Winter Gardens, Church Attendance, Antartica, and Link Love
A smattering of goodness for your inbox
We woke this morning to a thin layer of ice everywhere, coating branches and buds, rock pathways and last year’s garden remnants. This morning I stood in our screen doorway watching the pups try to navigate the ice (Rilke’s first ice—it’s so fun to watch them experience something for the first time) and stared out at our border garden.
Some people clear out their gardens at season’s end, but I like to do my clearing in the spring when it all feels more like a beginning than an ending. And anyway, I planted our gardens more for fall color and winter interest than summer flowers. There are tall grasses and red dogwood whips, sculptural echinacea heads and the hanging pods of baptista drooping with frozen water drops. The orbs of hydrangeas and the stalks from hostas add some more interest, and among it all stands a clump of three white birch trees hugging one another.
This marks our fourth winter in The Little River Cottage and this week I took stock of her. We knocked down walls, raised the roof, and kicked out dormers. We added closets and a closet door. We refinished floors and laid floors, painted and wallpapered walls. We wrapped her in layers of insulation and replaced windows, added 300sf with the screened-in porch and built in a mudroom from studs. When the big willow fell, we graded the shoreline and added a fire-pit. After 30 years of an overflowing sewer drain running parallel to the river, we chased down DEC and the city and finally got it capped. We put in a fence and gardens, resided the whole house and painted her trim.
I remember a neighbor asked one summer day a few years ago, “Do you guys ever quit?” and I suppose the answer was no. Sometimes I feel like I’m a starter, not a finisher, but amidst remaking over this house, I wrote two books and began and finished grad school. I have to remind myself of this when the cacophony in my head yells, “Quitter, quitter, quitter!” over and over at me. My problem isn’t really that I quit, it is that I sometimes I look at brown and barren stalks and think I have never produced anything good.
The winter garden reminds me that we’re all doing something in our season, even if it looks ugly to someone else.
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It has been a long, long time since I’ve done a link love and the tabs are getting out of control.
“Creative work can only come from as a deep a place as we're willing to live, only as wide as the welcome we're willing to offer others,” fromat Still Life.
I used to have fairly legalistic views on church attendance. But, as with most strong and rigid views, once we experience the unexpected, our views often change. I still love the church, maybe now more than ever. But this post fromon reasons to stay or leave your church may resonate with you like it did for me.
I loved this piece on winter from Margaret Renkl in the NY Times.
I find other people’s writing process interesting to me and after three books under my belt,’s process is fairly close to mine as well. How I Start a New Book.
Madeleine L’Engle was my favorite writer at 13 (and still is today) so it is no surprise that Barbara Brown Taylor is one of my favorite writers today thirty years later, even more so as I age. Here’s a conversation with her from Image Journal.
“She wanted sudden; all I had was slow.” Rebecca Solnit constantly says the words I feel in my soul. Here’s a piece on slow change.
This episode from Poetry Unbound came at the perfect time for me. Small Talk or In My Hand Galaxies.
I listened to this interview withwhile on a plane stuffed into a corner for nearly six hours this week. I keep thinking about it.
This playlist is on rotation for the fourth winter in our home and I’m still not tired of it.
In case you missed it, I wrote some my thoughts out after finishing Yellowface last week. I’m still thinking about this one.
Just wanted to put a little bug in your ears about a couple things:
First, we still have space on our Greece trip in April. As we get nearer and nearer to leaving, I get more excited about the trip. I’m going to hold an informational Zoom about this on January 31st at 6pmET. If you’d like to join, you can tap this link and pop in and ask whatever questions you might have.
Second, registration is now open for The Third Way retreat we’re holding in the Adirondacks this fall. Spots are filling up fast, so if you want to hold your spot, get your deposit in asap. We still have five rooms available for married couples, so especially if you want to come with your spouse, now is the time to register.
Third, now is the time to get your preorders in for The Understory. Baker Book House has a nuts sale on preorders, 40% off list price and free shipping (that’s WAY better than Amazon). We had our marketing meeting yesterday to talk about preorder and launch goodies and guys, it’s all so pretty! Once you preorder, pop on over to The Understory’s landing page and enter your email and as soon as we have the preorder gifts ready for you, you’ll be notified.