Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Hello, spring!

Hello! It has been quite a long while since I last posted (six months!). Sometimes I am too busy with family obligations to write, and sometimes being on the internet depletes my spirit, but even in the best of times my natural tendency is to retreat to my garden, my books and little projects, and to keep my own quiet company. In 2018, I wrote only eleven posts--not a lot, but something. I have thought about closing my blog, and I have thought about posting more often. All I can say is, time will tell which way the wind blows.
Spring in New England is three parts silvery rain and one part cornflower skies and sunshine. I always forget this ratio in the middle of winter when I am dreaming about sunny days in the garden: pansy days,  strawberry days, lily and rose days. πŸŒΌπŸ“  When the snow is swirling and the wind is biting, the imagination can only be decorated with blue skies and flowers. The guinea pigs, Honey and Blossom, imagine their cage is a parsley patch and dream of blueberries.
Today is cold and mizzling and of the kind that makes my joints and head ache. I had to go out anyway, because I made plans to do my Easter shopping (sunny days, at this time of year, are best saved for walks in the woods and gardening). I bought some lovely chocolates beautifully wrapped in foil and a few little gifts to put in my kids' Easter baskets--kids who are grown-ups now; the oldest is twenty-six, and the baby is almost thirteen!

My entire stack of books, at the moment, revolves around a single theme: gardening. I love every one of these titles and am reading them all concurrently--a little in this one and a little in that one each day. The Solitary Summer is Elizabeth von Arnim's second book. It was sent to me by a dear friend and I love it every bit as much as Elizabeth's first book, Elizabeth and Her German Garden. Both books are written in the style of journal entries and are considered to be autobiographical novels. The books are full of Elizabeth's gorgeous descriptions of her garden, as well as insightful, witty, social commentary that is still relevant today. (She is also the author of The Enchanted April.). I absolutely adore Elizabeth. But I am obsessed with Beatrix Potter.

And that is a topic for a future blog post. :)

In March I started crocheting this "neat ripples" afghan. I worked on it madly for a couple of weeks, but then the gardening books stole my attention, and also the Spanish television series "Grand Hotel", which (for me) requires reading subtitles, and the blanket has halted at half-done like so many of my other yarn-y projects.
This guy showed up at my feeder this morning wearing half winter and half spring plumage--much like my own wardrobe just now. I'm sure I look just as funny as he!

The kittens are almost a year and a half old now and still very playful and kittenish. This one is Rhys. He has the more serious and dominant personality. His eyes are brown, and he likes to curl up in a lap of an evening. Both cats have more than one nickname. We call Rhys "Squish" because he's squishably soft and goes limp when you hold him.

This is Wyatt, aka "Stripes", and "Wild Herb" (a play on the name Wyatt Earp). Wyatt is very sweet and affectionate. He is great friends with our boxer Presley and will curl up with him in the sunshine in front of the sliding glass door in the morning. His eyes are green. Both cats have four white socks.

We went for a few walks in the winter woods last month.  

As we walked through the Pine Forest, we were thrilled to hear the hoo-hoo-hoo-hooaawww of a barred owl calling from the top of a tall pine. I'm not sure if it was one of the babies from last spring, or one of the parents, but we were so pleased to get another glimpse of this magnificent bird.

One day in March, we went to the beach up in Gloucester.  Everything was winter gray: sand, sky, and water.

The tide was as far out as I've ever seen it--we walked and walked.

With the sandbar exposed, we got close to the lighthouse!

Back at home, we saw some gorgeous sunsets over the last few weeks, of an intensity I usually associate with October.

These two rascals make it very hard to keep the bird feeders filled. But they sure are cute, aren't they?

I loved this book so much that I renamed my blog in honor of it. ♥  

Six months have passed, but as you can see, things are mostly unchanged in my little world. Every day is different yet the same, and now it is springtime once again. :)

Recently, someone asked me if I am having a good Lent. Well, if  I'm honest, I've never cared much for Lent. Late winter/early spring is a difficult season for me, physically and mentally, and forty days of forced suffering is truly beyond me. Besides, I have never found that giving up the things I enjoy has increased my Faith, Love, or Thanksgiving; it has, however, added to my misery (and I am convinced that the kindest thing we can offer our loved ones on a daily basis is our cheerful presence). So, I am continuing to learn to trust God completely, and to give Him thanks always and everywhere for everything, and to be of good cheer. 

Wishing you all the delights of spring!

Love and roses,


  1. I made a few ripple afghans many years ago, and we still have them;I enjoyed the process. A friend two towns over had a barred owl in her yard! She also got great photos. Here's an article: Good luck with your blogging hopes. :)

    1. Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for commenting and for the link to the barred owl article--very interesting! I've noticed a LOT of chipmunks around during the last year, so I do wonder if the rodent population is down or up. We actually had a barred owl land in one of the trees in our backyard one night this winter, but it was dark, so we could only see it's shape. It perched for about twenty minutes and then left.

      I know I WILL finish my afghan this year. I enjoy crocheting, and I love how the blanket is turning out.♥

  2. I'm not a fan of Lent either. It doesn't help that our priest is doom and gloom during it and how we are not doing enough....So glad you are doing well and living life fully!!!

    1. Hi Karen! Thank you for commenting.♥ I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has a hard time with Lent!

  3. i did not know of von arnim's gardening, and should like to see the book about it. and i have not read her second book... need to look forit. beatrix potter is one of my favourites as well. how much sadder childhood would have been without her books. an interesting life, as well.

    not being christian, i don't do lent, but after K-12 in catholic schools, i am very familiar with it. personally, i don't feel like the divine is honoured in privation, but more in gratitude. maybe we should make lent about giving up wasteful ways and unecological practices instead of giving up sweeties or whatever... besides, i've always been amused by those (we all know one) who "keep the lenten fast" by saying, "oh, it's friday; i cannot have meat. i'll have the lobster thermador or shrimp scampi!" ��

    love the kitty pics, and oh, the owl! so beautiful.

    1. Hi Ann, thank you so much for commenting.♥ I love reading your thoughts about things.

      I like what you wrote about Lent. As you pointed out, acts of devotion or piety are meaningless if they aren't practiced in a spirit of gratitude and love. The Judeo-Christian scriptures are full of references of God desiring thanksgiving/gratitude rather than some other kind of sacrifice.

      _Elizabeth and her German Garden_ was von Arnim's first book and published simply under the name "Elizabeth". It was a runaway bestseller. Both _Elizabeth and Her German Garden_ and _The Solitary Summer_ are in Public Domain and available on Project Gutenberg.

      Yesterday I checked out Beatrix Potter's Journal--which she wrote in secret code between the ages of fourteen and thirty--from the library. I find everything about her utterly captivating; she was surely a genius.

  4. so very lovely to see you here!! I'm so glad I logged in today!! xoxoxo

    1. Hello, dear Magpie! It has been a l o n g, dark, wet spring, but I am beginning to emerge from my cocoon. I owe you a letter and hope to put pen to paper soon.♥ xo

  5. Sue, I was just now trying to read your old blog at Bird and String -- I think that was you? -- and eventually tracked you down to your New England garden :-), and I'm so happy. I hope you find more time to write an occasional blog post, because they are a joy to read. But I truly understand the need to be always assessing what is the best use of our time, maybe especially when we have more of it and are tempted to be inattentive.

    I'm interested in your gardening books! I have never enjoyed books about gardening, because in my climate there is always work in the actual garden that can be done, which is more pleasurable and satisfying than reading about it. But recently I did read Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively, one that you might like to add to your stack ;-) It was so nourishing to me. She mentions Von Arnim; now I can't remember if I read both of the first two books by Von Arnim that you mention, or if only one, which one! That's because it was during a time when because of my husband's illness and death my reading habits were uniquely strange. But The Enchanted April I did read a couple of years ago, and it was purely good for me in so many ways, I listen to it still during the nights when I am inexplicably lying awake. I know it so well now that it doesn't matter if I fall asleep and miss parts!

    I hope by now you are able to be out in your own garden a little bit and accumulating stories for your own retelling. God bless you and your family!

    1. Hi Gretchen, thank you so much for your lovely, lovely comment. It truly made my day. Yes, that was me at Bird and String. I'm so glad you remembered me. I have moved my blog twice since then--which seems really silly, but I had good reasons for hopping around at the time. Now, I am "here" and hope to remain in this space for a while and write more posts soon.

      It has been a long, cool, wet spring in New England, but I have managed to do quite a lot of work out in my garden despite how such weather affects my health and mood. In the last week, the temperature finally warmed, and we've had some brilliant days of sunshine. Yesterday, I bravely planted out my dahlias and tomatoes.:)

      Thank you for recommending Penelope Lively's _Life in the Garden_ . I have placed it on my book list and will look for it later in the year (when the snow flies again). It will be good medicine for me, as gardening books truly saved my sanity this winter. I haven't read The Enchanted April yet, but I plan to get to it this summer. I have heard wonderful things about it from many people, and I love Elizabeth von Arnim.

      Thank you again for taking the time to write such a kind note. God bless you and your family! ♥