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A good-sized pile of weeds for this early in the year and the hoe that helped dig them out.

I don’t know anyone that likes weeding. It’s back-breaking, necessary work. Sure, there’s some satisfaction in a weed-free garden bed but it’s short-lived. The weeds are back almost immediately, it seems.

So today was weed the garden beds day. I didn’t get them all weeded – I only managed to weed two of them. It was overcast, which is good weeding weather, and it had to be done.

And it’s fine. Pulling weeds from around the lettuce and knowing I’d be eating it in a salad later created a sense of calm and purpose. I took a break around noon, cut enough lettuce to fill a big colander, pulled a couple of radish, and came in to enjoy a nourishing lunch. It’s the most basic luxury to have to pay attention to when it rains (or doesn’t) and to know that aside from the nutrients in the soil there’s just water and sunshine in your food. And no plastic waste.

young swiss chard and pepper plants in the near bed, cutting lettuce behind it, beets and asparagus in the rear.

Back to weeding… I always joke with my husband that grass only grows where I don’t want it to. It never seems happy to grow on the designated lawn area, it much prefers my garden and our driveway.

Other “weeds” – verbena, squash, and tomato that self seeded, were spared. It’s tough to pull plants I’ve actually bought/planted just because they are growing in an inopportune spot. I dug out some verbena and put them in a spot near the kitchen window where I can watch the monarch butterflies visit their vivid purple flowers this summer. And the squash and tomatoes… I have a suspicion the squash is actually pumpkins. Last year they took over the garden because I felt bad pulling them out. In the end they crowded out the butternut squash, which I won’t let happen twice.

wildflowers in the west field

And then there are the pretty weeds, like the wildflowers that grow in our fields. These pretty daisy-like flowers pictured above, buttercups, purple, red, and blue flowers… we mow around them.

I’ll leave you with a photo of our cat, who really enjoys watching all of the activity at the birdhouse you can see pictured. It is nestled in a giant beast of a climbing hydrangea that has taken over one wall of our garage and is adjacent to a raspberry patch that is trying to take over the west field. Smudge (the cat) may be aware that there is a nest with baby birds … and the constant coming and going is the parents feeding their little ones. Or maybe not.

I always wonder what our cats are thinking.

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May in New England is Heaven

Lilacs nodding in the sun

Many would say that the months between and including December and April are too damn cold in New England. On most days I am among those people, saying to anyone who will listen that New England is no place to age.

But then May comes.

Along with the trees bursting to life in bright spring green, pink, white, red and yellow, the lilacs appear. For a couple of weeks the air is fragrant with them. Lilly of the valley perfume the air at night, a sweet, haunting, beautiful scent. And (where applicable) strawberry flowers open delicate white petals to the new sun.

Strawberry flowers

And the forget-me-nots, chives with their globes of purple flowers, bleeding hearts– all of this after the famous bulbs. It’s like having a baby – you forget the pain of childbirth when you hold a baby in your arms. A similar thing happens here in May. The discomfort of winter fades and softens, replaced by wonder, joy and pleasure. Also lettuce, snap peas, radishes and rhubarb. 🙂


As I write this I’m sitting on the porch listening to crickets. The last of the day’s light illuminates the sky in periwinkle-gray, the trees make dark silhouettes and the last intrepid birds are still singing — calling home family members that have stayed out too long, perhaps. A flash of pink lightening in the sky.

Pretty heavenly.

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When the kids were small we learned our son had allergies to pretty much everything – except, miraculously, to dogs.  

So we decided to adopt a dog from a shelter, and began searching.  We found it harder to find what we were looking for – a puppy – than we imagined we would but eventually we zeroed in on a litter of roley poley looking spotted dogs sheltered in upstate new york.  The family piled into the car and we drove there to see them.  The kids, of course, were expecting to return with a new family member and truth be told, so were we. 

We arrived and met the woman we’d spoken with via email.  After greetings and a exchanging remarks on a few process details, we went into the kennel.  The puppies were sweet and the kids were enchanted.  Meanwhile, I noticed another dog – leggier than the puppies, huddled in a corner a few feet away.  His fur was black, entirely black, and he was somewhere between puppy-hood and young-adulthood.  I went over to look at him.  Seeing me, he scrambled out the trap door that lead outside to where he could relieve himself.  

I asked Jen, our host, about the dog.  “That’s Jackie.  He’s not up for adoption.”  

“Why?” I asked.  

“He’s anti-social.  He has worms, and we’ve been taking him home with us to see if we can rehab him but I think we’ll probably put him down.”  

My heart sank.  

“Can we meet him?”  

She hesitated.  “I guess there’s no harm.”  She opened up his kennel and we walked out to his outdoor area, the kids trailing.  Jackie was curled up in a corner, eyeing us warily.   

“This is what I mean.  He’s always like this.”   

Jackie was thin, and his coat was rough looking.  “How old is he?” I asked.   

“Three months,” said Jen.   

I felt terrible for him.  I walked toward him slowly, making friendly noises, but he ran to another corner, putting distance between us.   “I think we should take him,” I said, not really thinking about what I was saying.  

My husband looked at me, not surprised, sighed, and said “she’ll decide who comes home with us,” meaning it would be my choice despite being one of four people.  He smiled.  

“It’s okay with me.  He looks like he needs love.”  The kids were disappointed.  They liked the spotted roley poley puppies.  They were friendly and playful.  This dog was decidedly not either of those things.  

Jen seemed unsure about our offer.  After some exchange on how we’d care for him, she agreed to let us take Jackie home.  We loaded him into the crate we’d brought and promised to treat his worms.  The kids made the best of it during the drive home, agreeing that this dog needed a home and the others would surely be adopted.  We talked about names.  And we settled on Tucker.  

Years later, Tucker was our rock.  He’d grown into a beautiful black shephard.  When my husband and I split, Tucker came with me, and my new little house felt a lot more like home.  Everyone loved Tucker.  He was mellow, friendly, and greeted everyone with a wag.  

And then one day when he was out in the yard he bolted into the street, probably chasing a squirrel or rabbit.  And he was hit.   

Tucker didn’t live.  We carried him to the vet and they tried to save him but couldn’t.  We all cried for days.  We talked about planting him under a rose bush but ultimately I didn’t.  I knew we would move to another house one day and I kept his ashes.  Four years later I still have them.  I still think about the nights my children were with their father after we split, Tucker curled up with me for company.  He was the best friend I took a little for granted.  Until he was gone.  And I’ve never been the same.   

We all carry him around in our hearts, especially me.   

We live on a farm, now, with a couple of other rescues.  I’m sure he would have liked this farm, so I am planning to bury him here in my garden with a rose bush over him.   

I want him to rest somewhere beautiful and to go back to the goddess, who gifted him to us, worms and all.    

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