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.

the things of spring

Tulips:

Peas:

Lettuce:

and baby feet:

What’s going on in your gardens this spring (or autumn, for my Aussie friend!)?

of things domestic

Yes, I know this is a writing blog, but you really are not all that interested in my revision angst or my sullen moping about what an untalented hack I am.

Instead I give you:

Bread! Since we got back from Florida I’ve baked bread three times. We haven’t had to buy a single preservatives-stuffed loaf from the grocery store. Hooray!

Chocolate cake! I haven’t made a chocolate cake from scratch so long, I’d almost forgotten the primary purpose of cake pans is not to heat frozen convenience foods in. This was a double layer chocolate cake with homemade frosting. Mmmm.

Also continuing with the yummy food trend, I made those chocolate chip scones twice and crepes with strawberries and maple syrup for lunch one day.

Gardening! The kids and I walked down to town and bought sugar snap peas, bush green beans, lettuce mix, carrots, tomatoes and (due entirely to the persistence of Sir I.) pumpkins. I planted four rows of peas, two squares of lettuce and one square of carrots. I have never had luck with carrots, so this is one of those hopeless long shot sort of things. I also started digging up a place for the pumpkins. I found a cool tool that tells me what to plant when, hopefully cutting down on my Indifferent Gardener tendency to kill my plants.

On the other hand, my house looks like three hurricanes have torn through it—make that two hurricanes and one slowly-creeping glacier since the baby is just scooching, not crawling. I’m behind on laundry and every flat surface (including, darnit, the poor piano) is buried under a blizzard of paper.

What cosy domestic activities have you been up to?

spring

A week ago, I cleared off last year’s leaves and assorted debris from my garden beds and discovered, to my delighted surprise, tulips!:

Now, granted, these are not surprise plants. I made a bed and planted the bulbs (with the aid of enthusiastic children) last fall. But they still feel like a gift to me. The labor to plant them is long-forgotten, the winter has been long and the snow deep, and it’s hard to believe that after sleeping under that white coverlet for so many months, they would uncurl and stretch up towards the sun. Yet here they are.

Funny how so much gestation and growth happens in the dark, in the hidden places, in the dry times where nothing seems to be happening. Then, look, here is spring and all those small sleepy things have become green growing things.

Sorta like stories.

How are all your gardens doing?