Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Synchronicity In The Creative Process

 I’ve written about it before, many times in various places, how the creative process opens up to synchronicity if one pays attention and lets it happen.

Last night while editing a novel chapter I was reading the words Blackhawks and Pave Lows when a Blackhawk flew by overhead. What a charge of energy that moment gave to the editing process, and fueled me working on late into the night. 

I’m editing a novel that has been sitting complete for several years. It’s a novel I love, but for whatever reason I moved on to other work and yesterday I dove back in to this novel’s world. We’ll see where this editing journey takes us.

This view from the writer’s kitchen helps:

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Much Needed Writing Time In Process


It’s been a very long time since I was here at Weymouth Center For the Arts and Humanities as a writer in residence, and I’m absolutely relishing this week of time to dig in with my writing projects. It’s beautiful and quiet and I have no chores to do. No interruptions. Pure creative time.

I almost always come here with a project to finish, a self-imposed deadline, and a burning fever to “get it done.” This trip I made the decision to come with nothing on a list, no plan of action, but just me, my work, and the time to dip in and out of the various projects in a whimsical way. 

Today I submitted two short pieces, redesigned my submission journal pages for a better ease of use, and who knows what I’ll do next as I move into the afternoon. 

I’m not sure if this is my own aging process kicking in, lending its wisdom to the writing process, or if the pandemic has pushed me to view things differently. Surely some combination of the two. But it feels nice to be here letting the time and space guide me to what feels like the next right thing.

Whether or not you can go on a retreat like this, find some time and a place to be where you can retreat from the daily routine, even if just half an hour, and let yourself open up to creative thinking or other creative pursuits. It’s a gift we can give ourselves if we choose to do so. And it’s easy to forget in our busy lives how valuable this is for our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Go on, schedule a half hour, or an afternoon. If you can take a weekend or a full week, do it. This is the kind of thing that doesn’t just happen. You have to put it into your life. 

Do it. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 81: whorled milkweed

 Today I added in more pink/swamp milkweed, butterfly weed, and a new variety, whorled milkweed. I have an entire strip alongside the front walkway now that will be filled with milkweed come spring. I can’t wait to see it!

The whorled milkweed is a pale pale pinkish white and it will be lovely along with the deep pink and bright orange of the other varieties. But the main thing is that it will help the butterfly larva and keep the beauties coming to November Hill. 


Friday, October 22, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 140

 We are moving on into autumn here and have (mostly) switched the herd to being out during the day and in at night, though Keil Bay has been asking to do his own version of this and we are letting him create his own custom turn-out this fall season.

He’s doing well, just had his acupuncture and Legend injection with his interim vet and a vet intern. These two are also young women vets who seem to really love their work and they enjoyed meeting him and hearing a few Keil Bay stories. He was a gentleman and was very appreciative of the acupuncture. 

In other news, we have a new hoof trimmer, which is a long story but in a nutshell the previous trimmer exploded at Keil during his trim in September and resigned 5 days later. We need someone who is strong enough to do this hard work, can do it in a time frame so that senior horses and even younger ones are not kept standing for long periods of time, and most of all, we need someone who is cheerful, feels good, enjoys the equines here, and would never explode in a tirade of curse words at any equine, ever. I’d say that is asking for perfection, but honestly, in all the years we’ve lived with equines, I’ve never had any professional behave that way, period, so it was time for someone new.

We had a wonderful trim day with the new trimmer this week and are all very happy to be moved on. It seems none of them were getting trimmed properly, mostly just not enough toe being taken off and a lot of unneeded focus on cutting the sole. Everyone looks great and I’m very happy with how it went.

We’re still working on getting the mountain house up and running. It’s going to take another month or so I think but we’ve made a good start. We’ve met the immediate neighbors and gotten to know them a bit, and are very fortunate that they’re super nice people and eager to be helpful to us in any way they can. We never expected that but how wonderful to find it! Apparently there’s a trail through the new land that is spectacular in the springtime, so we’re aiming for a big walk together when we get through the winter and see the spring bloom up there. 

For now the fall color is in full swing and I’m going to be up there soon to enjoy it. 

I’m happy that I put a moratorium on myself with regards to adding anything else to my calendar this season. I have a couple of therapy workshops and my ongoing writing workshop, and I’m enjoying these things all the more now that I’m not swamped with stuff going on. This isn’t rocket science, as they say, but sometimes I really do behave as if I’m Hermione in Harry Potter, able to be in two places at once, taking care of multiple to do lists. It’s been so nice to slow down and just do things in a more laid-back manner.

I’m going to be writer-in-residence soon, which means a week away to focus on writing, and that too will be delicious and savored this year especially. 

It’s a gorgeous day, with dogwoods changing color, a few other trees coming close to that, and a lovely blue sky. Horses in their pasture, or barnyard, as is the case with Keil Bay, dogs sleeping in the living room, and nothing on my schedule. 

Happy autumn, everyone!

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 80: sassafras

 Today I’ve put in a couple of sassafras trees in an open area of Poplar Folly. Since they’re not as large as tulip poplars, oaks, and maples, they’re a good fit for the space and will create a sub-story layer on the sloping ground.

They’re good for wildlife, insects, and are larval hosts for several butterfly species, and they have interesting leaves and fall color. Win-win-win-win, right? And of course they’re NC natives.

Sassafras is what is used to flavor root beer, so gosh, maybe I’ll try that some year when I’m bored and have nothing else to do. (Small joke)


Monday, October 18, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 79: axillary goldenrod

 This is a smaller goldenrod that is less likely to spread, can take some shade, and supports many insects and birds, as well as other wildlife. It has a much different look to it than the usual goldenrod species, and I’ve added it to the center of my shady bed along the driveway in hopes that it will get just enough afternoon sun to keep it happy. 

I’ve tried to fill in this bed this fall, as I started it a couple of years ago and then got busy with other spaces. At this point I have:

White wood aster

Common blue wood aster

Wild ginger

Oak leaf hydrangea

Cutleaf coneflower

Axillary goldenrod

There are a couple more things in my staging area that will likely join these plants in the original shade bed, so stay tuned. 


More Cutleaf (green-headed) Coneflower!

 I put this in the potager last spring where it gets a fair amount of sun, and it’s done well out there. In a botanical garden course this summer I learned it can tolerate shade, which made me think to try it in the shade bed for something taller and a pop of yellow, and in the bird haven for the same effect and color. 

I’ve put a couple in the shade bed - the ones in the potager are quite large now - and I have four more to go in the bird haven area. If they do well they will prove themselves to be a truly versatile coneflower! 

In addition to the flowers, these have very distinctive and lovely foliage, so lots to enjoy about them.

Butterflies and songbirds, especially the goldfinches, love them.


What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 78: common blue wood aster

 I love the white wood aster in the shady bed along the driveway and wanted more asters to fill in the space, so I was happy to find common blue wood aster on the botanical garden sale list this fall. These asters that are shade loving can get weedy and I’ve seen that with the white wood aster - but if you pinch it back some it will get more upright and bushy. It’s taken me a couple of years to learn that lesson! But you can see the difference when you do it and it makes for a lovely bed plant.

It also gives pollinator insects much needed variety in fall forage.

These are very delicate flowers and so very pretty!


What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 77: passionflower vine (or maypop)

 I’ve been looking for something native to replaced the clematis at the corner of the front porch. The clematis produces a deep burgundy flower and while I like it okay, I’ve never seen an insect go to it for pollen or nectar, so it’s not doing its job in the pollinator bed it’s in.

It has never really climbed profusely where it is, so I’m not sure it’s in the best growing space. It came out and the native passionflower vine has gone in. This vine has very fancy flowers in a pale lavender color that bees go crazy for, and the fruits are food for various kinds of wildlife. I think I read that box turtles like the fruit (or am I thinking of May apple?)

In any case, the passionflower is installed and come spring we’ll see if it likes its new space, with a lot of sun and a trellis to climb.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 76: Carolina allspice or sweet shrub

 I’ve put a couple of these in my shady driveway bed, in back to provide a backdrop to the flowering plants up front. They are pollinator plants and have deep maroon flowers that will be a nice thing to see both looking out the windows on that side of the house, as well as driving in and out from the garage. I’m hoping they do well in this shady area that can also get some water when we have a lot of rain.


What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 75: spicebush

 I’ve gotten behind again on updating the plantings for this fall. I put in two spicebush plants in the bird haven area - there were a couple of bayberries along the inner fence line that didn’t like it there and died, presumably because the rainwater creek was too much for them. Spicebush will tolerate that just fine, so I’m trying them there and we’ll see. 

They’re great for birds offering both food and shelter and are a host plant for a species of swallowtail butterflies. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do. 


Tuesday, October 05, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 139

 Playing catch up with the native plantings here, as we had some busy days and my routine got messed up a bit. I have my vines and shrubs left to go and then there is one more batch that I’ll be getting in later this month.

However, I did have a moment this weekend to snap a quick photo of the corner of the oldest of the native pollinator beds I’ve put in. This one is three years old and has really come together well.

This is the fall bloom in this corner. I love how things are intermingling and the textures are varied. I planned some of this, and some volunteered here - the blue mist front and center - and overall I’m very happy with it.

We’ve had some rain today and more to come so my watering is taken care of for all the newly-planted things. A nice gift for the week. 

In other news we have closed and started moving furniture into the mountain house, and learned yesterday that our back-up offer on the adjoining 175 acres is now the primary offer. We should be closing on that in a couple of weeks. I’m very happy that this worked out this way. The land was in immediate danger of being developed, and it’s too beautiful for that to happen. It’s nestled in among thousands of acres of protected land and now it too will be protected. 

It’s October! I’m barely able to believe it but here we are, entering my most favorite season of the year. May it be a good season for us all. We need it, for sure.