Life as I know It

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Home Making Hearts are Happiest

The unexpected find of a mini-harvest makes the road weary traveler joyous.

Five thousand two hundred plus miles and instead of going home the most straightforward way I wanted to thread through the hills and back valleys. No more city travel for me. So Jeff and I drove country roads over the Temblor Range (yes, as in earthquakes), and...

I stopped to pick up acorns, to smell the scent of the golden California hills, and...

then we drove through the rippling grasses of the Carriza HOME!

We opened our gates and found Paradise. Citrus in bloom, my beloved pineapple sage in red regalia, the Mexican sage flaunting its royal purple, and hummingbirds...they were everywhere. They scolded and chittered as we walked the pathway toward the kitchen door.

I awoke before sunrise the next morning and took my ritual garden greeting walk. Before I knew what had happened it was afternoon. Mud splattered my nightgown hem. Slippers were black with soil. Buckets were filled with weeds, and mini harvests were piled along walls, in baskets, and on my tables. Hummers zipped past, narrowly missing me as they swerved and dipped at the plentiful blooms. This table is loaded with lavender past its prime picking time, but it will be used to start fragrant fires.

My succulent mosaics, started last spring, are thriving and glorious.

 Speckled Swan gourds (seeds from Baker Creek Heirlooms Seeds) are confused. They're blooming now, in November, as is my Pink Lady apple tree.

The last of the 'Painted Lady' runner beans from Renee Shepherd at Renee's Garden Seeds. These beans bloom in a two tone salmon and cream. The flowers are delicious in salads. 

The mini bench awaits a couple of grandchildren. The peppermint pelargonium wafts its delicious scent when the children sit down. What a great sensory memory for kids. Oops, what happened to the edge of the photo?
 I was sad to find that all my fraises des bois, which I've had for 30 years, were burnt to nubbins during the 112 degree heat wave in October. YIKES. The little strawberries were a gift from a friend many years ago and I have moved them wherever I've lived. Does anyone have any starts I may have shared with them from my garden??

I can't help stuffing my pockets with exquisite acorns. Look at all the shapes and sizes. In answer to a question from a loyal reader, yes, I have ways to keep my collections in order. I try to find interesting old print cases, which I fill with shells, leaves, etc. This print case, in old green, has celluloid tacks dividing the segments, and is painted a dark green. I'm using museum putty to hold the acorns in place and will mount this on the wall of my studio.

As I work I pick up fallen fruits and look for any that are ready to be picked. The mockingbird, who reaches the figs and grapes JUST as they're perfect, eyes me from his perch on a bare branch. Can you see the lemons, pineapple guavas, kumquats, Fuji apple, Pink Lady apple, and one miserable fig. My son Noah picked 40 pounds of figs this summer. Our caretaker Shay picked many fruits all summer long. Meanwhile, I was in Maine, loving every minute, missing not only my garden, but also my harvest!

Two volunteers who sprouted from the compost I add to all my beds.

No more travel for awhile, except for my bi-annual get together with all my best girlfriends from grammar school and junior high school. We're meeting at the Ojai Valley Inn in just a couple of weeks.

Many assignments are due now, and please do check out my new posting on Lowe's Garden Grow Along site. I am working on the beginning of my new bird book for Workman Publishing, which is due on June 1st and will be released in 2012. If you have any ideas about what I should include for 5 to 9 year olds just beginning to learn about birds, please let me know.

Sending love across the miles to my faithful friends,



Unknown said...

Welcome Home Sharon and Jeff!
Oh seeing your photos of the wide open spaces reminds me of our many drives out west while growing up in Northern Nevada... THANK YOU FOR THOSE!
Nice welcome you got from your " paradise" as well.

As you settle in to start your new book, I'm sure ideas will come pouring in... We are going to try making our own edible bird houses. I do think the 5- 9 age range could handle this activity with some gentle encouragement and guidance.
I've only begun to research supplies, and one thing that will be very important is non-toxic glue for attaching cobs of corn, sunflower seeds, nuts etc...Anyone know of a good non toxic glue?

Happy NESTING Sharon!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

I have been exploring this project too, but have had the same problem with finding non-toxic glues. Also, here is a thought, what if you have an edible bird house and it attracts predators to what should be a hidden house fit for incubating and raising baby birds. Maybe I should do an edible bird feeder project rather than an edible bird house.

Thanks Deb,


Robin Larkspur said...

You truly do have a Paradise for your home and gardens! Love the acorn collection, what a super idea. We lived in California for 10 years before moving to Central New York, and I do miss all the hummers buzzing around the garden. I chuckled when you wrote, suddenly it was afternoon, and my night gown was muddy. Enjoy your homecoming, and thanks for the wonderful photos. Bright blessings to you, Sharon.

From the Kitchen said...

What a marvelous homecoming, Sharon! I, too, love traveling the "blue" highways every chance I get. They are so much more alive than the interstates.

Enjoy your harvest.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Your CA home welcomed you home in grand style. I bet it felt good to have landed, and feels good to know you'll be there for awhile.

Enjoy all that wonderful beauty that surrounds you.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

jaz@octoberfarm said...

welcome back to your california home. what do you do with your place in maine? i love your acorn collection. my squirrels are eating everything here. the little boogers ate all of my pumpkins. i think we are in for a cold winter.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Glad you both made it safely home! Want to show The Herbal Husband your acorn collection. He will be envious! Looks like you are caught up on your gardening chores already! Love lavender in the fireplace! Enjoy being home, dear Sharon! xxoo Nancy

Anonymous said...

Welcome home...and looks more like the beginning of srping than autumn there...don't you have fall and winter in Cal? And we have yet something else in common, besides glass pieces...acorns! I love picking them wherever we go...they fascinate me...and just look at your collection!
A lovely post...hope you enjoy your home this winter as much as Maine in summer! somehow I have the urge to say..:So nice to have you home!!"

Dan said...

Oh my goodness Sharon, what beautiful scenery on your way home - so much empty space!
You have such a fruitful garden.

farmlady said...

Welcome home.
The photos are so "California".... they remind me of why I live here. The warmth must feel good. Glad you got away from the East Coast safely before the last big storm.
I'm so sorry about the little strawberries. Our heat is so intense here. But leave them in the ground. They may come back.

Claus said...

Now that's a happy home arrival!! What a heavenly place Sharon! With all the pretty nature around, fruit and acorns, succulents...I actually wish mine was anything like yours! I spent Friday afternoon (was off from work) cleaning the garden boxes, hoping to make way for some growing in the glorious summer. I need to plant some bulbs I rescued (amaryllis) and do some pruning. The volcanic ash did mess with some of my plants (my tomato plant!) so it will take a while for them to recover. You, however, have inspired me!
Good luck with everything that's coming your way! The bird book sounds very interesting.
have a lovely day!

Lesa said...

Glad you are home safe and happy! My little Dylan, age 3, picks up the acorns under our oak tree and kisses them. I asked why and said "they are baby trees and I love babies". So sweet.
Thanks for sharing your photos and fun with us.

Vicki Boster said...

Sharon - there is no place like home and you are so very blessed to have 2 beautiful places to call your home. It looks like your CA gardens welcomed you home and were waiting for you to walk their paths.

So glad that your journey was safe - that IS a long way to drive expecially when you are anxiously waiting to be HOME!!

I adore your acorn collection - I love acorns as well. Do you have any of the large burr acorns?

Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos -

and best luck to you as you begin your new projects.


Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Oh what gorgeous gardens Sharon!
You are a lucky gal to live in two such pretty places!
My gosh, I loved the pics and the story!
I look forward to cross country road trips with my hubby when he retires!

Pondside said...

Your joy at being home jumps right off the screen. What a wonderful feeling it is. It's clear that you know that you are blessed to live in two places you love - thanks for sharing.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Have a wonderful visit with your friends, Sharon! Isn't it wonderful to be home after much traveling? I love to go but I love to come home even more.

Zuzana said...

There is nothing like coming home... After long travels it is the best place to be...
Welcome home and what a lovely set of images, they are like eye candy to me, particularly when my part of world starts to be devoid of colours.
Have a lovely day dear Sharon,

Blondie's Journal said...

I love taking road trip, too, Sharon. Your pictures almost left me speechless...the open highway and blue skies. Beautiful.

And what a homecoming!! I love your collection of acorns...what a clever way of mounting them. I have never heard of museum putty. What a gorgeous garden you have!!

I hope you are having a wonderful week!


Beth Benjamin said...

Hi Sharon,
What beautiful photos - you certainly live your life in two gorgeous places. I just want to be sure you know that you can still get the Painted Lady bean seeds from Renee at Renee's Garden ( should you need to replenish your supply. Those seeds are favorites of my grandchildren, and they resprout perennially here in the Santa Cruz area. Best, Beth Benjamin

Kristina said...

Such lovely plants to welcome you home! We are heading into the cold winter months so no more growing around here. I will just look at your photos and dream of spring! Take care!


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Oh yes, THANKS BETH! Shepherd's Seeds is my go to source for many varieties of seed, but always for the gorgeous 'Painted Lady' runner beans, which Beth Benjamin and Renee first introduced to me many years ago.



Elizabeth and Gary said...

Hi Sharon,
You have been one busy girl, with all your traveling..Every time Gary and I go away and come home we always say "there's no place like home" and of course we always miss our bed....LOL..we are so spoiled.
I love hummingbirds and doves and I think children do too..will you right about hummingbirds and doves for the children?. I think they are such delightful little creatures.. I have always been frighten of birds except for doves and hummingbirds(I think it was the movie The Birds) that did it, LOL..
Have a sweet day in the garden...
Hugs, Elizabeth

Lili said...

Oh how I enjoyed everything about your happy homecoming! Your descriptions, the images, and you losing all sense of time out in your garden with mud splattered on the hem of your nightgown. Between Maine and Calififornia, you really do have the best of both worlds Sharon! xo ~Lili

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I'll definitely be a customer for the bird book. My five year old granddaughter, Faith, loves birds and gardens (how she would love you!). :)

I know she would enjoy seeing what flowers various birds like best.

Welcome home!

Oh, I had gourds grow from my former compost pile last year! Just recently I had a plant growing in front of my porch and could not figure out what it was. Then one day I took a "sniff" of the leaves and realized it was a tomato plant.

I had a couple tomatoes fall off the porch before I had a chance to take them to compost and one obviously had rotted "to seed". :)

Suzanne said...

Such a lovely place...sigh:-) My 6yo daughter Lydia loves birds. We often listen to the sounds from a book we have and we have a whistle caller from the Audubon society. about identifying differnt birdsong.

Elizabeth and Gary said...

Hi Sharon,
You made me laugh! I will keep you on top of the list if I ever get tired of the quilt..
Thank you for encluding doves and hummingbirds in your book for the children..
Just today seagulls were flying over Gary and I while we were waiting for our commuter tain and low and behold the seagull droped a poop right next to Gary and only missing his head by a inch (we are still laughing). I will try not to be frightened really I will. I think also it brothers me that the birds make such quick and speedy movements. We have had a bird fly right into the front window of our car, it was terrible...
Have a restful weekend, I plan on doing some sewing.
Big hugs, Elizabeth

Nan said...

Your pictures are really wonderful, Sharon. I've never seen such acorns. What a good idea to save them. You truly live in the best of both worlds (coasts). Thank you for sharing these pictures.

Lori ann said...

What a homecoming! I loved LOVED all the photos and hearing all about the many adventures that is your life.
Now i think i'm going to do that too with acorns, mine are at the moment scattered!

enjoy these days dear Sharon (can't wait for the new book!)

Sense of Home Kitchen said...

Sharon, I am so excited to read that you are working on a new book! It will definately be on my order list for the library and we now have a branch library so I will be buying two copies. Your other books are very popular, can't wait for the new one.

-Brenda said...

Welcome Home Sharon! California missed you . . . glad you're back.

Fondly, Christina ♥ (Paloma)

Pat said...

What an arrival - to have the hummers greeting you and a late harvest waiting for your eager hands...HOME - such a beautiful word.
Thank you for sharing.

Thea said...

welcome home, buttercup!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Oh Thea,

I LOVE being called Buttercup. My Grandmother called me that and I would burst into the Mikado song about Buttercup.

Thank you for the memory and for making me laugh,

Sharon (Buttercup)

GretchenJoanna said...

Encountered your blog for the first time today, and as I was reading how you moved from Cambria to Maine, I was a bit distressed, thinking how drastic a change that would be. It was a relief to read the day's blog post next and find that you have come back, at least for the winter, I hope? Glad to meet you. :-)

Kay's flowers said...

Oh Sharon,
One of my favorite things to do when I get home from a trip is to take a walk around my gardens and see what all has gone on.

Yours look wonderful. It inspires me to get out in mine.

I'm so glad you two made it home safe and sound.

Enjoy being home in California.

Much love,

Glynis Peters said...

What a delight of a post. I love that you garden in your nightgown too! It is so easy to get carried away.
If ever I leave Cyprus, I will head your way, it sounds divine.

Thank you for sharing.

Magic Bean said...

Hullooo from Cambridge. Lovely post and what beautiful light you have over there at the moment. We have quite a bit of grey with the odd surprising sunny day. I too love printers trays but have never thought to fill them with just one thing- it looks very effective and I may just have to pinch this idea...!
Will be back again soon, Ax

Privet and Holly said...

Welcome home, and thank
you for stopping by!
I was in Palm Springs
a week ago and your
pictures transported
me back to our lovely
but short holiday, there.
Yesterday we woke up to
snow that fell all day.
Each has its own special
beauty, just like your
two homes. For your bird
book, I would most
definitely include bird
songs....My kids can still
identify several different
birds from learning about
them in kindergarten.
Chick-a-dee-dee-dee is
one call that instantly
comes to mind in our area.
Have a lovely week!
xx Suzanne

Anonymous said...

Welcome home!

I'm excited about your new book. I don't think that I have any new ideas. My dad would take my brothers and me to a place called Sapsucker Woods so that we could watch birds.

There were lots of black-cap chickadees, cardinals and woodpeckers of all sorts. Cornell has a website where you can listen to the bird calls.

Anonymous said...

Welcome home!

I'm excited about your new book. I don't think that I have any new ideas. My dad would take my brothers and me to a place called Sapsucker Woods so that we could watch birds.

There were lots of black-cap chickadees, cardinals and woodpeckers of all sorts. Cornell has a website where you can listen to the bird calls.

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

What a wonderful, stop-and-smell-the-acorns-kind of trip! But, I agree, it is always nice to be home. :)


P.S. I'm delighted to discover your blog too.

Pom Pom said...

Hi Sharon!
I love that blue garden door. So gentle looking! Your squash are super stars! Do you miss Maine?

Flourchild said...

Thank you SO much for leaving a comment on my blog. When I read your husband may have a coronary from you buying the cheese or him eating it..I laughed out loud.
When I came to your blog I thought wow Im visiting someone famous cool and Im impressed! I love your cottage and your talk about remodeling! All of your pictures are wonderful!!

Janna Leadbetter said...

It all looks so beautiful, Sharon! What a full and peaceful place you've created and live in.

Aunt Jenny said...

I just love getting to see your garden in photos. I adore pineapple sage and loved seeing yours in bloom. Mine is long past that snowed off and on today. Very pretty but not very nice for the garden. I did pick some parsely for a recipe today though. I think I got my very first pineapple sage at Heart's Ease. I have so many memories of first "meeting" herbs that were new to me there. My mouth just waters over those pineapple guavas. My beloved grandma grew them and I haven't found any since moving here 8 years ago. Many wonderful things about Utah..but I do miss my lemon tree, avocados and guavas!
Have a wonderful week!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi friends,

Do I miss Maine? Well, yes and no. I love living on the sea, I love the simplicity of our existence there, I love our friends there, the town of Damariscotta, walking down Main St. and greeting people, visiting Maine Coast Books and having Sue or Laurie or Kathleen or Susan lead me to the "best new book you HAVE to read."

I miss waking up to the sun rising over Pemaquid Point, to the loons calling, to the scent of firs and a crackling fire in our fireplace, but I LOVE being close to my family and friends here in California. I love picking strawberries, figs, and guavas and squeezing fresh oranges for the first sip of sunshine.

Luckily right now I can experience both worlds and for that I am grateful.

Sending love,


Lili said...

Hello again Sharon dear! Just wanted you to know that your Lowe's blog post inspired what I wrote about in my latest post on Fearless Nesting. Wishing you a wonderful weekend! xo ~Lili