Not every garden is a fall garden, planted just in time for the cool fronts and rain. Most are spring and summer, needing constant care and attention, just the right cover at the right time. Most of my gardens are over exposed.

This garden got lucky. Right place, right time. I have done almost nothing. It has required so little energy and just look at it.



It is glorious! It is the product of all those years, I guess. All that fretting from the harder seasons when there wasn’t much left to eat.

A sad day in July, 2011.


Here’s (some of) what I learn from the garden:

The best work is done passionately and quickly. Grabbing hold of the moments I most want to do the work and making the time, forcing the time wide open so that it happens right there, right in the heat of my desire.

Annuals from the sale table.


All the worry, trial and error, and late night reading over the years is cumulative. Every season is better and easier because of the work I put in the season before, or the one before that, or the one before that.

Late Spring, 2011.

There is room for rest.This bed saw nothing but cats and bird seed for a full year while I was busy tending other things. It’s resilience, again, fruit of the labor of seasons past.

August 2011


January 2012


Most of the work is just observation. Just like children, the cells multiply all on their own, according to their unique design and purpose. A gardener just makes room, minimizes pests, and does her best to enrich and protect the magic. We don’t create, we just make space.

September 2012




Why my garden makes me want to write:

The only words that ever get written are the ones that have been given space. Plant all the ideas in a wide open bed and something will come up. Something will sprout. Identify the sprouts, figure out what they need, and give it to them as best you can. Most will wither in the sun or be eaten by something in the night, but a few might make it. Mostly the ones you didn’t worry so much about.

You will delight in them because they seem to grow all on their own, almost for your pleasure. They aren’t work, they are well placed accidents. And then you will take a picture and post it on the Internet because you are so proud, and every one will be so impressed with you. On the inside, you will be unsteady and embarrassed, ashamed because you didn’t really do this. You were just a witness. It just grew in the space you made.


And then one day you will eat it.
You will cut the stalk and wash off the dirt, toss it into a hot pan with bacon and it will fill your belly.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

The weather crashed down on me, the weight of it knocked the wind right from my chest and I spent the rest of the day gasping for breath. My body knows this color, this cold, and it reacts in utter panic.

Ten thousand to-do lists later, and I think I might have a hold of it.

How is it that I always forget 10 comes after 9? Do I really spend January through September of every year pretending this season doesn’t exist? October terrorizes me — the days change shape, time changes, the weather can’t make up it’s mind, and it doesn’t help that death is propped up as decoration everywhere I turn.

I want to sound every alarm and run as fast as I can. But I have learned to hold still, because thirty-two Octobers have come and gone, and not one has destroyed me yet.

How to do it anyway.

Today I am supposed to write something substantial. That’s what I scribbled in my Filofax, anyway. And by scribble I mean meticulously printed, underlined, and highlighted.

The day started strong, with about a hundred happy little ideas growing in my head. I dressed and fed the girls, chugged a pot of coffee, and cheerfully taxied my crew to school.

I “brain blogged” all the way home and laughed out loud at my deeply funny jokes. I congratulated myself on being such a talented writer. By the time I pulled into the driveway, I was drunk on my own pre-productivity. Impressed by all I’d accomplished in my head, I swaggered into the garden to water and weed. Then I walked the dog, unloaded the dishwasher, made a pot of tea, checked in with all my clients, my traveling husband, the workers gutting the house across the street, and the weather.

I did everything but write.

The tea should’ve been a red flag. When I drink tea I am usually pretending. I have a whole cabinet full, like a trunk of dress up clothes, for when I want to be someone else or put on a show. In real life I drink black coffee. So when I went to put the kettle on, and the novelty of the pyrex tea pot caught my eye enough to make me stop and take pictures of it, I should’ve known I was headed down the wrong path.


By the time I sat down with my strange tea and smug grin, all of my bright shining ideas had been replaced by angsty hand-wringing and self-conscious whining.

Hours have passed since the sting of that moment, and I am still pouting. I tried to throw myself into other work, but the heat of embarrassment keeps creeping up my cheeks, distracting me. I feel like I’ve been disciplined publicly, like my hand was slapped away from a plate of cookies at a ladies’ luncheon.

This post is just me eating the cookies anyway.