to grow and what we should skip, why something might be succeeding while something else is failing, or when to harvest. So every morning I take my bowl of yogurt and fruit, tip toe through the dew-laden grass, and check on what’s blooming this morning. The weather, so far, as been pretty conducive. It’s been a bit rainy the past few days, and cloudy, but today the sun is out and the sky is a pale blue with a veil of cloud. I hope it stays this way all day.

I never thought I would be good at gardening… I still don’t. I read up on the plants, I plant the seeds or seedlings, I generally make sure they get watered, and then I wait and watch. It’s still so miraculous to me, watching these things grow. I’m currently growing some mixed varieties of basil in little pots inside until they are hardy enough to move outdoors. Watching the first little leaves make away for the first truly “basil-like” leaves is really cool – it’s like it sends out the first leaves to work as solar panels to get enough energy to start being, truly, “basil.” I love herbs because I love the potential of them – the way they smell, the way they spread out and take over, the idea that I could jut go out an clip a bit and add it to dinner. The fact that I don’t harvest nearly as much or as often as I could (or should?) doesn’t matter to me… it’s just such a cool and beautiful thing. I know, I know, I can dry it/freeze it/pack it in oil or vinegar. But what I love is the aliveness of it, the green, thriving, sun-seekingness of the plants that you just don’t get once they’re dried in a jar.

I’m on my back porch now staring down that goshdarn chipmunk that ate nearly all of our strawberries this year. Finally we had more than just a handful and the pesky critter decides it’ll be the perfect breakfast. I suppose I can’t be too upset. Greg’s philosophy is this: let the whole bed fill with strawberries… then there will be enough for all of us. I like that.

Gardens tend to be meditative spaces. The sound of birds, the colors, the seasons, the smell of earth and water and raw leaf, there’s a lot to get meditative about. I can see why so much poetry comes, as it were, from the earth. And sky. And weather and wind. Mother Nature presents us with perfect images: the darts of sparrows taking flight, the sandy whisper of wind through lush leaves, the way treeshadows move sharply against a house, or softly across grass. Even that wily chipmunk sinking it’s little teeth into a fresh strawberry before wiggling out through the netting. I’ve grown up in suburbia and still live in a suburb and I’ve learned I have to take and love my nature where I can. So though I’m sure my suburban streets covered in a canopy of maple leaves, the smell of freshly cut grass, and the sunsets over the neighboring house can’t compare to nature in the country or on the shore or (as I know from personal experience) up in Maine or in the Southwest or any number of places, I don’t mind. I don’t try to compare it. I simply enjoy it for what it is… my little patch of earth in the middle of town, bird calls mingling with train whistles and traffic. But still: the hush of wind, the bitter smell of tomato leaves, the prickling crumble of dry earth.

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