November 2, 2019

  Once upon a time, I would have insisted I did not like the color orange. That now strikes me as a very silly thing to say. It’s strange to remember what strong opinions I once had: I didn’t like orange, I couldn’t understand the appeal of boring green shrubs, I thought the growing of vegetables a tedious affair (isn’t that what supermarkets are for?). But then I began to tend the soil. Now even orange flowers are an astonishing… Read more

October 19, 2019

  How’s that for a title? It’s October at Maplehurst. Most of the leaves are still on most of the trees, though they are now every shade from green to gold to fire. Before they fall and our weekends are consumed by the leaves, I will make a start on the rest of the garden cleanup. First, however, here is a bit of autumn advice: do not rake those leaves! Instead, chop them up with a lawn mower. Chopped-up leaves… Read more

October 12, 2019

  Is God in the clouds? Somewhere up above the clouds? Most of us live as if this were the case. Where is God? Out there, somewhere. Ignoring us. Oblivious of us. Angry at us. Disappointed with us. Take your pick. Those brave enough or foolish enough to seek God look for him in debates and dogmas. They hunt amongst ideas, issues, headlines. Sometimes I go that way, too, but it is difficult for a gardener to keep her head… Read more

September 21, 2019

  In the churches of my growing up, I heard admired men from shiny pulpits say, “The only things that will last are the souls of men and the Word of God.” I can’t now say that those words were wrong. I can’t say that they weren’t the right words to rattle and shake a congregation made complacent by their savings accounts and new cars. But they were the wrong words for a little girl who loved hiding high in… Read more

September 7, 2019

  When I write about cultivating glory, of course I imagine myself in the role of cultivator. I picture myself as the active one, the one doing the work, the person in control of shaping her days and shaping her life and shaping her place. Illness will knock you right off that pedestal. And illness comes to everyone now and again. * It came to me at the end of July, I was worn out by work (good work!) and… Read more

August 31, 2019

  I am writing this from the front porch at Maplehurst. I am writing this from the middle of a construction zone. For the past week, a landscape crew has been hard at work with backhoes and shovels, and the result of all that effort is what appears to be a whole lot of nothing. Quite literally: nothing. Where the hydrangeas grew, where grass grew, where my very favorite tree, a Carolina Silverbell, grew, where the peonies grew, where the children… Read more

August 27, 2019

  Our planet is always turning, always rotating around its center. But there are moments when you feel the thing you’ve always known. A few days ago, it felt to me as if our planet had shifted suddenly into some new gear or groove, and while the ground beneath my feet was unchanged, the air above was not. At Maplehurst, there is a new song in the air, and it sounds like falling leaves, a fresh breeze, soft rain. It… Read more

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

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