Country Life

After ten years in the city, I’m back to my country roots. And it is good…

Of Bird Nests and Rainbows

Spring walking on a Sunday evening

Over the new mown trails

Through the raspberry canes.

The lightning and thunder have paused and… Continue reading

Hanging Out Laundry

There’s something peaceful about hanging out laundry. Standing in the sun attaching damp clothes to a rope with wooden pins is my favorite chore. It is not drudgery, not like digging an asparagus bed or scrubbing the kitchen floor. Standing in all the green looking up at the cottony clouds scudding across the sky, touching the white cotton … Continue reading

These Days

“The purpose of art is washing the daily dust of life off our souls.”–Pablo Picasso

The last few weeks there has been a lot of daily dust on my soul. On my body too, as we sweep the city house clean of grime, stuff, and… Continue reading

The Visitor

Just a few weeks ago I mentioned the opossum who knocked on our door in the middle of the night. I didn’t get a snapshot of the possum, but I did get one of our latest front door visitor–Chelydra Serpentina. Surprised? We certainly were. Just for the record… Continue reading

Where Violets Grow; and other thoughts from the garden

Who bends the knee where violets grow, a thousand secret things shall know…–Rachel Field

I’m putting in a little herb garden at the cottage. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. Basil, Dill, Cilantro, and Chives…. Continue reading

More Circles

There haven’t been any new fruit trees planted at Apple Hill Cottage for many, many years. Two old apple trees that really need to be pruned overlook the hillside. This spring we were too late to prune them – they had already bloomed by the time we got to thinking about pruning.

Our neighbors have many fruit … Continue reading

The Gloriousness of June

I THINK I will write you a letter,  June day. Dear June Fifth, you’re all in green, so many kinds and all one green, tree shadows on grass blades and grass blade shadows. — James Schuyler

James Schuyler has written the perfect poem: a love letter to a day in June. Not just any day. Today…  Continue reading

Apple picking

Apple Picking Time

No, it’s not time to hire any laborers yet, but the two old trees in our side yard have picture perfect apples on them for a couple of old codgers (not us, the trees…).

They are so close together that the red and the green apples mingle for a wonderfully random effect. They’re small, and … Continue reading

A Lotta Big Trees

We have five very tall trees around the cottage.

By very tall I mean 50 feet or more. One of them, a sycamore, is about five feet from the front porch. WAY too close! If it fell, that tree would do serious damage.

When the house insurance guy came to survey the house, his first comment was “Uh, you’ve gotta lotta big trees here.” Continue reading

Garden spider

Charlotte’s Lot

We’ve been watching Charlotte on our porch for the last three weeks.

She’s been there. Spinning and waiting, waiting and spinning; I could learn patience from her.

She hasn’t moved more than an inch or two in all these days, unless she goes off dancing midweek and then comes back on weekends to pretend that she hasn’t gone anywhere. Continue Reading

The Venerable Stump

the stubborn old stump

at the roadside has resisted removal.

It must have been

a fine, towering tree,

three feet through, touching the sky…

Continue reading

The Summer of Rain

I have a postage stamp flower garden out by the mailbox. (It cost more than 49 cents to put in…)

It’s filled with new perennials that decided to be first year bloomers –salvia, rudbeckia, daisies, and a bush honeysuckle. The cosmos self-seeded from last year and is blooming more profusely…

Continue reading

Critter Wars

The long, gentle summer evenings of my childhood were sometimes pierced by the crack and zinging whine of a twenty-two rifle.

It was my grandfather, defending his country sweet corn patch from the groundhogs. His main garden was in town behind his house, where he planted and tended and grew enough vegetables to feed us and… Continue reading


Our Neighbors, the Cows

Our new neighbors moved in around the middle of June.

I walked up yesterday morning to borrow a cup of milk and introduce myself.  Some of them were quite friendly. We’ve been waiting for them to move in for…Continue reading

Porch Swinging

I have a love-hate relationship with our back porch. It looks over green Pennsylvania woodlands; the birds and beasts are abundant. The five baby groundhogs under our shed are down to three. (This is good — natural predation!) We saw a male turkey spread his fan for his lady, and we listen to the ethereal … Continue reading

Hard Work Down on the Farm

You’ve heard the saying that if you cut your own firewood it warms you twice? Our friend, Joe, offered it to us–free trees already cut down and trimmed and dragged to the side of the road. So, a couple of weeks ago, on the hottest day of the year so far, we cut… Continue reading

Lamenting the Lost Ladybugs of My Youth

Ladybug Lament One ladybug is delightful, Two ladybugs are nice, Twenty-one ladybugs are frightful, Thirty ladybugs will quite suffice. Fifty-two ladybugs are a nation. Seventy-four ladybugs are an INFESTATION!… Continue reading

The Missing Bees

I lied.

In a post a few weeks ago, I waxed poetic about the blooming catalpa tree in the side yard. And I said, “Birds and bees love her”.

This year there were no bees buzzing around the catalpa blossoms. I know because the hammock is hung on the lowest branch of the giant catalpa tree, … Continue reading

Kitty looking over back porch

On Kitties and Raccoons

After I spent 9 days here over the two weeks around the 4th of July, the kitty and I had settled right in. So before leaving last weekend, we went to one of those big box pet stores and got a timed cat feeder.

The battery operated electronic model with bells and whistles is $100. … Continue reading

There were sure to be foxes in the woods…

It was a slow week at Apple Hill as far as actual work goes.

I’m still sanding (but I’m on the LAST cabinet!) and Mr. H.C. was spinning his wheels this weekend too–he needed a specific measurement from our stove in Pittsburgh that we are moving to the kitchen at Apple Hill. Gotta have a gas stove… Continue reading


It’s a local landmark in our front yard.

“Is that the building with the tree in the middle?” they ask.

We nod and smile. Only the old folks remember

it used to be a fruit-stand…. Continue reading

Meanderings at Apple Hill

The birds have flown, the kitty is skittish, and the lazy days of summer are almost gone.

Work on the cottage will continue, I know, but probably not with the same freedom of coming here each weekend, working, dreaming, and sitting on the porch.

One of our favorite things to do in the mornings and … Continue reading

Apple blossoms and lilacs

Apple Blossoms, Lilacs, and Birdsong

This is part 3 of several posts discussing Richard Foster’s chapter on Simplicity in Celebration of Discipline.

Ahhh, spring! The flowers, the colors, the smells, the birds, the sun… It’s just good for the soul. We’ve been talking about Richard Foster’s practical ways to simplify your life. And today we are skipping to #6 because … Continue reading

Watermelon and berry dessert

July Berry Days

Can there be anything more soul uplifting than a July sky day of clear blue and white? The berry path beckons… Luscious red and purple berries hang amidst thorns and stickers tempting, teasing, Further in the bigger, plumper berries dangle in clumps, tantalizing.

How far in will you go to fill your basket? The briars … Continue reading

A Plague of Cicadas

Once in awhile God sends us a reminder that we are human and God is God.

Every seventeen years Magicicada Septendecim (periodical cicadas or seventeen-year locusts) emerge from the deep mysterious underground. It takes seven to ten days for the adults to shed their exoskeleton and mate.

Here in the Southwest Corner of Pennsylvania, this is the … Continue reading

The Sorrowful Song of the Trees

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

That’s always been one of my favorite verses — the image of the trees rising up and swaying their … Continue reading

The Last Snow of Spring

Our bird feeder sat on the porch table all winter long, filled with sunflower seeds, untouched by any flying, hopping, or scurrying creatures.

It isn’t that we don’t have flying, hopping, or scurrying creatures: we’ve had flocks of Bluebirds in January, and a mischief of mice invaded our kitchen; herds of deer decimate our… Continue reading

Where Chives Grow

it was supposed to rain today,

there are clouds and gray but no rain.

the sun visits occasionally like one who cannot make her decision.

i feel her pain. at odds, at loose ends… Continue reading

Garden for Joy

The best, absolute best, thing that you can do for your peace of mind right now is to go  plant some seeds. I can absolutely testify to this; vitamin D is necessary to your physical health and your emotional well being…. Continue reading

Bluebirds in January

On the thirty-first of January

I long for warmth–hands and feet always cold…

the sun–so far away it doesn’t even… Continue reading

Thoughts on Blooming Out of Season

I hate winter. Grey. Cold. Cloudy. Sunless.

I may have never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I’m sure that I suffer from it. It would be perfectly fine with me if I could just hibernate all winter and wake up about March 21. To document the misery… Continue reading

Lilacs in September

The lilac bush in the backyard is blooming. In September. Their scent perfumes the whole house. It’s breathtaking. It’s September. Abundant and lush in April, Glorious and Not surprising. But now, blooming in Autumn… Is it desperation? A gasp before dying? September, we can take this two ways–An unordered universe? Or an unexpected gift? Continue reading

The Joy of Small Surprises

We pulled into the Apple Hill driveway Saturday evening at dusk after a long, grueling, expensive week at the city house. We were all tending towards grouchiness–even Henry the cat, whose nap had been rudely interrupted to be jostled along in the truck. There in the driveway,… Continue reading