Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dandelion Wishes to You

Good-bye beautiful Wisconsin and wonderful, welcoming friends. You've been a joy and an inspiration to me, all of YOU who've gone out of your way to be kind and generous.

West Salem, Wisconsin artist Judy Thelen and I are as alike as the proverbial peas in a pod. What a strange feeling it is to walk through the door of the guest house and see piles of my favorite books everywhere. It is as though she swept through my studio and transported them to her home. Judy is also a Maineiac and grew up in the Boothbay area. Our families get together every September when Judy, Dan, Raina, Jeff (and Brandy, the labradoodle) journey to Maine for vacation.

Judy is the friend who first taught me to capture dandelion wishes in a jar. These wishes just wait on a shelf or kitchen counter until a sad child needs some love and encouragement. Then, it is off with the cap, eyes squinched closed for a wish, and a big huff. This cheers children any time they're sad–and it makes me happy just to see the dandelion puffs resting in wait.

In West Salem at the Heider Center fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club, I reconnected with lots of old friends and scores of new ones

We stayed with Deb Biechler in her craftsman bungalow in Amherst, a town I loved instantly. The first day in Amherst we visited the Tomorrow River Gallery for an art opening replete with homegrown musicians, homemade wines, and lots of lively talk.

On Saturday morning, I gave a short talk at the community center. Later that day Deb, Jeff, and a host of others made food (I never worked with so much potato salad in my life) in Deb's cozy kitchen and listened to singer-songwriter LJ: Booth play guitar and sing his original works while artist Ann Herzog Wright harmonized.

Deb Biechler, an extraordinary, love-filled kindergarten teacher, writer, and community activist, is here selling books for Dragonwings Bookstore of Waupaca after my talk in Amherst.  Jeff caught a quick shot of the last of the patient ladies in line.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at a Chautauqua gathering. Teddy Roosevelt once said that "a Chatauqua is the most American thing in America," and I must agree with him. Experts in the field of archaeology, Native American history, geology, natural history, and ecology led us on a tour of threatened and revived rivers, creeks, and lakes. My favorite area is the beautiful Tomorrow River, which runs through (and is) the heart of Amherst.

A happy kayaker on the Tomorrow River, which is being restored by Trout Unlimited

This is a native brook trout from the Tomorrow River. Look closely at the incredible dots of color; this is a rainbow in its own right. All fish were immediately returned to the river.

Our evening ended with a gathering in the old Nelsonville Mill where about 75 of us shared food, laughter, conversation, and a short talk on the native artifacts (some of which were 9,000 years old) of the area.

I didn't want to leave Amherst, but as we drove away the sky opened and a huge rainbow arced above us. I know we'll return someday to a new "home" away from home and the wide arms and big hearts of the residents.

Love from the road as we head toward the T.C. Steele Historic Site in beautiful Nashville, Brown County, Indiana. T.C. Steele was one of my favorite of the early Indiana plein air painters. It will be a joy and an honor to be a guest at the site and I hope that some of you will join us on Thursday night as I talk about "The Artist in the Garden-The Garden in the Artist."

All joys to you,


P.S. Please drop by my newest Garden Grow Along posting. Jeff and I figured out how to turn a big metal stock trough into an inexpensive, clean, portable, and farmy looking worm bin. The "Girls" love it and the mice, moles, and raccoons know they're in there, but can't reach them.

P.P.S. To find out where I'm headed next, follow my book tour by clicking here. This does not include TV appearances, which changes daily along the route.


rebecca Sweet said...

Dandelion wishes in a jar - I don't think I've ever seen a sweeter idea for a sad child. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Noelle Johnson said...

Hello Sharon,

Now I know what to do with dandelions next time I see some :-)

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Sounds as if You´ve had a great time!
I´ve never heard about Dandelion wishes before, what a great idea! I have to tell that one to my nieces, thay all have small children of their own now.

That river is so beautiful! and the tout also! I wouldn´t want to leave that area either :-)
Have a great day now!

Thea said...

love the dandelions in a jar! you're so clever! safe journey! t

Erin | Bygone Living said...

Glad you are having such nice travels :) I absolutely love that dandelion-in-a-jar idea! ♥

marcia said...

Love hearing of your travels and seeing the beautiful pics as well.

Ahhh Dandelion wishes!...sooooo very precious ...and very magical.

I know quite a few little cherubs who would love seeing a jar like that...and so would I!

happy day!

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

Sounds like a lovely visit. I think the dandelion wishes jar is precious. What a great idea. My lawn is full of dandelions, and I let my children blow them. I just ask them to blow in the opposite direction of the garden. :) ~~Dee

Susan Freeman said...

I love the dandelion jar! What a fun and creative use of those white puffs that so many consider garden pests. Enjoy the rest of your travels!!

Susan and Bentley

deb said...

And Amherst didn't want you to leave either! You both, so quickly, became part of the community and felt to me like the dearest of friends instead of new acquaintances. Thanks for jumping in "elbow deep" in the potato salad, corn husking and dish-washing and story-telling! We're all so glad that you stayed to enjoy Tomorrow River Chautauqua's water tour. Love to you both, Deb

Zuzana said...

The dandelions in a jar and the way for a child to wish for something made me smile, what a delightful idea.;) You seem so very busy and seem to encounter beautiful adventurous on the road.;)
Your rainbow is so magical, thus have a magical week dear Sharon.;)

Aunt Jenny said...

OH usual you have inspired me again!! I have such a "crop" of dandelions this year..and have made jelly, cooked greens and done all I can think of to enjoy them instead of cursing them (like my husband...who is a groundskeeper for a living!) I am going to gather a couple jars full today to have on hand. I LOVE this idea!!!
Have a wonderful week!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shar! Fantastic to see you!

Hindsfeet said...

Sharon! Such a lovely creative idea the wishes jar!! i think there might be just enough left in my neighborhood to recreate this sweet idea....

...I have sometimes quipped about feeling like a bug caught in a jar...maybe this is just the antedote......

...thanks for sharing this...

...also, when I lived in upstate NY, Chenango Forks to be exact, there was a river that ran behind our house called the Chautauqua River....guess there's no way it could be the same one, right?

Unknown said...

Oh, I love the Dandelion Wishes Jar! We have a jar of tiny whole crab shells that we have collected. When one of us is having a particularly crabby day we place it in front of their seat at the kitchen table as a " hint of sorts ". It helps us all learn to laugh at ourselves when we get all bunched up over lifes little irritaions. Having a dandelion jar nearby to wish away the crabbies would be the perfect compliment to our crab jar!

Continued safe travels and Dandelion Wishes of course!

Leigh @ Toasted said...

Ohh - my heart melted when i read about the dandelion wishes! I'm not alone I see.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your dandelion wishing jar...this is the first thing I'm going to do after commenting here...get myself a nice jar and gather some dandelion puffs(hope I can still find some..)
good luck on tour book tour...pretty soon you'll be swinging on your porch in your little paradise and remembering all the wonderful people and moments you encountered these last 5/6(?) weeks...

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Friends,

I spoke at the T.C. Steele Historic Site last night to a wonderful audience. As I stood in Steele's studio, which looked as though he had just stepped out for a walk, I had to pinch myself. I have always loved his plein air paintings and there I was, surrounded by his vibrant works.

When I do my next posting I will share some of his work with you, also the gorgeous setting on the grounds of the park.

Heading to Toledo, Ohio area to do a talk for Whale of a Tail Books at the Chandler Cafe in Sylvania at 1:30. Come join us.

Then onward to do television and radio in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio. The radio show is called "Cover to Cover." This is a very popular show for book lovers.

Visit with me at Kathleen Gips' Village Herbs event, which will be held in Chagrin Falls, Ohio at the
Town Hall on Main St. This is a 6:30 P.M. tea with a slide presentation, talk, and book signing.

When you leave the major highways of this vast country you're in for a big surprise. LOTS of friendly people, beautiful landscapes, wonderful old buildings, street fairs and summer festivals, music, and so much more.

All joys to you from the road. Look for my upcoming posting later this week.


Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

It seems as though you must be having the most wonderful time traveling around and meeting so many great people.
I love the dandelion wishes idea, just so sweet!
I'm still hoping that at some point you'll be in the Seattle area on your book tour so I can meet you in person.

Maryjane-The Beehive Cottage said...

What a darling Dandelion wish jar! Sweetest thing I have ever seen!

Sharon Lovejoy said...


I am loving meeting so many people and visiting wonderful gardens and homes, but I MISS my gardens. I dream about them. I think when I reach Maine and plant my terra cotta pots and window boxes I will feel better.

In the meantime I check on your garden to help make it through my separation anxiety.



The Unusual Farmchick said...

Oh Sharon, as so many others have said, the wish jar will be a new addition for our wee ones to enjoy.
I envy your travels but know, I too, would miss my gardening.
So many beautiful sights & wonderful people!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

where are you now and when will you be home? just 9 more days until the beginning of summer which means fall count down to me! my salem witch day lilies bloom right around june 21st so i take that as a sign! then it is countdown time for our fall trip to rockport!!! teddy is already counting down to clam and lobster eating time. she eats the little legs off of the bottom of our lobsters like they are french fries. steamers are her favorites though. where else do you stop along your way? hope you are having lots of fun!!! joyce

Sharon Lovejoy said...


We're in Toledo, Ohio and I am giving a talk and book signing for Whale of a Tail Books.

Yikes, I am afraid of tornadoes (but not earthquakes) and they had some awful ones here a week ago.

Do you go to Rockport, Maine or Massachusetts? Rockport, Maine is only half an hour from us.



Marcie said...

What a wonderful trip it sounds like. I have relatives just outside of Brown Country. It is truly beautiful there. I have really been enjoying your notes from the road. :)

Sunita Mohan said...

What an absolutely delightfully delicious blog! I can't believe I didn't discover your blog till now. Thank you so much for coming over and leading me here.
I've only read about dandelions in storybooks but we do have several seedheads that look similar to them. I can just imagine the thrill it must give anyone (let alone a sad child) to puff an explosion of feather-light, cloud-soft dandelion wishes!What an absolutely brilliant idea :)

Carol said...

Hello Sharon, I am so delighted to have found your blog!! I love your header photo of the small desks and the view of the water out the windows. Enchanting. Also your dandelions in the jar are priceless! What a wonderful idea! It reminds me of a passage in Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca" . . . about bottling up memories like perfume to save . . . and to bring out whenever you wish to recall a wonderful moment in your life. From scrolling through your blog it appears you must have many moments worth saving in jars too. Thank you for the kind comment on my blog. I look forward to learning more about your writing! ;>)

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi sharon....we now go to rockport, mass. because our kids go and they have to take time off from work and school and this is our annual trip to salem. we no longer stay right in salem because we just can't find nice enough places to stay with teddy. we used to drive through rockport maine when we vacationed on islesboro for years. we so loved it up there!

Anonymous said...

You are one busy lady, Sharon, and well loved where ever you go. I love the dandelion wishes in a jar. I'll be remembering this.

Leanne said...

Sharon - can I please have permission to use your photo of your wishing jar on my blog post
I have given you credit -

Love Leanne

Helen East said...

I loved the dandelion wishes in a jar, which are now on Pinterest. Took me a while to get back to where they had come from but very happy I did!

I have posted it to Cambridge Baby's facebook page - hope you are happy with the attribution.

Lovely to enjoy your gorgeous blog, thank you. Helen x

Rhissanna said...

The wishes in a jar! What a wonderful idea!

Marlene, aka Mar said...

I just love the dandelion wishes in a jar; my grandkids will love this. Thank you for sharing. :)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Marlene,

This project and many many dozens more are in my book Camp Granny from Workman Publishing.

Thanks for the kind words,