Life as I know It

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Southern Living Style

Beautiful, charming, welcoming Fairhope, Alabama, rolls out the red carpet for visitors, and the Purple Martin condos for the birds–over 200 hundred of these dot the shallow waters of Mobile Bay.

All along the shore Purple Martin houses are atop tall metal poles. 

Jeff and I walked waaaaay out to the end of the pier, which is a quarter of a mile long. Our walk was on Tuesday night and the effects of Sandy were felt even here in Mobile Bay–big choppy waves and wild winds.

An ancient oak stands on a rise above the bay. This porch swing, hanging from a branch, was an invitation to linger and dream.

Fairhope is so beautiful and amazing. I couldn't stop walking around the old neighborhoods, peeping into yards, and imagining what it would be like to live in one of the great houses, surrounded by the arms of giant trees.

Do you love the pumpkin gate?

I wanted to stop and work in this yard. So inviting.

This cozy home is on the historic register.

Scarlet O'Hara, where are you?

The streets of old Fairhope have flower beds and baskets on every corner.

Even their waste bins are lovely. They request, in a very polite way, that you place your waste inside. That white box on the right side, which is topped with flowers, is one of their trash cans.

I wonder why this is called the "Hobbit Castle?" It is also on the Historic Register of Fairhope.

This little gypsy cart (haven't we all dreamed of one?) sits outside the house.

Another of the "Hobbit Houses."

Uh oh. Good thing our car is crammed to the roof.  

Inside the gates–a gardener's dream scape.

I don't know why, but I love these old, metal tubs. A friend of mine has planted some lovely birches inside her tubs. They look great.

These simple stone balls look elegant when grouped together in a landscape, especially when they're nestled on a bed of thyme.

I've always wanted one of these old French stone basins for my garden. I saw one of them in a garden in Austin. The gardener-designers had a small copper tube above theirs that dripped water into the basin. It was lovely.

And here is the cook's dreamscape. This is Aubergine, a store filled with antique culinary treasures.

I think some of my friends would love to tote a few of these French treasures home with them.

And next door to Aubergine, you'll find this sweet little shop, Boxwood-Home and Garden.

Inside Boxwood.

Everywhere we walked we found beauty. Love the fanciful ironwork, and the fact that there are flowers and rocking chairs everywhere...even in front of the ATM at a bank.

So my friends, this is a brief walking tour of a town we really loved. Soon you will see some of it in the pages of Southern Living magazine, but you may have already enjoyed it in Victoria. I think you would love to visit here during the cooler months.

Jeff and I are in Jackson, Mississippi now. Early tomorrow morning I will be teaching a large group of second graders about birds. It will be so much fun and filled with their energy and sense of wonder.

I leave you with the hopes that you are safe and sound. So many have been hurt and left homeless because of hurricane Sandy. We have just learned that our tiny seaside cottage Fox Drink Ledges is safe, although the waves were huge and thundering.

I am donating money from book sales to the Red Cross. I hope you will join me and hundreds of thousands of Americans who are going to do the same. We all need to stick together and help each other, especially NOW.

Sending love from the road,


P.S. If you live anywhere near Austin, Texas, please join me at The Natural Gardener on Saturday, November the 3rd at 11:30 a.m.,  for an outdoor, under-the-tent demo and talk about gardening, birds, and life in general. You're all welcome, and it is free of charge. I'll be doing a book signing afterward.

Monday, November 5, at 5:30 p.m., I will be giving a talk for the Stephenville Organic Gardening Club at the fabulous GreenMaker Nursery in Stephenville, Texas, north of Austin and southwest of Dallas. Come join us for a good time and, hopefully, some good and fun information about organic gardening and gardening with an eye to nature.

Wednesday, November 7,  I'll be visiting with Linda Lehmusvirta and Tom Spencer at "Central Texas Gardener" on KRLU. We'll film a segment for one of their upcoming episodes. This is one of my favorite television shows for dedicated gardeners. To watch my previous appearance, click here.

Sunday, November 11, at 11:00 a.m., come visit me at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. I'll be giving a program about birds for adults, but children are welcome.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Whispering Pines and Welcoming Porches

A long line of porch rockers welcomes weary travelers, and Jeff and I are two of those weary ones. We spent some nights at The Carolina, a gracious and welcome respite from city hotels and roadside motels. What a difference it was to slip into the slow time stream of 1895, when people sat quietly in porch rockers, read, talked, and dreamed. We needed this break, and we are so grateful to have experienced this southern tradition.

The Carolina in Pinehurst,  North Carolina.

Dear Friends,

Oops, I had written volumes about the trip, the wonderful people we've met, who have welcomed us into their homes, and the glorious towns we've visited, but I just deleted everything with one clumsy click of the fingers. So you're spared a long, rambling posting, but you're still able to see the sweet houses and porches tucked among the whispering pines and oak trees (yippee, they're dropping acorns and my pockets are brimming).

What a joy to meander through the quiet, shaded streets of Pinehurst. We needed the peaceful walks, the sound of the wind whispering through pine needles, the clatter of acorns falling onto tin roofs, the drifts of camellia petals that drifted past us on the warm, autumn breezes. 

Honeysuckle Cottage

We're not the only ones peeking into gardens and porches.

The formal porch of the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities, which is where my talk and book signing were hosted by The Garden Club of the Sandhills and The Country Bookshop of Southern Pines, North Carolina. The Weymouth House is a treasure you must see.

So now I must finish packing and move on to our next stop. I'll be speaking at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina, and then driving for four hours to South Carolina and the Treasure Coast Bird Festival in Vero Beach, Florida. 

Thank you so much to all our hosts and hostesses along the way. And, to all the independent bookstore owners and staff, the librarians, children, and caring adults who are working to make this book tour a success. Oh, and to the birds, thank you, too.



P.S. Luke weighs FIVE pounds!

P.P. S. Jeff here. To watch the video from Cincinnati TV interview, click here (after a brief commercial). 

Listen to "Gardening Naturally" with John Dromgoole this Saturday, from 9-11 CST, on KLBJ 590 AM from Austin, Texas.