Life as I know It

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

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Lizard on my Doorstep-A Dragonfly on my Peach

I stepped into my slippers and padded outdoors to pick the fresh peach that was near perfection. Waiting for me was something much more magical than anything I'd expected, but then, that is what a garden gives IF you take the time to look.

I sat on the steps next to this fence lizard, and after a few minutes reached over and ran my fingers down his (or her) back a few times. I've never given a back rub to a lizard before.

Dear Friends,

Being ill can slow you until you feel like an insect trapped in amber. That is how I felt this past week as I tried to draw, write, and work. I ended up just crawling back into bed. Sleep is such a powerful healer, and I finally caught up on the hours I've missed the past few months.

The great thing about not being able to do much is that you open like a flower to the tiny changes and life surrounding you.

Whenever I could pull myself out of my cocoon, I would wander the garden for a few minutes with my camera in hand. The most exciting shot was of the dragonfly who remained there in a perfect pose, perched on the ripest peach in my tree. I felt so lucky to catch the shot.

One morning after spending a long night coughing, I could barely make it down the steps, but when I walked out to my herb courtyard, a Monarch was sipping at a verbena. Look closely and you can see the long proboscis probing the bloom.

Below the Monarch, a flighty skipper danced through the flowers. See the clubbed antennae? This is a great way to identify skippers, but once you know them, you know them; the way they hold their wings, their shape, and their flight patterns are simply skipper.

This ragged Mourning Cloak butterfly is an inspiration to me. She has been in my garden for months. She over-wintered somewhere in the tree bark or behind a planter. She is tattered and torn, but she continues to be a butterfly, albeit WALKING from low flower to low flower. Mourning Cloaks (named for their dark wings, which looked like mourning clothes) abounded in my Grandmother Lovejoy's garden. I would catch them, and they would crawl out of my hand and sip at the salt and minerals on my arms.

My paradise

You're looking at what was once a blank canvas. Now hollyhocks jostle with grapes, the apricot stretches its arms, figs nestle against the back wall, and the guava hedge is the center of activity for the mockingbirds who love the flower petals.

We are not able to leave for Maine until later in the summer. We live here; the cove is Little Harbor, our cottage sits on the edge of a huge ledge. My heart is here, but my job and responsibilities keep me in California for awhile. Sigh.

I must finish my book and go on a whirlwind book tour in Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Wichita from July 25-30. Although I am so sad to be arriving in Maine later than usual, I'll be able to attend my sweet granddaughter Sara's birthday earlier in July and also harvest and eat some of the many tree fruits and berries we planted in the past four years. Grapes started from single twigs are now taller than the eight foot arbor and bearing heavily. Figs are bending under the weight of ripening fruits, apples are loaded and just did another flush of bloom so I am hoping for lots of apples. Apricots, nectarines, peaches...ahh, the cobblers I'll make. 

Sweet little Pink Ladies bloomed again last week.

I spent lots of time in the apricot trees in my Grandmother's garden. I loved these so much that my best pal Ricky and I ate them green and hard as golf balls, and NO, we never got stomach aches. Isn't that the most glorious color?

And speaking of glorious color and shape and taste, this fresh chard looks like a tree! We're having friends over tomorrow night, and I am going to bake wild Alaskan salmon on a bed of chard. Oh, I don't like cutting this up so I think I'll save some of it and...

...make a kitchen bouquet

I think that the chard is as beautiful as the sweet peas I picked today; they just don't smell quite as good. The artichokes are for tomorrow night's dinner. I trimmed their tips, cut them in half, and added chopped fresh garlic, squeezed fresh picked lime inside them, and drizzled them with Tiber Canyon lemon olive oil topped with sea salt. I covered them with a wet paper towel, squeezed lime on the towel, and microwaved them for ten minutes (which was tooooooo long) try this for a shorter time and test doneness by gently tugging off a leaf. Next batch was 7 minutes...much better. My friend Susie Bassetti does these this way and at the end she tosses them onto a grill....yum. Removed them from the microwave, scooped out the "choke" bristles, squeezed more lime inside them, filled the hollow halves with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and slipped them into a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. Tomorrow night, just before we sit down to dinner, I will slip them under the broiler for a minute. Yummy.

Today was my first day of feeling like myself. Is that good? I'm not sure, but I've got energy again and I am thrilled with the ever changing, bountiful garden so filled with life. Oh yes, and I must go out and visit the Mourning Cloak butterfly again. She humbles me.

All joys to you. Now back to work!


P.S. Please be sure to leave a comment on this blog posting to be entered in the fabulous house number give-away provided by the Danish company Ramsign. The numbers are hand-crafted of porcelain enamel. They'll outlast me. These are going to be shipped to you at no charge-no matter where you live. Your comments must be posted by Saturday, June 18th, and the drawing will be on Sunday.

P.P. S. Thanks for all your wonderful e-mails and letters. Four of you mentioned Teri's request to see my work space in Mockingbird Studio. Uh, let me tidy it up a bit and next week I will share it with you. Right now there are over a hundred bird paintings strewn across every flat surface. Until next week!

Mockingbird Studio


susanc said...

What delightful surprises you saw! I have a little fence lizard that lives in my garden and I stop and talk to it every day! I haven't been able to pet it, but I love the way it's eyes take in everything!

I have a Mourning Cloak Butterfly that just loves the Butterfly Bushes. He/She spends a lot of time there and I love watching it!

Your garden is truly paradise - it's beautiful. Thank you for sharing! :)

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I'm sorry to hear you weren't feeling well, but glad you are getting better now. Just in time to enjoy your garden. I loved the tour of your pretty courtyard. Your whole garden has such a nice cozy and homey feel to it.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

What a wonderful post ! I have grown herbs for years but I have not enjoyed them the way you do because I have let myself get too busy with sheer nonsense. We hope to move soon (after selling our way too big farm) and build a tiny house with tiny gardens. I will definately be using your garden for inspiration. Hope you feel better soon !


Hi Sharon, I'm glad you're feeling better. A friend of mine was sick for weeks with that bug. It really takes its toll doesn't it? Love your garden photos and that chard leaf is amazing.

Anonymous said...

wow, I'm so sorry to hear you've been ill, thats a sad thing for sure with so much going on in your garden.Your photos are lovely as always and such a joy to see.How many people can say,, I have a lizard on my doorstep and Butterfly on my peach,,, thats priceless.I hope you're on the road to recovery and have nothing but sunshine and soft rain to help your garden grow so its beauty will help you heal,

Pat said...

Hope you are well on the way to recovery...hard as it is to pace ourselves when so much needs doing!

Your fresh fruits look luscious...our gardens are still in the nursery stage after a very cold spring.
But we had our own Alaska salmon for dinner tonight - caught last Fall when we were in Valdez. Nothing like it!

Lori ann said...

dear sharon,
yes! it's good that you are feeling like you again, we need sharon lovejoy!

every time i visit here and 'walk' through your gardens i have the same feeling, one of awe and peace (and abundance). i am so envious of all your fruit trees, that peach looks wonderful.

i hope you won't be too disappointed having to wait for your beloved maine, but i am so looking forward to your new book, birds!!

i LOVE the house number (i love scandanavian design) oh, and mockingbird studio!

sending love up the coast,

farmlady said...

This is kind of a coincidence but I was rereading the Early Spring issue of Country Gardens today and saw, again, the wonderful pages on your Garden of Earthly Delights. I show it to my husband because he is going to build me a potting shed and I wanted him to see how one is incorporated into a garden. I reread the article and loved your comment about being "inspired by an abundant curiosity for all living things" and wearing your nightgown and carrying tea out into the morning garden.
I loved this post because it brought back the lovely vision of your garden in San Luis Obispo. I can see the "joy factor" that you talk about. I think it is making you well again.
Here's to dragonflies in Peach trees and Monarchs on Verbena.
Take care...

Pondside said...

I'm glad that you're now feeling well enough to be out in your herb courtyard with your camera. I certainly enjoyed that little tour to the sound of the tinkling water.
Take care of yourself - it sounds like you have a busy schedule ahead.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

what a lovely little herb garden. that is all i am growing this year because of the stink bug problem all over the eastern usa. they are almost everywhere now. glad to hear you are feeling better. i am still dreaming of new england, especially maine. i saw a wonderful home for sale yesterday in kennebunkport. one of these days. even my kids are asking to move there!

Darla said...

I do hope you continue to feel better. We have had to race the critters to our peaches. Love to see the butterflies enjoying the flowers. That is an impressive chard leaf. Looking forward to the tour of Mockingbird Studio!

Cristy said...

Love the lizard.

Anonymous said...

Love the idea of the kitchen bouquet made with the chard!

Anonymous said...

Darling Girl, I'm relieved you're feeling more yourself again. That is one nasty virus, and it tries to hang onto us like a bad suit of clothes. Thank you for the video. It was great to hear your sweet voice. I'm sorry you're not able to go to Maine yet, but CA must be a bit of paradise also with all that fruit. I can't imagine. The blackberries are ripening in my lower garden, and I'm going to see if I have enough for a cobbler. xoxo~~Dee

Rebecca said...

Glad that you've taken the time to rest & recover and are able to post again.

It's inspiring to see and hear how you maximize your time and talent. You always bring such beauty and grace to your space, friend, family and followers.

Thank you for that...

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Glad you hear your voice dear Sharon and hope that you get stronger each day so you are ready for your book tour! Getting ready for an adventure when Jekka comes next week and then off across the pond. The garden will suffer! Love your herbal courtyard. I'm off to plant roses. Talk to you later. xxoo Nancy

Vee said...

So sorry to read that you've been under the weather. I had just assumed that you were busy with the book. Very glad to read that energy has returned for it sounds as if you are going to need it.

As for Maine, perhaps when the weather warms and the winds blow easy, you'll be on your way. Just now, it's about as miserable a place as anyone could hope to avoid. ☺

I love your chard "tree." Beautiful.

All the best as you finish up on the book!

kj said...

sharon, sweet post. there is so much to say.

first of all, i hope you are well and strong again. it sounds like you have plenty of adventure ahead (oh maine)

i just love seeing your world. the colors in the swiss chard are unbelievably vibrant. made into a flower arrangement: hahaha, fantastic!

i can't wait to see your book on birds. and your mockingbird studio is just adorable.

i could go on. but i also have an ulterior motive this morning: i want you to come to my blog when you have time because i want you to see my neighborhood and yard in provincetown. when i looked at my photos, for some reason, i thought of you and i thought i hope sharon gets a kick of this space of mine.

by the time you get to maine, the ocean temps will be 10 degrees warmer. that's a nice thought, right?

with love sharon,
have fun

Robin Larkspur said...

So glad you are feeling better; such a wonderful garden to recover in. It is amazing how a bare space was transformed in four years to grapes so tall, and luscious fruit everywhere. truly inspiring, both you and your garden.

Unknown said...

I am glad you are feeling better. It must be wonderful having 2 such magical places (in CA and ME)! Your photos are beautiful as always and I think I will return again and again over the week to savor them and be inspired in my own gardening.

Larkrise garden girl said...

Hi Sharon, Illness makes us stop and pause and when we feel better we enjoy our life ever so much. This last month was a trying month. So glad to be back weeding and watching the butterflies in my garden. Your post is such a bright moment to see what your up to in your garden.It always makes me smile Cheri

torchy said...

Just this past week, I introduced my little grand-girls to the taste of their first artichokes. They loved the novelty of pulling off leaves and scraping the meat with their teeth. I can hardly wait to try YOUR recipe on them next week! Thank you. Carol

Lili said...

Your post title is so delightful Sharon, I just knew we were in for another wonderful episode in your garden! I always love seeing how you incorporate the unexpected into your decor. That chard is gorgeous and then your idea to bake the salmon on a bed of it is another example of why I admire you so much. Such a simple idea, yet so creative! For consolation, it is still quite chilly here in Maine and I doubt very much that it will completely warm until near August. How does that sound? (Well okay we've had a few warm days, but they are few and far in between!) Besides I think it would be equally hard to leave your garden there before you got a chance to make those fresh fruit cobblers! Yum. xoxo ~Lili

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Hope you're feeling back up to your normal self as you have many exciting places to visit and people to talk to. So nice to have a little paradise to explore when you want a pick me up. I would not have stroked the lizard, but you go right ahead!

Wylie said...

I would love to win a house number for my little house! No. 24!

Your garden is absolutely gorgeous!

From the Kitchen said...

Dear Friend: I am always charmed by your posts and this is one of the most charming! I'm sure a walk through your garden must have energized you after a long night of coughing. I can truly relate to that as I spent almost two weeks doing the same. I spent the days slowly ambling about in a fugue state!! I'm looking forward to a studio visit soon!

Take good care.


Little Bird said...

I always receive a big dose of joy & inspiration on your blog, dear Sharon! Thank you for this! Glad you are yourself again. We have more lizards this summer in our NM garden than I have ever-ever seen here before! Fascinating!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I'm sorry you've been so ill! At least you know the right way to heal yourself...sleep and walks in the garden :) Enjoyed your video tour. The sound of the fountain is so peaceful.

Thistledown Farm said...

I love every post you make. Someday maybe my gardens will be a fraction as beautiful of yours, I'll be in bliss! Thank you for making me happy today.

Meredith said...

I will have to try your recipe for artichokes! I can only imagine how glorious your kitchen smelled!! :D Your gardens are such an inspiration to me. Thank you so much for being so open and sharing!

tamlovesran said...

Sorry that you've been feeling ill, but glad that you're starting to feel better. Hope you have a great summer and keep sharing those lovely photos!


Teri said...

What a dream-come-true to have two coast homes but on opposite sides of the country. I know what you mean when you speak of Maine. I have only visited there once but I feel immediately in love. And I would love to have a place there. What a wonderful feeling you get when you are there. Thanks for thinking about posting photos of your studio. I took your advice and looked it up on your blog and it is wonderful! Love the shape and the amount of space you have inside. What an inspirational place to draw and create. I'm happy that you are feeling better. I'm sorry that it had you down and out for a bit but it looks as if the garden is calling you once again and that is so therapeutic in itself. All my best.

Glynis Peters said...

What an adorable post, (not the bit about you being ill, get better soon).

I loved the walk in your garden area, and envy you your fountain. I will have to nag at DH again, I do so want one in our garden.

Take care

Stacey said...

Sharon, just joined your Grimy Hands Girls Club. :) Love it!

I'm glad you are feeling a little better. Being sick is the worst! Even a little cold can be such a drag on your spirit. The garden definitely motivates.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear you've been so sick, Sharon. Going at the pace that you do, though, I'm not surprised. Take care of yourself and gently ease back into work, ok? Sending you healing thoughts....Rebecca

nana pam said...

sorry to hear you have been sick, Sharon. I am eagerly awaiting your bird book for my granddaughter Maddie who is almost 5 and loves birds. I think I mentioned her before and the fact I was so very happy you were writing the book as I couldn't find a bird book appropriate for her,
Anyway your pictures are beautiful and I envy you the wonderful fruits of living in Calif. which is truly a paradise. (I love Maine, too-in summer)
It is not even 60 degrees here in Finger lakes area of NYS-no spring for us and the planting is still going on. We have not even seen homegrown strawberries yet but are hoping. My knock out roses however are a bright spot and in full bloom. I wish I knew how to do pictures on this thing.
Joy to you-Pam G.

Jimmie said...

Hello Dear Sharon,

I'm glad you're feeling better now. Sweet little tatered butterfly. Cutie pie little lizard. Lately I've been playing hide and seek with a blue tailed lizard who likes to hang out around my strawberry jar. Sometimes when I water the sedums growing in the jar, she (I chose to decide that she is female) pops out from the top and scurries away. I think she must know that I won't be there long, so she doesn't go far. She inspired me to paint one of those plastic lizards that you can pick up at the dollar store a shiny gold and I embellished her with glittery jewels. I even painted her toenails bright pink. She's quite gaudy and I've named her Is-a-Bella Liz-ard because she is very beautiful to me. I pin her on my shoulder and she goes to the grocery store with me sometimes.

I've been petting the leopard frogs who live near my fish pond. I have to sneak up on them and rub their backs...they think I'm mating with them, I expect. The leopard frogs are so wonderful. Do you know that you are responsible for my studying frogs and toads much more intently? Thank you for that.

Also been watching alot of cocoons hoping to see something emerge. I need to research to see what kind of cocoons they are...I think and hope they are praying mantises.

Can hardly wait for your new book!!

Love from Diane in North Carolina

Aunt Jenny said...

Oh Sharon...what fun to have a little tour like that. I just love your photos and hearing your voice was so nice.
Your place is so inspiring to me. I am just getting going good in our growing season place seems to look it's very best in July...thats what I am shooting for this year as well.
You take it easy!
Love,Aunt Jenny in Utah

Cindy said...

Glad you are feeling better. I always think how wonderful to stop and rest for a few days, but when I am sick, I hate resting! Your garden is lovely, and I'm sure the one in Maine is too.

Thea said...

Dearest, so glad you are feeling better. Perhaps you just needed the rest. Hugs, Thea (Sometimes you feel like a monarch, sometimes you feel like a mourning cloak. and sometimes it's a good goal to be a flightly oh, and my Verbena is blooming, too! xo

Anonymous said...

What wonderful friends to greet you when you are not feeling well! Friends of the garden, the most wonderful friends of all :)

Zuzana said...

Dear Sharon, I always enjoy your beautiful images and today I enjoyed watching the clip as well.
So many wonderful natural wonders greeted you - I do believe there is so much beauty in nature if we only take time to took.
Glad you are feeling better and hope you have recovered by now.

Barbara said...

Dear Sharon, I just discovered your blog and it's just wonderful. I love that you featured the skipper. While the occasional beautiful butterfly comes to visit my garden, it's the skippers that keep me daily company. Barbara

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Welcome Barbara...glad you found me in this vast world of blogs. Amazing!

Yes, the skippers give me so much pleasure and they are good company.



At Home in English Valley said...

Dear Sharon, My daughter just came to visit from NY city with a book for me...Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars. This was a bit of serendipity, since you commented on my blog a while back when I first started out. I don't know how you found my little blog, but your comment meant so much. I love your book already and and can't wait to share it with my little great niece. I hope that you are back to your healthy self very soon.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Welcome! I hope that you enjoy Toad Cottages & Shooting was truly a labor of love...and the book pages are filled with photos of my grandchildren, Moses, Sara May, Ilyahna, and Asher. These photos made it all the more personal for me.

Wishing you a poketful of joy,


*Ulrike* said...

There is something about after feeling ill and being in bed to be able to get up, walk around outside, and just enjoy the freshness of all of it! Love the photos of the lizard and especially the dragonfly on the peach, now how cool is that? I also enjoyed your outdoor tour, and the sound of the water in the background. We are enlarging our little pond so it will be interesting to see how many more frogs and fish we will have in it. Hope the rest of your week will get better, and that you will be out and about in no time!

My Mother's Garden said...

Hi Sharon, I just discovered you on facebook which led me to your wonderful blog. I so enjoyed reading your post and was thrilled to realize that I have your Trowel and Error book. When you connect with the creator of something it makes it all that more special! I hope you're feeling better soon.

libbyquilter said...

oh~!~talk about discoveries~!
i'm so pleased that you left a comment on my blog becuase now i have discovered YOU.

that first shot of the dragonfly on the peach is so so so wonderful~!

i hope you continue to feel much better and thank you so much for the delightful sharing you put into this post.


One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Enjoyed my visit - as always.
Enjoy your words and images.
Always leave with a sense of peace and a smile on my face.
Take care and rest - even when you feel fine.

Lydia said...

Godspeed in your healing. What would we (and Jeff) do without you.

Kay's flowers said...

So glad you're feeling better! No fun to be so ill. The garden tour was so charming, I loved it. You have such an eye for placement. Will have to try artichokes that way. It sounds yummy.

Can't wait for your new book tocome out. Many blessings to you.


Anonymous said...

It's always a delight to visit your home Sharon. I'm glad you are feeling better. Being sick always makes me appreciate feeling good all that much more.
I love the look of your Studio!

Rosemary said...

So enjoyed my visit to your home and garden..... It is always amazing how such little things in the garden bring joy.... Take care and glad you are starting to feel like yourself.

Folkways Note Book said...

Nice that you are regaining your energy. Like your story of the mourning cloak. Nature humbles me also. My hope is that my grandchildren will be able to know the earth as I have known it. Your studio is charming, also a lovely garden. -- barbara

Vicki Boster said...

Hi Sharon- I am so happy to see that you have finally caught up with your rest and am back to being yourself. Exhaustion is a horrible feeling- we've all been there.

Your flowers are gorgeous- I love seeing what's in bloom in your magnificent gardens. The photos are amazing. Add me to the folks who would love to see your little studio.

I can feel your new found energy in this beautiful post- and am so happy that you are well again--

Thea said...

hey boss, just checking in to let you know that I was a grimy hands girl today. dirty fingers, broken nails, cleaned up garden! officially grimy I am! xo

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear Thea,

Good grimy handed girl! I'm proud of you!

I haven't been able to post because I have been earlobe deep in the bird book...all text is due July 5th, all art due on August 15th and in between that I have a one week blitz of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. YIKES.

Miss you all, but will do the posting of my studio soon.


Carol said...

Dear Sharon, What a delightful shot of the lizard climbing over the fence! All these photos are wonderful in featuring the details in your world. I love the image of your Maine cottage!!! How you must love living on the edge of the world there. Good luck with your book completion!!