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.


A Fond Farewell

All living things have a life span. Pets, farm animals, wild animals, water creatures from small to large, as well as plants from moss to redwoods.

Several years ago, I bid farewell to a large oak tree in my front yard. For twenty years, I enjoyed the shade and the antics of the squirrels racing and leaping on branches and trunk. But the cycle of life keeps turning — and the tree developed a fatal illness which put it on the arborist’s list.

I don’t know how many before me enjoyed the benefits of thousands of leaves and an equal number of acorns. (At least it seemed like it when the year was good and the nuts created obstacles on the nearby sidewalk.) I would not be surprised if the tree was older than me — and I can remember when people talked about Packard cars being discontinued.

Trees abound in Missouri State Parks. For a sweet romance which will introduce you to several parks — try Morning Tryst.


It’s a …Tree?

Four springtimes ago, in an effort to beautify the grounds, we planted sprigs (too small to be saplings) received from a charity known for forestry efforts.

This one was placed in front of my condo unit. I watered. I fertilized. I kept watch and rejoiced at a few green leaves.

The plant survived the first Missouri winter. And the second. I removed a piece of drainage pipe that kept the lawnmowers and rabbits at bay.

It’s doing well. Soon clusters of tiny white blossoms will open. Later in the summer small, dark berries will feed the birds.


we’re casting our vote for “bush”.

The hero in HIDING PLACES knows what he’s planting in his orchard. Check out the sweet, small town romance here:


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:


The Greening

During 2021 I tried keeping an informal record of the most prominent tree visible from my front door.

The assignment, carried out with a passing grade, was to photograph the tree from approximately the same position on the first day of each month. (Due to the age of my brain — some photos were taken on the second, or third, or…you get the idea.)

May happened to be a month when I was prompt.

Spring was making an appearance in St. Louis during May. From an April photo of mostly bare twigs, we’re progressed to light green, small, and delicate leaves. At the moment, it does not provide much shade for the car parked nearby. But that’s okay — even the afternoon sun is not strong enough to be a bother. However, the leaves at this stage give hope that the alternating cool and warm days of spring will yield to full summer by the time schools dismiss and swimming pools open.

Did the photographer stand in the middle of the street to take this?

Yes, she did. However, she did follow the wise advice to check traffic first and was ready to dash to the side if necessary.


Calling the Weary

Dear Reader,

Rest here, exhausted hiker. Or child who has explored the playground. Or while waiting to meet your companion.

My branches have sheltered all. Spiders and insects, squirrels and birds, deer and human.

I’m taking my own rest now in this December photo. Two or three more cycles of the moon will occur before the nutrients I draw from deep in the earth will reach the now dormant leaf buds. Then — well — I’m one of the heralds of spring. How large are my new leaves? Dare farmers and gardeners plant tender crops? Which songbirds flit on my branches chirping, finding mates, and setting up housekeeping?

Summer can be intense. I like a cooling rain–good for my roots. Summer is when many seek my shade — either on the ground or among my branches.

But all things are subject to the cycle of seasons. My leaves lose function and turn from green to brown — perhaps a hint of dull yellow or deep red if the rain and temperature have been kind. And then, well, unlike humans. I shed my leafy clothing before I go to sleep. Behold my branches — stand back and admire my reach — plan your climbing route. (Remember you need to come down.)

I’ll be here — before and after your active, or restful, day at the park.


The Tree


Age Unknown

Once upon a time, a tree sprouted in St. Louis County. The plant grew, and grew. Through the years it hosted birds and squirrels. Shade provided relief from summer heat to rabbits, chipmunks, and other creatures. Through the years it stretched upward. Spread branches in an enlarging circle.

And then…

Branches turned dry and brittle. Needles changed from green to brown. Less and less wind became necessary for an impromptu prune.

Experts arrived. Hydraulic arms lifted a man up high. A chainsaw whirred.

After the sawdust settled and the wooden corpse was hauled away, this remains. How many years did the pine tree live? No rings. The ruler in the photo is twelve inches — so my guess is a multiple of the twenty years I lived across a narrow walkway.

If this were an animated movie — Ms. Squirrel could gather the neighbors and regal them with a “stump” speech.


Air Dance

Change in season. Change of temperature. Here comes the wind — autumn this time. Signaling the end of the growing season.

Yes, it’s time to tidy up, repair, and stock up on some staples.

Have you pulled out or trimmed the annual plants? Stored the patio furniture? Don’t forget the hose!

Leaves taking the “scenic route” from treetop to ground. Can you hear them?

“Let’s dance and get a glimpse of the neighbors before we settle in and face the rake.”


Dreams in the Field

When I grow up — I want to be a Christmas Tree.

Can you picture me — tall, trunk straight, branches full — I’ll hold your precious, antique ornaments of glass, wood, paper, or fabric. My green fingers have room for new ones too — gifts, crafts assembled by children, strings of beads, popcorn, or cranberries.

Do I look fine? Am I ready?

The workers have done a fine job shearing me into shape each year.

Want to make me a good house guest in December? Keep my water dish filled — some days I’ll drink more than others — the better to keep my needles firm on the twigs.

When the gifts have been exchanged and the wrapping paper discarded — don’t forget about me. Many towns and cities have special collection sites and will turn me into mulch for spring gardens. (Or check with the local zoo — elephants think I’m a special snack.)

Thinking Christmas trees? Check out Starr Tree Farm — a sweet romance with a touch of suspense. You never know what will have on a Christmas tree farm in January.

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Growing for the Future

Row upon row upon row the evergreens decorate the gentle hills.

What does the future hold?

Northern Christmas Trees – field of Fraizer Fir

The kind gentleman who escorted three women (old enough to be his mother) around the Christmas tree farm explained they are considered a ten-year crop. If holding to that schedule — these young trees, photographed in 2011, have already spent a season in living rooms throughout the United States. Today this same field is likely growing the next crop. Patience. Plan ahead. They sound like keys to a successful Christmas tree farmer.

Authors also need to plan ahead. Books are not an instant crop from pen (or computer) to book-in-hand. Can I build on the past? To what extent? Is it time to explore a new location? A new time frame? Where are the turning points in life?

Looking for a story set on a Christmas tree farm or the small village nearby? Check out: Starr Tree Farm

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