Month: July 2014

The Road Less Traveled

Every year I drive from Maine to upstate New York to visit my family. It is a trip I have done many times flying along interstates and turnpikes trying get to my parents’ house as quickly as I can.

This year I took a different route. My daughter and a friend are attending a camp at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire so I decided to drop them off and take a northern route to New York.

I settled into my journey realizing this would be the longest drive I have had in while where I am flying solo. I had a cooler with cold drinks and snacks next to me. I programmed my route into my GPS and hit the road. The GPS said the trip would be 4 hours and 20 minutes the road stretched out before me and I was ready.

With limited radio reception I didn’t have any stations to listen to, I found myself enjoying the silence. I tuned into the scenery around me and I am so glad I did. Route 4 meanders along the Ottauquechee River through the mountains and meadows of Vermont. Around every corner there was a new view to savor. I caught glimpses of covered bridges and beautiful farms that covered the landscape. I slowed down through the little Vermont towns with quaint Main Streets crammed with shops for the tourists. On the outskirts of these villages were dilapidated homes that reflect the challenges of eking out a livelihood in remote areas.

As I crossed over into New York I realized I was driving into an even more remote area. I glanced at my GPS hoping that I was on the right track not wanting to end up as a news story of a driver getting into trouble following their GPS off the end of the Earth. Having no cell service I needed to carry on and be confident that I was heading in the right direction.

The wilderness of the Adirondack Park is breathtaking for its beauty.  The area was also a little unnerving… I drove for miles without seeing another vehicle. I drove by homes and businesses that were abandoned… at times my imagination wandered and I created stories in my mind of what could have happened to all of the people who seemed to have disappeared.

After three hours of driving and the view out my window consisting of dense forest, I was getting antsy. I pulled over to the side of the road at an abandoned bar on the alert for zombies or crazy mountain men who might come after me. I quickly connected my phone to my radio and cranked up some tunes to sing along with. I sang loud and proud as there were no teenagers in the car to roll their eyes and moan.

The last hour flew by and I arrived at my parents’ house tired but loving every minute of my solo journey.

Slowing down to enjoy the view.

Slowing down to enjoy the view.




Gardening Wisdom

I love gardens. When I travel to a new place and I discover there is a garden or a historical home with a garden I love to get out and explore.  I wind my way through the pathways in awe of the beauty and appreciate the quiet.  I sometimes stop and sit on a bench and absorb all the colors and greenery that surround me.  I take photographs of flowers and plants I would like to see in my garden.  I dream of how the elements of the garden I am visiting will fit into my garden.  I dream and dream.  The trouble is I love gardens but I am not a gardener.


I visited the Joan of Arc garden in Quebec City last summer.


Over the last few years our front garden has been neglected.  I just don’t seem to have the time, energy or resources to get it straightened out.  My garden is an exhibit of trial and error… mostly error.  I am a firm believer in learning from my mistakes and in the gardening world I have made many mistakes.  Planting Cosmos in a window box (too tall), over watering and under watering the tomatoes all in the same season (results in split tomatoes), planting Sunflowers in the shade (don’t ask!) are among the many gardening snafus I have experienced.  A quality I have noticed in many of gardeners I know is their pure joy in being out in the dirt raking, trimming and planting.  When I get out in the garden I just feel overwhelmed and out of my element.

So it was with great hope I once again dug out my gardening gloves, put on a hat and boots armed and ready to tackle the mess of weeds that is my front garden.  In about three minutes I realized the wisdom of doing this heavy work early in spring as sweat immediately made its way down my face, neck and back.  But, school and family demands kept me running through the spring so I just glanced at the garden as I drove in and out of my driveway several times a day through April, May and June.

My gardening work didn’t get started until today, July 1st. Trying to look on the bright side I thought letting the weeds grow longer would give me longer handles to pull them out with.  Well, this is true but now they also have longer roots.

As I struggled and pulled and dug, I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere and thinking this gardening thing is just an exercise in frustration. My teenage son came out to check on me.  I suggested we burn the whole thing down and being the wise boy that he is pointed out it is too close to the house.  I think I made him nervous because he went into the garage grabbed some clippers and started trimming back some bushes.

I kept toiling away ready to quit but set a goal of clearing the weeds out to the window.  Weed by weed I pulled and dug so the pile in the wheelbarrow grew.  I finished the section I set out to with the hour and a half I had this morning.

This morning’s time in the garden reminded me of Anne Lamott’s book “Bird by Bird”, every little bit I accomplish got me closer to my goal of a garden that is presentable.  Of course, I know it will need revision and reworking but I am getting closer.  As I cleaned up my tools and admired the now empty space in my garden, I had a small sense of accomplishment.  I started pondering what I might plant there.  Maybe there is a little bit of gardener in me after all.