The novel The Garden House is set in the Pacific Northwest, with most of the action occurring in Seattle. Other books in the fledgling series might be set on the Oregon coast, or perhaps the San Juan Islands, or even — if shop owner Paula gets her way — the flea markets of Paris.
I lived in Seattle for seven years and I visit my sister in Oregon once or twice a year. I’m always struck by the breathtaking beauty of the landscape.
One of the things I love most about the Pacific Northwest is that spring arrives so early in the year.
As I thrill at the inch-high green shoots of crocuses in my tiny garden patch, I imagine The Garden House’s main character, Miranda, already surrounded by spring’s beauty.
I see her out in her garden on a cool morning holding a steaming cup of tea, or on her hands and knees, turning the soil to plant a box of pansies or brushing aside a few dried leaves to uncover a cluster of grape hyacinths.
Or just sitting quietly on a garden bench, taking in the colors and scents of early spring.
“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart.”
“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.” – Ernest Hemingway
“That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.”
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” — Albert Camus
“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” –Percy Bysshe Shelley
Though most of the scenes in the Christmastime series (WWII stories of love and family that take place on the home front) occur in the month of December, there are a few flashbacks to spring, summer, and fall. The final book in the series, Christmastime 1945: A Love Story, will have two scenes that take place in the previous spring.
I often imagine what the rural scenes might look like — sometimes drawing on the memories of growing up in small-town Illinois. (A few years ago I took the photo below of a farm outside of town. The tractor had plowed all around the dilapidated house, leaving the poignant patch of history.)
Other times I search for images on Pinterest that to help set the rural tone — a few early spring flowers that bloom along the fences and in the meadow,
or signs of spring in the barnyard and nearby trees.
And always, I imagine the interior scenes that take place with Kate and her daughters, Ursula and Jessica —
warming up with a cup of tea in the farmhouse kitchen, a blanket reached for against the chill spring nights, a few notes plucked on the piano, the comforts of a hot bath and lavender-scented sheets after a long, hard day.
Life on the farm was hard, especially during the WWII years, but Kate and her daughters made sure to enrich their day-to-day living with small beauties and the comforts of home.
Amzaon Link: http://a.co/bZvcQIt
To be released later this year: Christmastime 1939: a prequel to the Christmastime series and Christmastime 1945: A Love Story.
March came in like a lion, roaring and pouncing upon us with several snowstorms. After yesterday’s March Nor’easter #4, the world this morning appeared soft and white, with the fences and tree branches outlined in snow.
Some of the trees looked like cotton bushes — fluffy white, and light as air. As if you could pluck a bunch of snow, stretch it thin, and spin it into cloth.
And yet — once spring has officially arrived, and April is close at hand, no one wants to hear about how beautiful the snow is. They’re ready for color and a bit of warmth, for signs of growth in the garden, and the first touch of green on the trees.
I’ve found a hint of spring in my garden in the small cluster of crocuses and a few green spears of hyacinth leaves — a welcome sight. All it takes is a bit of color to assure us of the promise of spring.