August 3, 2019

  I should call them the hydrangeas of astonishment. This summer hardly anyone visits us at Maplehurst without saying, “These hydrangeas! Have they always been here? Have they always been so tall?” They haven’t always been here. I planted them myself a handful of years ago. They haven’t always been so tall. Time is as necessary an ingredient in the garden as sunshine and water. Each summer the hydrangeas spread their roots a little deeper and stretch their limbs a… Read more

July 20, 2019

It’s a wonderful thing to step into a place someone else has prepared for you. Last night, it was my pleasure to help celebrate the release of Shawn Smucker’s beautiful new novel Light From Distant Stars. I read from my own recent book Placemaker, Shawn read the first few evocative pages of his novel, and we shared a conversation about life and death, gardens and stories. But conversations like that, and gatherings like this one, don’t occur in a vacuum. They are embodied,… Read more

July 6, 2019

  I do not love July, but I appreciate its drama. We wake to fog and air so wet and dense I wonder if I could squeeze it, perhaps ring it out like an old bath towel. The afternoons reverberate with thunder, but we’ve become so accustomed to it we no longer hear it. It has become like the airplane overhead or the garbage truck lumbering down the road. When we open the back door and find rain streaming down… Read more

June 29, 2019

  Around here, summer began with a long-anticipated trip followed by a week of jet-lag. But even jet-lag has gifts to give: gifts like daily encounters with the summer sunrise and blurry-eyed evenings where rocking, slowly, on the front porch feels like the only possible thing to do. For three evenings in a row, I was there, in a rocking chair on the front porch as deer nosed their way around the corner of the house. That first night, I… Read more

June 8, 2019

  I live in the ordinary dull-gray world of sibling squabbles, broken air-conditioners, flower-eating garden pests, and forgotten dentist appointments, with their companion fines. Of course I do. But kneeling in my garden with purple catmint waving and blooming over my head, it seems–for a moment–as if I live in a rainbow-tinted world of magic and wonder and deeply-rooted happiness. That’s the power of perspective, isn’t it? Change your point of view and some good gift becomes available that wasn’t… Read more

June 1, 2019

  It is the first day of June, and I can feel spring rolling into summer. The air seems heavier, the sunlight more sharp. Afternoon thunderstorms pop like fireworks: quick and fierce and gone in a blink. The seasons for watching and waiting, planting and hoping have been fulfilled, and their fulfillment tastes like warm strawberries, cold lemonade, peppery basil on the pizzas we make each and every Friday night. In fact, I am typing this out quickly before dashing… Read more

May 28, 2019

  Toward the end of our Memorial Day gathering, I walked with a few friends down the long length of our driveway. We used our cellphones as flashlights, but when the little child in our midst pointed out the very first firefly of the season, we turned off our phones. At first we paused, the way forward lost in total darkness, but soon more fireflies, the neighbor’s sporadic fireworks, and the glow of a thunderstorm on the horizon softened the… Read more

May 21, 2019

  It only lasted a moment but what a moment. And how near I came to missing it. * Seven a.m. is rush hour in my kitchen on a weekday morning. Perhaps it’s the same in your home? It is not the hour for stopping to smell the roses. I’ve learned–through trial and error–that it isn’t even the time for a bit of devotional reading or prayer with my kids. We save that for the dinner table. It is the… Read more

May 14, 2019

  Spring is my personal harvest season. The plans I made last summer, the bulbs I buried in the fall, the hopes I nurtured over winter, are yielding their harvest now. It is a harvest of ‘White Triumphator’ tulips followed by ‘White Giant’ alliums in the flower garden and roses climbing near the kitchen door and over the chicken coop. It is the dangling white bells of the Carolina Silverbell tree I planted near the porch on the eastern side… Read more

May 7, 2019

  May is my favorite month in the garden. The late daffodils and tulips are still hanging on, the trees and grass are fully green, and everything else–from peonies to roses–is all set to burst into summer bloom. It isn’t like that moment of almost frenzied anticipation that arrives just at the end of winter. This moment is sweeter, lovelier, and it lingers. * But this isn’t my first May in the garden here at Maplehurst, and I am keenly… Read more

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