Prairie Living

Growing Season


The garden is budding with garlic and onions planted last fall, pea vines and carrots planted this spring. I’ve got micro-greens growing in tires, and Greg is hardening off basil, tomatoes and peppers started in our basement from seeds. Already, we’ve harvested French breakfast radishes—Greg likes them plain, I eat them pickled in salads and on soft-shelled tacos.  One thing about living in the low lands—we sure can grow stuff.  Last year, the forest outside was made of tomato vines, and clouds of morning glories—a flower I tried unsuccessfully to grow at 8500 feet for two decades–clung to the side of the garage.  While everyone who knows me knows I’m am already cranky at the prospect of the coming heat, I go

pea vines

just a bit dreamy with anticipation of the green world and the pleasure of watching vegetables ripen while flowers open their heavy mouths to rain.

At a time when the backyard is geared for months of nascent growth, so too am I.  In January, I signed a deal with Scribner for my memoir about 40 seasons of mountain living to be published in March, 2018. (Check for updates on my facebook page and on my forthcoming website.)  For the first time in my life, I am a paid, full time writer.  Smack in the middle of what now passes for middle age, I’d have to say it’s about goddamn time.  Rising early to write, spending my days wrangling words, is what I was born to do. 
When Greg (then, the city-dwelling boyfriend) and I first got together, we’d spend part of our precious weekends dreaming of a time when we’d live together in a house and devote long quiet mornings to work—he painting in his studio, me writing in my office with a couch—before going outside in to tend the garden and ending the day by sharing a lovely meal—grilled hanger steak salad or shrimp tacos with cilantro relish.   




Salad Mix
And we have that now.  Almost.  In my mind, our home was one we owned, situated in a place with hummingbirds and coyote, and neighbors as scarce as summer heat.  Greg, far less picky and not quite as people-adverse, is happy right where we are on the nameless prairie where trains pass just blocks from our rental and street lights obscure stars.  He’s been a full-time artist in the winter months while I taught; in the summer, we traded places once his gardening work took off. 


And River-roo
But almost is pretty damn good. No longer bogged down by student emails and university deadlines and the pressure on nontenured faculty to be all things to all people, I’ve become a reader again-and there is rich pleasure in the stolen hours I spend in the hammock beneath the ash in back.  In the garden, I’ve hung out the humming bird feeder in a gesture of wild faith, while I busily research air-conditioners.  Meanwhile, I take breaks each day with River, our happily rescued from the kill-shelter dog, who is a goofy diversion and just one big love.  In the meantime, I’ll raise a glass to the season (and my good fortune), in anticipation of what’s to come.  
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