Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life. ~S.D. Gordon


Easter Eggs Hidden in CrocusI’ve always loved Easter, a joyous season when the earth is reborn in a swell of new life washed with vibrant color, a time of spiritual and physical renewal. I can’t imagine Christ’s resurrection taking place at any other time of year. This is most fitting. As a six-year-old recently returned from an early childhood spent in Taiwan, I delighted in my first egg hunt in a neighbor’s yard filled with blooming crocus and daffodils. Tucked in the green grass and among those shining blossoms were the many-colored eggs, like hidden jewels. Magical. And chocolate rabbits. I was in awe of an American Easter.

Nostalgic Easter PhotographOf course, in those days little girls wore hats and gloves and crinolines under their Easter dresses. Yes, I was born in the 1800’s. I also received my first white Bible on Easter, which is still my favorite one. It had this new book smell and books were quite special back then because my father was an underpaid English professor and we were poor. I just liked smelling my new Bible, but did eventually read much of it. The names of my favorite Sunday School teachers are inked in the front under the section entitled Friends at Church. I must have been a real nerd not to have any children listed. Actually, I know I was.

Another early Easter memory is our family returning home from church and me climbing from the car to bury my face in a golden clump of daffodils by the back doorstep, beaded with rain. Their sweet scent said spring to me. And new life. I always imagined the tomb where Christ was buried and rose again surrounded by daffodils and crocus.

“For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born.”  ~Alice Freeman Palmer

“Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.”  ~Floyd W. Tomkins

“It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls.”  ~Katherine Lee Bates

March has been ‘Right Mixy’


Spring 2015

Years ago, when I asked an Old Order Mennonite woman how her two-year-old daughter was doing, she responded with, ‘Right mixy.’ Which sums up a wee tot and their erratic moods quite well. The term also applies to March in the Shenandoah Valley, and other parts of the country. One day it’s mild and in the 60’s and the next, temps drop to the teens and snow flies. Is it any wonder I’ve been stricken with a respiratory thing, as have many others in the valley. We all long for full-blown spring and more settled weather, and hope to live to see it. Hack, sniffle, honk.

March 6

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” ~Mark Twain

March 5

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.”
~Robert Frost

(I know, but am hopeful April will be kinder.)

***snowdrop, crocus and pussy willow are blooming. Daffodils have just begun. Images by daughter Elise

Spring Fling Multi-Author Book Giveaway


Originally posted on Pink Fuzzy Slippers Authors:

romantic flower bouquetTo celebrate the first day of spring the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Authors are kicking off this loveliest of seasons with a romance giveaway. Each author is contributing one eBook in kindle or nook book to be awarded to the lucky winner, selected from the visitors who leave us a comment. We’ll announce the recipient of all these books on Monday. Comment away, and welcome to our updated blog. We used to be on Blogger, but recently moved to WordPress.

Below are the books we’re offering, an eclectic mix of romance from  a talented bunch of ladies.

From USA Today bestselling author, Mona Risk, a sweet and humorous romance novel,  her new release, WEDDING SURPRISE:

Monas CoverBlurb: Two weeks before their wedding, Claire and David receive an unexpected announcement that can destroy their relationship. Is their love for each other strong enough to turn the worst wedding surprise into the best?

View original 2,622 more words

Anyone Up for Catching a Leprechaun?


leprechaun (1)It’s been snowy, so leprechauns may not be out yet. But the white stuff is melting and spring on its way to the valley, so maybe. According to the small people in the family, in order to catch one, you dig a shallow hole–deeper, if you’re in a digging mood–beneath the old maple tree in our front yard, then disguise it with twigs and sticks, fallen from the tree, and add some tempting leaves and flower petals. The clover isn’t really out yet, and the best blossoms they can find are tiny white snowdrops. The idea is similar to a tiger trap, the thinking being that the unsuspecting leprechaun will tumble into the trap and stay there until discovered by eager youngsters. What they’d do with one if they caught it, hasn’t been hotly debated. No one has a clue. I’m not sure they even realize these magical little guys have a bag of gold at the end of the rainbow, or that they’re required to grant you three wishes upon their release.

Snowdrops one

(Snowdrops blooming in our yard. Image by Elise)

irish shamrocksRecently, six yr old granddaughter Emma asked her Aunt Elise if leprechauns actually exist. Elise said that all depends on who you ask. Many would say ‘yes’ and there are a lot of stories about leprechauns. Satisfied, Emma returned to her task. Heaven knows our resident fairy expert, my niece Cailin, knows about leprechauns. They fall into her area of expertise, as they’re a type of fairy in Irish folklore. Nine yr old grandson, Ian, the original instigator of the annual trap laying, had a theory that a leprechaun hitched a ride to his school in the pot of shamrocks his teacher brought to class, found its way into his backpack, and then ultimately my yard. I’m told I have highly fairy, and likely, leprechaun friendly gardens with all my herbs and flowers. Scant this year, though, until warmer winds blow favorably upon our realm. It’s been a long winter.

Last spring, Elise dipped the small foot of a doll into green paint and walked her around the trap, to give the kids a thrill. Just missing a leprechaun is almost as good as snaring one.

darby-ogill-and-king-brian-shar

Who remembers Darby O’Gill and the Little People? I saw the film years after it first came out in 1959, when my children were young, but we all found it enchanting. Although the banshee scared the bejeebers out of us and seeing Sean Connery with dark brown hair and singing was rather a shock for me. He was much younger then. I was a preschooler in ’59, only they didn’t have preschool in those days. Plus, I was in Taiwan where I spent much of my early childhood and they most definitely did not have leprechauns. Dragons, however, are another matter.

(Image of Darby O’Gill and King Brian)

leprechaun“Magic
Sandra’s seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I’ve had to make myself.”
― Shel SilversteinWhere the Sidewalk Ends

***This is a repost from last March, but very fitting.

Meadowlarks, Pussy Willow, Fussy Geese–Spring in the Shenandoah Valley


“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood

Early spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring is coming to the valley this week, and we’re all ready to kick up our heels after the long winter. The post below is from last year, but it fits.

Grady, soft-coated Wheaton terrior, enjoying spring day

Heavy wet snow fell last night and the trees are laden, my crocus buried. But several afternoons ago after the rain showers ended, the day turned mild and I pulled some overwintering weeds from one of my flower borders. A whole wheelbarrow full. While bent contentedly to my labors, I heard the sweet trill of a meadowlark, my favorite songbird. Silent today. When the sun shines and the weather softens, I will hear it sing again. This crazy weather is typical of early spring in the Shenandoah Valley. A cold snap follows on the heels of a wonderfully balmy day or two. This year has been on the colder side and wet, which is just as well with our tendency toward summer droughts. We’ll take the moisture while we can.

Meadowlark, Eastern MeadowlarkDucks and geese love all the puddles that come with the rain, and our farm pond is finally full again after dwindling to a sad state in the past. Happy quacks resound against the fussy geese fighting over nesting sites. These battles, and the meadowlark singing, are among the first signs of spring. And the pussy willow blooming. I picked a lovely bouquet of pussy willows yesterday. The fuzzy catkins brighten the kitchen in an old mason jar,

Pussy Willow

Back to the meadowlark, my goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be such a challenge, with our meadows and all. Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew. Mostly, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.

Beth, Elise, and Cows

Several years ago, my daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and take its picture, like photographing fairies. We tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek that flows from our pond, but never caught up with that bird, or birds. There may have been more than one taunting us. Unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills. Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting. Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden. Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat. It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape. A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in spring“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

***Images of spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mom, Pat Churchman,  Grady, the soft-coated Wheaton terrier, and pussy willow by daughter Elise. Beth and Elise in our meadow by my husband Dennis. Obviously, I had to purchase the image of the meadowlark

The Lovely Willow and its Cures


“All a green willow is my garland.” ~John Heywood

weeping willow

The beautiful willow tree has an ancient, varied history of use and lore, depending on which culture is referenced. While regarded as a cure-all in America, it had strong pagan associations in early Scotland.

From The Scot’s Herbal by Tess Darwin: “Willows were one of the first trees to appear in Scotland after the last Ice Age and no doubt this versatile species has been used since prehistoric times for a great variety of purposes.

In addition to many practical uses of willows for basketry, rope, house building, fencing, beehives, lobster pots and coracle frames, it was a magic tree. A willow wand symbolized the goddess, and was used for divination—the original magic wand. Willow was one of the druids sacred woods…the word wicca (the craft and wisdom of witches) is said to be derived from the use of willow to make a wicker frame to build an effigy of the Celtic God Balder, king/consort to the queen/goddess, ceremonially sacrificed on Beltane.

Weeping Willow

Fear of the power of willow persisted long into Christian times: witches’ broomsticks sometimes had a willow shaft, and persecuted witches from North Berkshire were said to sail in willow winnowing riddles. In central Perthshire willow wands were reportedly used to work the evil eye. Black magic worked with willow could be counteracted by rowan.

On the other hand, a branch of willow catkins in the home is still believed to bring good health; this may relate to its medicinal uses. The bark contains acetylsalicylic acid (the main constituent of aspirin) and has long been used as a pain killer.”

In America, the willow is considered “one of Nature’s most valuable gifts to mankind.” From Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants by Bradford Angier. He goes on to say, “The North American Indians soon discovered that tea decocted and steeped from the cambium of the majority of willows was important for arthritis and for reducing fever and many pains—this centuries before the isolating and marketing of aspirin. The ashes of burned willow twigs were blended with water and used for gonorrhea.

pussy-willow-hatsWillow roots were powdered with stones and turned to in an effort to dry up sores from syphilis. The settlers soon joined the Indians in using potent teas brewed from the cambium or inner bark of the bitter willows to treat venereal disease. The dried and powdered bitter bark, astringent and detergent, was applied to the navels of newborn babies. It was utilized to stop severe bleeding, as were the crushed young green leaves, the bark, and the seeds, also stuffed up the nostrils to stop nosebleeds. These were also used for toothache.”

And the uses go on, including a spring tonic made of steeped willow roots, an Indian practice adopted by the settlers. The roots were used to kill and expel worms and willow tea to bathe sore eyes. Some settlers also shared in the Indian practice of using pussy willow catkins as an aphrodisiac. Probably in the form of a bark tea, but it doesn’t say.

I vote for spring.

The ‘Magick’ of Ireland with Author Patty Taylor


A warm welcome to my friend and fellow author, Patty Taylor, here to share about her fascinating Irish heritage and upcoming Celtic fantasy romance.

Dunluce Castle #1 edited(Dunluce Castle–This image and all others by Patty Taylor)

Good Morning Everyone. :)  I wish to thank my friend and mentor, Beth, for inviting me as a guest today on her lovely blog. I feel honored to be here and hope I can come back again as soon as my first novel, “Mortal Magick” is released in June by Soul Mate Publishing.. By then, I’ll be able to share my cover and a peek at a few of the other stories I’m currently working on. I write fantasy/paranormal romance with a wee bit of magical lore woven into all my stories. I “love animals”, and enjoy spinning exotic fibers on my spinning wheels where I’ve blended my beloved Samoyeds (dogs) undercoats with alpaca, sheep and even Angora wool. I’m hoping one day for the opportunity to get my hands on some white wolf undercoat (or any wolf’s undercoat), but that’s another story…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Mount Stewart)

I enjoy centering my adventures in various places like Scotland’s mystical Isle of Skye, the magical Glens of Antrim in Northern Ireland and the secluded wilderness of Alaska – where fairies, brownies, shape-shifters and mythical creatures come to life.

The person who influenced me the most to pursue my writing, was my beloved Mother, Evelyn V. Taylor. Her own story of how she came to live in the United States and became a citizen of this country has always inspired me. Born and raised in County Down, Northern Ireland, she served in the British Army during WWII where she met and fell in love with my tall and handsome Daddy, a US Sergeant. Soon after they were married, she crossed the ocean by ship by herself, to wait the arrival of my Daddy’s return to the states. I’ll always admire her strength and courage for beginning a new adventure in a strange country with no family of her own, to start a life with the man she fell in love with and raise a family.  And with the discovery of my father having American Indian heritage, both cultures have made a huge impact on my imagination.

Glens of Antrim, Gorse1(Glens of Antrim with gorse in bloom)

I inherited her superstitions and respectful beliefs in the wee people and fairies, along with her love for reading and storytelling. Mom was the first to introduce me to the magical world of “The Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis. On my last visit to Ireland, my cousin, Yvonne, took me to see the Wardrobe statue outside the library in Belfast and I even sat in the chair. There were happy tears that morning. As a child, I fell in love with the movies Darby O’Gill and the little People and the adventures of Gulliver’s Travels, along with many other Walt Disney Movies she took me to see. To this day, I still tear up watching the “Quiet Man” – one of my mother’s favorites.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My beloved husband, Michael, still comments how he believes I’ll always remain a kid at heart, and I have both my parents to thank for that. Especially my Mom, as I still treasure the wee mustard seed necklace she gave me as a child to teach me about having faith. Without realizing it, she also planted another special gift deep within my heart. To never abandon my dreams, and my love for the enchanting world of fantasy and Magick.

(Patty sitting in front of the famous wardrobe that leads to Narnia.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(Images from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, taken in a Belfast Library. ***Beth has to jump in here to say that this is my favorite author and book. I love all the Chronicles of Narnia, but this one is the best.)

Back to Patty: I feel blessed to be fortunate to visit my Mom’s home for the very 1st time in 2010, and got to see the building where my parents first met, the places she took my Daddy to visit and the mystical country where she was raised.  Like stepping back in time, my imagination ran wild with the reality of finally seeing the magical qualities of this beautiful and amazing country.  I’m delighted to share a few photos from my visit.

And we are delighted to see them, Patty. Wonderful pics!

 lace-cap hydrangea(Fairy flowers–Lace-cap hydrangea)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Fairy tree)

Gorse in bloom(More gorse in bloom with quaint cottages)

I’m also excited to have this wonderful opportunity today to share a wee bit about my first published novel, “Mortal Magick”, a time travel fantasy romance coming this June.

Giant's Causeway stepping stones 1When an immortal Highlander falls in love with a human witch,”Mortal Magick” soon casts a spell of its own. 

Story Blurb:

As Keara, a modern day reluctant witch from Maryland, finds herself whisked back to 18th century mystical Isle of Skye, she’s taught lessons in both magic and love after being rescued by the rugged and extremely handsome Highlander, Duncan McCord. To add a wee touch of “when beauty meets beast” charm to their adventure, along with the mischievous antics of a whimsical Scottish Brownie character, named Darby, Keara soon discovers that Duncan is dealing with a serious problem of his own. He’s been cursed to live a nocturnal life of half man and half beast for eternity.

I hope all of you will help me celebrate and look forward to reading my story, Mortal Magick, and the future sequel, Sea Wolf Magick.   

Get ready for two magical adventures – Journey across the

Mystical Isle of Skye, to the Enchanting land of Fire and Ice . . .”

To find out more about me and my books, please stop by and visit my new  website at:  http://www.pattytaylorauthor.com/ 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also invite you to follow me on Twitter under Patty Taylor, Author, and friend me on Facebook.

Thanks once again to my gracious and kind friend and host, Beth Trissel, for having me here today, and to all of you that took the time to stop by to meet me and leave your comments :)

Lovely to have you, Patty. I look forward to your return to the blog and your exciting new release in June.

(Images of Giant’s Causeway Stepping Stones and Primula Candelabra above)

*** Patty will return in May for a post on spinning and sheep, with pics! I can’t wait. And again in the summer for a post on fairies and when her new book comes out., Then again in the fall for our focus on  C S Lewis, including pics from her next trip to Ireland. We both love The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Chronicles of Narnia.