Getting Closer

Sip. Sip. Sip.

From hair-fine rootlet to larger and larger specialized structure to the fashionable trunk the nutrients wick upward in the xylem. Then plant food, nature’s best, takes a turn – to the right, or the left, or slightly down – into a limb that narrows to a branch that becomes twig.

Small can be mighty as tiny stems feed a swelling blossom.

A novel begins small — perhaps with a single, small idea. Then it becomes a word, a sentence, a paragraph and a chapter. Like drops of natural chemicals dissolved from dirt feed apple blossoms in the spring words fill pages as a story grows and takes a definite form.

Can you see the future apple in the photo?

Can you find a story in the next sentence you write?


Hiding Places, a sweet romantic suspense, is available for pre-order on Amazon.  Come along and join Mona and Linc as they learn about more than apples in the orchard.



Spring Traditions

Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States.

Did you put out your flag? Thank a veteran? Visit the grave of a loved one?

Memorial Day weekend can be busy. Graduations – high school and college – mark milestones for both student and parents. Weddings give opportunity for beautiful dresses, photographers, and musicians. Family reunions and picnics – even the opening of public swimming pools – cluster around the date. I hope you enjoyed the first weekend of “summer”.

Did this weekend mark any “firsts” for you? The first BBQ of the season? New summer clothes? First visit to a particular place? First attendance at a special concert or ceremony? My wish is that you did one or more. Live forward without forgetting the sacrifice of the people in history that make it possible for all the activities that will be our memories tomorrow.

Small Town honors All Veterans
Small Town honors All Veterans



Unbroken Beauty

Even the name reflects it. Ever green. Always. Year round. Dependable.

During the summer months you don’t pick them out of a crowd. The competition with their deciduous relatives can be intense. It can also be helpful as nearby grasses and trees drink up rain preventing wash outs and their potential harm. It’s good to have neighbors.

Writing can be a constant. For successful authors it’s a year-round occupation with the desire for more hours per day. When one book is sent out into the world — like pollen or seed — to find it’s own way it’s not time to stop. No, it’s time to begin on the new idea, write a draft to polish and shine.

This is not to mean authors don’t celebrate. The crowd I hang out with favor chocolate and wine as rewards for a job well done.

This tree below, with it’s fine sheared shape, has more than likely graced a family living room during a recent holiday season.

Giving year-round pleasure to the eye.
Giving year-round pleasure to the eye.

Will you be near Plum City, Wisconsin this weekend? Drop into the library on Saturday to meet the author of Starr Tree Farm.



Somber Holiday

Memorial Day will be observed next Monday. Perhaps you know it as Decoration Day — a name derived from the custom of decorating the graves of civil war veterans with flowers.

During my childhood it was a day marked with flags, uniforms, cedar boughs with paper poppies, and speeches. It contained music from the high school band, salutes of three volleys of rifle fire and “Taps” from a lone bugle. Food, conversation, and laughter often followed the end of the final speech.

Shake the tree of any family residing in the United States by 1860 and you’re likely to find at least one Civil War veteran. In many families if you shake hard enough you’ll find some from each side. My own is no exception but little is known of the branch of the family that perished in Louisiana during that war.

The small cemetery in my home town contains a few graves with the weathered star marker engraved 1861-1865. The one below marks the resting place of my great-grandfather’s older brother.

Soldier's Final Rest
Soldier’s Final Rest

Book and Tree

At first glance you may not see much relationship between a book and a tree. Or in the stories I’ll be telling in the next several Friday entries – between evergreens, apple trees, and romance books. Bear with me and I hope to clarify things.

My writing would be categorized as: fiction, romance, suspense, small-town.

The trees featured in this blog are designated by kingdom, phylum, (continue down to…) genus, species, and variety. And while the photos are not exact (I speak of Balsam fir in Starr Tree Farm and the picture is a Fraizer fir) they aim for an idea, not scientific accuracy.

Today we continue the story of the apple tree along my morning walk. The variety is unknown. And if you go back a week or two you’ll see a little uncertainy about tree selection during the dormant season.

Writing is filled with dormant seasons.  I mean the times when on the surface no words are written. But below the surface the roots are seeking information through research and the author plays the mental “what if” game at the oddest times. From questions come more questions and a few answers. Ideas begin to unfold like these tender leaves that only a few days ago protected the future from harsh conditions.

An idea opens.
An idea opens.

Read a mature winter idea in Starr Tree Farm. Now available in paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Patience in a Small Package

Spring is rapidly moving toward summer weather. Never mind the calendar. Mother Nature has her own ideas for the American Midwest.

From deep winter to snow-melting season leads to a touch of warm spring. Then, as if to remind us who is in charge, a dial down on the thermostat. The next week it’s up again, then back. On a good year we have a week of perfect spring days spread out over two months.

The houseplants have been moved to summer quarters — under the overhang at the front of my condo. They will get afternoon sun filtered by the oak tree — after the leaves come out. This week it doesn’t matter, even warm afternoons do not include the scorching sun of late July and August.

This little fellow decided the pot edge was a perfect perch. And he stayed very still as I approached, went down on my knee and snapped a shot. He even remained when I stood and advanced another step.

I'm ready for my close-up.
I’m ready for my close-up.

Hazards to Green

I’ll have to agree with the frog on this one. While green is useful and I wear it with pride – it can be hazardous at times.

This winter was difficult. Yes, my roots were secure. The cold temperatures were expected and the abundant snow welcome. You see, I’m designed to endure long, cold, dark winters. My friends and I in the field flex in the storms and then capture the snow in drifts around our skirts. It’s so nice and comforting to the roots when it melts, trickling into the soil at all of thirty-three degrees. (One above for folks that think Celsius.)

But deep snow brings hazard as well as welcome moisture. My friends in the rows nearest the woodlot get the worst of it. Three or four heavy snows into the winter and the deer discover that our tops are easier to find for a snack than their usual woodland shrubs. It hurts when they visit. Chomp. Chomp. There goes my leader – trimmed down to less than an inch from the proud crowning glory of early December.

Warmer, longer days and vanishing snow changes the hazard. The deer retreat but the field soon has a new visitor. Legend among the trees tells of the ‘good old days’ – before the wild turkeys came. Now they move through the field in a flock. Peck. Peck. They pull off and gobble down another growth bud. How am I to grow straight and tall with they pick away at my potential? Days like this I wish for a little mobility – or a strong breeze – to wave my branches and discourage them.

Wait. What’s that sound? It’s growing closer. Yes, here come the humans. They are walking between the rows – scooping and tossing cups of nutritious fertilizer at our drip lines. Go rootlets – Go. I stretch them out to claim my portion of precious minerals mixed with fresh spring moisture.

Green Narrator
Green Narrator



Temporary Housing

Conference season has begun. Or perhaps it never ended. Writing is a year-round occupation, but winter weather and travel don’t mix well so conferences and gatherings are more popular in the warmer months.

Recently I attended a nice regional event. And spent three nights in the luxury of a hotel room. Luxury in the little things — no cleaning, no trash disposal, and a bed almost as large as my room at home. A chance to sample new scents in shampoo and shower gel. A work table and office chair that puts many offices to shame.

The view from my window wasn’t scenic. It didn’t matter. From breakfast until long after dark I was in the room only long enough to fetch or return an item or change clothes for the next event.

Yet in addition to meeting my needs the room furnished comfort and welcome.

Home away from Home
Home away from Home

The Right Tree?

What kind of tree is that?

Good question. Especially when asked during the dormant season. In early spring — when snow remained in our forecast — I decided to photograph apple blossoms from bud to flower to tiny fruit. My first task — find an apple tree.

Apple trees bear fruit – a delicious and healthful one. I knew an accessible one grew only half a block from the regular route of my morning walk. It would be easy to take the short detour — as long as I remembered to grab the camera.

On an early March morning I started. A row of six or more trees bordered commercial property. Which one was the apple? Most of them were about the same size. All of them displayed the bare branches of the season (no help from leaves today). I looked. I thought. I tried to remember where in the row I’d found it two years ago in late summer. It wore apples then, easy to identify.

I settled on the smallest in the row. Something about the shape indicated fruit tree rather than ornamental or shade.

Did I select well? It’s a little like beginning a new story. Do I have the right idea? The proper characters to act out the play on the pages?

Patience. Time. Patience and time as my father used to advise.

Right Tree? Right Story?
Right Tree?
Right Story?