signs of spring

* crocuses in bloom

* lilies, irises and tulips sending up their shoots

* strawberry plants put out their leaves and vigorously (re)taking over their bed

*  buds on the willow and the lilacs

* exchanging winter coats for fleeces and rain jackets

* lots of planning for *next* year’s school (which is, of course, much more interesting than what we’re doing right now)

How’s the change of the seasons where you are?

garden update

Not much is going on the garden right now. I dug up the pea plants and the lettuce since their time was over. I have green beans flowering and producing:

and some teeny weeny tomatoes:

I’m still dealing with slugs but this late in the game, I may have to declare a truce. I’d like to go all scorched-earth on them, but I don’t fancy salting my soil and burning my plants in order to do that. There’s always next year, and a better defensive strategy. Each year I garden, I learn a little bit more.

These are not growing in my garden, but you know how I can never resist pretty flowers!

Five Things for a Writer to do in the Great Outdoors

I admit it: I’m a homebody. A lazy couch potato. A sedentary slug-like life form. If it weren’t for my children, I’d happily spend my days tapping away on my laptop, reading in the rocking chair, or doodling at the dining table. Nature? I can enjoy it from the window, thanks. If I lean to the right, peer over the neighbor’s rooftop, I have a mountain view–a small blue-grey slice of New Hampshire.

But since I have squirrelly children who need to be taken out to burn off energy (when, oh when, are they going to create the first child-powered batteries?), I’ve learned to enjoy (and cope with) the great outdoors. Along the way, I’ve discovered that yes, being outside is a help to my writing, a boost to my creativity. Here’s how:

1. Enjoy the sun: We in the Northeast have learned to get soak up as much sunshine as we can. Not only does the summer sun builds up those reserves ofVitamin D, it also clears away the cobwebs of doubt and discouragement crowding my head. All those negative thoughts shrivel away like little vampires. Its a lot harder to wallow in gloom and self-pity with the sun beaming down upon me.

2. Dig in the dirt: Ah, yes, my yearly spring fling with gardening. Not only does it give me something productive to do while the kids are off digging holes in the ground or making hay out of grass clippings, but the process of gardening–the preparing of the soil, weeding and watering, the waiting and transplanting–serve as a good reminder that creation takes time. That all seeds and stories need incubation, before they burst into bloom and fruit. Patience is a skill important for both gardeners and novelists.

3. Get exercise: The dreaded ‘e’ word. I hate exercising for exercising’s sake (you’ll never catch me on a treadmill unless I was getting paid for it), but pair exercising with a chance to window shop, gawk at the neighbors’ renovations, take pictures of plant life, chat with my husband and tire out my kids, and I’m all for it. Sometimes getting those leg muscles going is just the thing my brain needs to start those mental gears whirring.

4. Study my surroundings. Grass is green. Bark is rough. Rain patters. Sure, we all know that. We’ve read the books, seen the pictures, maybe even walked through the grass and past the trees on the way to somewhere else. But take the time to actually sit in the grass, study the texture of bark, and listen to the rain. Rain doesn’t just patter–it hisses and sizzles, too. The corpses of birch trees are mummified in their own smooth papery bark. Stubbly grass prickles underfoot. This year I’m getting a lot of interaction with slugs. Not my preferred nature experience, but I imagine they’ll crawl into a story or two soon.

5. Build a fairy house. What this has to do with writing, I’m not sure–maybe I can make some analogy to plotting, perhaps??–but hey, it’s fun to do. Not everything has to funnel into writing, right? Right?

oh, ew, ew, ew. slugs.

Slugs. In my lettuce. I never realized how many there were until I went picking this evening. *shudder* And they’ve already made raids on the tomatos I transplanted several days ago.

Okay, no more Ms. Nice Squeamish Gal. This means war.