Friday, March 31, 2017

Is it April yet?

"Is it April yet?" Well, it will be tomorrow. Not to worry, seasons are always more about courage than calendar. A tree must grow where it's planted, but the soul makes her own weather.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A good start...

Oh, I do love these misty mornings in early spring when the clouds hang low over the town, hiding the ridge-tops, when the cherry blossoms are in flagrant display, and the frogs in full chorus down by the wee pond at the foot of Piney Mountain.
A good start, I think, to the rest of my life.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fair exchange...

On Saturday, I baked three loaves of lassy-bread. On Sunday, I gave one to my neighbor Marilyn and she gave me these Brandywine seedlings. I think it was just giving love away on both sides.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Signs and wonders...

The quickest way to trap a tender grain-fed tourist for our annual Start-of-the-Season Town Barbecue is to post a sign advising them not to go there. Hospitality is a big thing around here. We just love having strangers for dinner.

There you have the plot of my next short story. My last collection of stories was pretty dark, too. You can get it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Monday, March 27, 2017


The first outdoor music of the season came skirling up the hill from town over the weekend. Somebody playing a wild and wailing Celtic flute to a down and dirty Appalachian guitar. The tune fell out somewhere between Bob Dylan and Duncan Morrow.

We live to a strange mix of rhythms here in Tsaludiyi, where nothing is quite pure and nothing is quite lost. Mountain folk have always lived on the edge between the light and the dark..

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The poem says...

The poem says to "rage, rage against the dying of the light."
It's hard to rage when the light goes so easily,
goes naturally as turning a corner.
Night is not a dying, but a borning
into a farther light, while we dream
until glory comes round again.


Saturday, March 25, 2017


Yup, it's spring. Trillium are blooming along every path and track around Tsaludiyi. Owls are rowdy in the night. The first of my tomato seedlings have seen the light. I think they are enjoying the morning coffee I share with them.

It's getting harder to stay indoors, especially sitting at a computer. I get up early and stay up late so I can write in the dark. Come daybreak, the temptation to get out into the garden and the woods is overwhelming. It is easier to believe a handful of seed will grow into a season's vegetables than to imagine a few scribbled words will flower into a novel. 

One green leaf, one dewy bud, tells more stories than a library of books.

Friday, March 24, 2017


Our first spring storm fell upon us this week, on the first full day of spring. There was much noise and bluster through the late afternoon, and finally, after dark, a gentle and steady rain that filled the barrels and soaked the garden.

With all the warm weather in the forecast, we should have a splendid greening underway in another day or so.

Just when winter seems forever, he's gone, and we discover we haven't forgotten how to be happy after all.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Since I came to Tsaludiyi to stay, I've made a few friends. Not all of them are human. Not all of them are blooded.
Nearly every Monday through the winter and into the spring, I've walked the road courting Joel's creek a mile down the mountain and back. Some there are who would say a creek is not a soul. Nevertheless, she has moods. She has speech. We've maintained a continuing conversation through the seasons. She's carried my prayers and my thanksgivings, and heard my vows and confessions.
I believe that Creek is just as much an intention in the mind of Maker as any creature, myself among them. I pray that when I am scattered among the mosses, she might raise her blameless voice on my behalf, not to plead any innocence I cannot claim, but just to say I love her.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


For more than a year, I've walked past this house two or three times almost every day. I've seen it in all lights and weathers and seasons, by day and by night and on the edges. The scene draws me and haunts me for no reason I can say, but I hardly pass that I don't stop and make at least one photograph. I still don't know who lives there, but I think I know a story that lived there once.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Life is full of surprises. When I was fifty-seven, nobody could have persuaded me that at seventy-five, I would be working on my fourth novel, or that I would be reading novels on my phone.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Began laying up stone to shore the veggie beds on the hill behind our house. Not a wall really, more like a curb. Only about 18" high as it stands, not likely to grow much taller, but it will elongate as stones turn up.

So far, I've been using only stones unearthed in digging the beds. I'm missing my stone-mason friend right now. I hope she comes up the mountain before long and will give me some advice before I make too many mistakes to undo.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Sometimes, on the trailing edge of a day late in March, when the sun is low and the light is just right to unlock your heart, there are no words adequate to say the miraculous ordinary that you see. Then, you can only whisper the old words written down before you were here. They have to do because they are all you have. 
 O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O Giver of life,
glorified through all the worlds.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Not all...

We don't have a stoplight in our town, although we do have a caution signal now. It's at the lower end of Cullipher street, down by the bank.

A neighbor says when they change it to a stop light, it will be time to move. Not me. I'm sticking with Tsaludiyi as long as they'll let me.

The truth is, this place has changed over the years as little as any I know, and what changes are evident have mostly been kept in harmony with what was here first.

Change is inevitable of course, but not all change is progress. Change doesn't have to mean getting bigger and busier and louder, or becoming like everything else.

For some of us, a fortunate few, change means digging deeper into our true place, getting free for our true life, becoming steadily more our true self.

Friday, March 17, 2017


After the snow, rain; after the winter, spring. After a long day, we welcome the still and silent night.

Later, we forget how cold it was, how tired we were, how we longed to be past our moment of turning.

There comes a place, about half-way through every book I write, when I am so frustrated and sick and bored with a manuscript, I want to call back all the months I've spent on it, wish I'd used the time working in my garden.

Then I write a little bit more, the way opens up again, and I think this might be my best book. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

the bitter end...

The last week of winter has brought us the coldest weather of the season, and our first snow since January. Our Appalachian spring will have to wait a few days yet. The snow was nice, though, a sticky snow that clings to every twig and branch, weaves lace over all the hills and ridges, and is gone by dark.

Snow is even lovelier in the photos. Afterwards, we don't quite remember just how cold the wind felt. Like that mountain that made us struggle. Once we are home again, the romance sets in.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow day...

It was bound to happen. It only looked like spring. Winter still had a week left, though, and Sunday morning we woke to this. Tsaludiyi is beautiful in the fog and lovely in the snow. This past weekend, we had both for a little while.

But the roads stayed clear. We were able to walk down the hill to town and share the day with friends. We could have walked to church, but they were afraid all us old people might not be up to it, and canceled services.