Category Archives: Living in Place

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

IMG_3120Another snowstorm hit central Maine over the weekend, and it brought about a foot of snow. In January, the ground was bare. In February, not so much. Except for the dangerous driving conditions, which prevented us from seeing our nephew’s play, I really don’t mind the snow and the attendant clean-up. This might sound strange, but I actually like outside chores, and it makes me laugh to see the dog leap and jump and twist as he tries to catch the shovelled snow. Also, with enough shovelling, I feel as though I have earned an extra piece of chocolate as well as a snack of popcorn, and foodie that I am, this gives me extra motivation.

I am happy to report that with this storm, Clif decided that his wrist was strong enough so that he could help with clean-up. He’s been itching to give Little Green, our electric snow-thrower, a whirl, and I said, “Go for it.”

Go for it, he did, cleaning the whole driveway while I shovelled the paths out back to the woodpile, bird feeders, and compost bins. I also cleaned the steps and the walkway. It all went so quickly that I almost felt as though I hadn’t worked enough for that extra piece of chocolate and the popcorn.

Clif at the helm of Little Green

“Of course you have,” Clif said when I mentioned this to him, and, I needed little encouragement to indulge.

Today the sky is a beautiful blue, and our yard is a winter wonderland.


There is more cleaning up to do, and soon the dog and I will be out there, each doing our respective chores—me shovelling, him barking and jumping. Before I go out, I’ll have a homemade banana muffin and a cup of tea. (There’s not enough work out there for extra chocolate and popcorn.)


I’ve been thinking about our suppers this week, and I’m going to try my hand at coming up with my own meatloaf, using ground chicken, garlic, chili sauce, liquid smoke, egg, and bread crumbs. Also, I’ll be making, for the first time, a toasted chickpea and carrot soup courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

I’ll be writing about how each dish turns out.


Saturday, October 20—A Gray But Busy Day

Saturday was a gray day, but it didn’t matter as it was filled with many pleasing things to do. Our friend Diane had invited us to her home for dinner that evening, so first on the list was making an apple pie to bring for dessert.

Then it was off to the library to bring a birthday present to Shane, librarian extraordinaire and the leader of our library’s book group, The Title Waves. And what did I get him? A book of course—Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym. While my husband, Clif and I were at the library, we admired the new slate roof that is in the process of being installed.

After that, Clif and I went to Longfellow’s Greenhouses to look at the display of fairy gardens. Was I smitten? Indeed I was, and I immediately beginning thinking about making a couple of fairy gardens for a problem spot—dry shade—that I have in my own yard.

Finally, it was off to Diane’s Café, as Diane herself dubbed it, where she was not only a warm and gracious hostess, as always, but where she also went all out with snappy decorating and presentation.

The food was delicious, and what a warm, wonderful time we had around that table. There were 8 of us—my daughter Shannon and her husband, Mike; Alice and Joel Johnson; Sybil Baker, Clif and me; and of course Diane. We are such kindred spirits that the conversation just flowed from movies to books to politics to personal history. Sybil told us of the time she spent at school in England in the late 1940s, where food was still rationed but because she was a minor, she was allowed one egg a week as well as an orange and a banana.

And on this gray day I felt so lucky to live in Winthrop, to make apple pie, to have a great library, to go see the fairy gardens, and to have such wonderful friends.

My Garden—October 18, 2012

Today the sky is gray, and certain weather reports have a tempest coming our way. Other reports are more moderate, merely promising us rain and drizzle. At any rate, we shall see.

Yesterday was a glorious day, and I spent some time cutting back my perennials.  Silly gardener that I am, I even like the way some of the plants look as they are winding down for their winter rest. Nothing showy, nothing beautiful, but worth noticing nonetheless, and I don’t cut everything down, leaving plants with pods and dark seeds to give interest to the fall and winter garden.

Pictures from my October garden:


The Yard in October

Note: From my friend Kate, I got the notion of how important it is to live in place, to be completely immersed in the area that you live. I was going to do a multi-part series about living in place, but I believe this notion is so important that it deserves a category of its own, one that can be explored on a regular basis. While a Living in Place category might be similar to a Community category, there are some differences. Community, at least to me, focuses on the human element. It’s the way we come together to make our towns, cities, and, yes, even suburbs places of resilience that nourish people in good times and bad. Living in Place is more about the land, the environment, and I truly believe that only when we fully live in place do we begun to take care of the land, the water, and the air. Thanks so much, Kate, for planting this seed, so to speak.


In Maine, October is a tumultuous month, one of lashing rain, falling leaves, frost, brilliant blue skies, and air so crisp and clear that it makes you glad to be alive. It is a bright month of orange, red, and yellow. It is also somewhat sad. Lovely, warm summer has come to an end. The time for lunch on the patio will soon be over. Even on our little acre in the big woods, there is much to be done. The gardens need to be cut down, the leaves raked, the wood stacked.

Yesterday, was a very satisfying day of emptying pots with flowers and herbs that had been blackened by frost. It was warm enough so that scrubbing those pots was no hardship. It was also a day of hanging sheets, blankets, and quilts on the line. I feel a sense of urgency on every nice day to keep that clothesline full of sheets and blankets. Soon, it will be too cold to do so, and everything will go in the basement to dry. But until then…

Here are some pictures I took yesterday.

Blue quilt on the line
Blue quilt on the line
The sky above the patio
The sky above the patio
Temple dog in the brown leaves
Temple dog in the brown leaves
A full bird bath
A full bird bath