City Spot of Green

City dwellers of all ages deserve the opportunity to enjoy a bit of nature. In the tiny village where I grew up, we had two parks. One, rather informal, was called The Duck Pond. As you may guess, the primary feature was a pond where ducks hung out. The other, where baseball games were played was operated by a local veteran’s organization.

Larger cities often have more and larger parks than the two I grew up near. And they are great places for a tourist to drop in, as well as local residents.

Willow trees and water features – and waterfowl – were plentiful in Boston Common.

Can you imagine yourself relaxing under the friendly willow on a sunny day and reading a book?

I’d pick a romance to read. Perhaps on the sweet side. If I wanted to mentally visit Missouri parks while relaxing in Boston, my choice would be Morning Tryst.


Capturing the Sunrise

It’s one of life’s dramatic moments. Repeated every day of the year. And always in the east. However, the angle will vary by your location and the time of the year.

I’m speaking of sunrise. This view, captured in a park along the Mississippi River at the south end of St. Louis was a memorable morning.

Arriving in the gray of pre-dawn, I listened to a bit of birdsong and exchanged startled glances with a deer. The record was made with an inexpensive digital camera. Many of my friends would use the one on their phone. A serious photographer would use a higher quality instrument.

Tomorrow’s the summer solstice. Celebrate! If you are not the sort of person to rise in time to see the sunrise, celebrate later. I suggest combining it with the first birthday (one year since publication) of the sweet romance, Morning Tryst, where Serena Carter will guide you through her sunrise photo process.

Link to Kindle edition:


Visiting the Elephants

Have you visited the Elephant Rocks?

No, I’m not speaking of a sculpture park filled with images of the beast. (But that sounds like a cool idea.)

I’m speaking of the red granite rocks – large as elephants – in Missouri.

This relatively small state park makes a pleasant day trip from St. Louis. A paved trail leads a visitor in a loop of just over a mile. Be sure to leave the trail and play among the giants within the loop. The view is fantastic, no matter the season.

The quarries in and near the park acreage supplied high quality granite for buildings and monuments. Be sure to look for the tool marks as well as the initials of many workers.

Want to travel by book? While Morning Tryst, a sweet romance, does not mention the Elephant Rocks, you can be sure our photographer heroine captured interesting features. Check out her story here:

Book birthday, one year since publication, is on June 20 — immediately prior to the summer solstice — the photographer’s favorite day to shoot a sunrise.


Wonder in the West

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase — the American West?

Cowboys? Mountains? Buffalo?

Are you drawn to the scenery in classic western movies? Or do you think of switchback roads climbing a mountain?

Do you ever think of canyons?

No photograph, or puzzle based on a photograph, will be able to capture the majesty and grander of this canyon. The size-measured in miles. The colors of the different strata. The shapes of individual rocks and formations. A person needs to look with care and intent to see the river winding along the bottom.

Have you visited? Do you have it on you “to do” list?

On a smaller scale, Morning Tryst introduces the reader to several Missouri State Parks.


A Day in the Park

Shall we go for a ride?

Perhaps rent a canoe.

Or would you rather try your hands, and legs, at a bicycle?

The puzzle artist has accomplished his task well. A variety of features and activities woven together by the park path.

On this mid-December day this scene may warm you. Can you think back to a walk or park visit when the weather was similar to the puzzle picture? In this more modern era, I’ll opt for dressing in jeans and a T-shirt and sneakers on my feet. No parasol required — I’ll wear a cap and a dab of sunscreen. (If I remember.)

Serena Carter, the heroine in MORNING TRYST spends large portions of time in parks. However, they are of the more rugged variety. Forest, rivers, hiking trails, fishing streams, and historic homes and sites are more typical of Missouri State Parks. For more about this sweet romance, click here:


Desert in Bloom

December’s a little early. You’ll find more color in the desert in another month or two.

This pair, however, look right at home in this puzzle.

Unlike many puzzle artists, this series appears to blend photographs. I wonder how many they used. One for each bird? How many for the yellow blossoms? How many to get the cacti this straight and close together?

Have you visited the desert? Remember the sunscreen! And a hat! Check for critters before you sit on the ground. If you’re lucky, you may see a road runner darting between the clumps of vegetation.

The “Gusto Gang,” a group of women who became best friends in US Navy boot camp years ago, meet for a hiking adventure in National Parks. Sign up for my newsletter and get a free copy of the short DESERT ENCOUNTER.


Back to Back to Back?

The triplets sat back-to-back-to-back on the bench.

Wait! How? It’s a bench. Wouldn’t they be side-by-side?

I think it depends on the bench. On this circular model, you can sit with your back to others on the bench and all enjoy the tree’s shade. (Okay, considering the size of the trunk, the tree may not produce a lot of shade — yet. Return in five years.)

You can choose your view. Small lake with ducks and fishermen? Walkers starting or ending a circuit of the lake? Parking lot to catalog new arrivals?

Located in suburban St. Louis, this would be a great place for the characters in COMFORT ZONE to enjoy a walk and casual conversation. Kindle:


Big Trees & Many Birds

In the Southeast corner of Missouri, along the Mississippi River, the land lies low and fertile. At times called “Swampeast” a swatch of forest rises over the flat fields of corn and soybeans.

Preserved as a state park, the area is known for large trees — champion sized oak and large cypress — and birdwatching. More than 150 bird species have been observed in this lowland.

So when planning a trip to Big Oak Tree State Park, check two things — flood conditions and bird guide.

Keep your feet mud free by confining your hike — and bench time — to the elevated metal boardwalk. Behind this inviting bench stands a large, screened structure for an excellent view of birds at the edge of the forest.

MORNING TRYST, a sweet romance, features a photographer who would have visited this park in each season. Kindle:


On the Hoof

Ewww! They smell. They lay in the mud.

First reactions to these animals often start at the dislike end of the scale.

Most years, we raised some on our farm. We never had many. We had a small farm. They had their charm. Some enjoyed a good scratch and would come up to the gate or fence when humans came out to check on them.

They all enjoyed meal time. We had a feeder with room for six. All they had to do, any time of the day or night, was lift up the light metal lid with their nose and dine on ground corn with other nutrients added.

They never objected when we filled their water tank and it ran over a little. The response was rather — Oh, good — Mud!

Pork chops, ham, and bacon growing here.

This small herd lives at a County Park


Priceless Work

Times were difficult and jobs were scarce.  Owners of farms and homes became renters when bank payments fell behind.  The country, the entire world, was in the middle of a difficult transition.

Young men moved to the city — seeking work. Some ended up in bread lines, sleeping in hobo jungles, or drifting from one place to another.

The lucky ones found a government job — especially the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The work was difficult – pick and shovel, bucket and wheelbarrow — as they cleared roads and build bridges and shelters and retaining walls on public land. They built to last. They learned discipline and teamwork along with new skills. A few years later, many of these young men would use these skills as they fought to preserve our freedom.

Honoring the CCC worker at Babler State Park near St. Louis, MO

You will see their work in many state and national parks in the bridges, roads, trails, and stone buildings.