Tag Archives: Hal Borland

Our Frosty Autumn Garden in the Shenandoah Valley–Beth Trissel


“Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow.”
–   Author Unknown

“I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand, shadowless like Silence, listening
To Silence.”
–   Thomas Hood

“…the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
 in the sun.”
–   W. S. Merwin,  
The Love of October

“Then summer fades and passes and October comes.  We’ll smell smoke then,
and feel an unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness, swift elation, a
sense of sadness and departure.”
–   Thomas Wolfe

“Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity;
but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.  What man can stand with autumn
on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling
hills that reach to the far horizon?
–   Hal Borland

“There ought to be gardens for all months in the year,
in which, severally, things of beauty may be then in season.”
–  Sir Francis Bacon

“Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies
a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and
chilled.  The season comes full with the first frost, the
disappearance of migrant birds, and the harvesting of
the season’s last crops.”
–   Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis

“Thy bounty shines in autumn unconfined
And spreads a common feast for all that live.”
–   James Thomson

“The wind-blown leaves turn
Dancing the golden sunlight
across the tired floor.”
–   Matt Dimmic

***Photographs of our garden by my talented daughter Elise

“You Can’t be Suspicious of a Tree, or Accuse a Bird or a Squirrel of Subversion…”


Some lovely thoughts and images on this fine spring day~
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”  ~Henry David Thoreau
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kind.”  William Shakespeare
“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees.  The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets.
It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day.  It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful.  Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”  ~Hamlin GarlandMcClure’s, February 1899

“You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”

~Hal BorlandSundial of the Seasons, 1964

“Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,
I keep it staying at Home –
With a bobolink for a Chorister,
And an Orchard, for a Dome.”
~Emily Dickinson

“Joy all creatures drink
At nature’s bosoms…”
~Friedrich von Schiller, “Ode to Joy,” 1785, translated from German

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.
Aristotle –

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.”  ~Jane Austen

“I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.  Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”  ~Wendell Berry

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”
~George Gordon, Lord ByronChilde Harold’s Pilgrimage

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.  This is not done by jostling in the street.”  ~William Blake

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”  ~Helen Keller

“To one who has been long in city pent,
‘Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven, – to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.”
~John Keats, Sonnet XIV

“Fieldes have eies and woods have eares.”  ~John Heywood, 1565

“You must not know too much, or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and water-craft; a certain free margin, and even vagueness – perhaps ignorance, credulity – helps your enjoyment of these things…”  ~Walt WhitmanSpecimen Days, “Birds – And a Caution”  (Thanks, Corinne)

“Butterflies are self propelled flowers.”  ~R.H. Heinlein

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”  ~Author Unknown

*Images of the green-gold trees, the baby goose and kitten, the Shenandoah Valley in early spring and the nesting duck are by my mom.  The black swallowtail butterfly is by daughter Elise.  Dark Hollow Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a royalty free pic.

***For gardeners, nature lovers, anyone who thinks fondly of country life, or is just plain human…you might enjoy my nonfiction book out in kindle now, in nookbook by April, and soon out in print with beautiful pics, a 2012 EPIC eBOOK FINALIST, Shenandoah Watercolors.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. ~William Shakespeare


“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

*Image by my talented photographer brother John Churchman.

“You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”  ~Hal BorlandSundial of the Seasons, 1964

“Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,
I keep it staying at Home –
With a bobolink for a Chorister,
And an Orchard, for a Dome.”
~Emily Dickinson

“Joy all creatures drink
At nature’s bosoms…”
~Friedrich von Schiller, “Ode to Joy,” 1785, translated from German

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.”  ~Jane Austen

“I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.  Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”  ~Wendell Berry

“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees.  The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets.  It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day.  It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful.  Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”  ~Hamlin GarlandMcClure’s, February 1899

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”
~George Gordon, Lord ByronChilde Harold’s Pilgrimage

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.  This is not done by jostling in the street.”  ~William Blake

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”  ~Helen Keller

“To one who has been long in city pent,
‘Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven, – to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.”
~John Keats, Sonnet XIV

“Fieldes have eies and woods have eares.”  ~John Heywood, 1565

“You must not know too much, or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and water-craft; a certain free margin, and even vagueness – perhaps ignorance, credulity – helps your enjoyment of these things…”  ~Walt WhitmanSpecimen Days, “Birds – And a Caution”  (Thanks, Corinne)

“Butterflies are self propelled flowers.”  ~R.H. Heinlein

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”  ~Author Unknown

Images by my mom and daughter Elise

April On Our Farm in the Shenandoah Valley


So far this spring is filled with remodeling our old farm-house, and gardening, when it’s not raining,  and all the small people in my life, though not as much writing as I would like.  The remodeling is at an end, for now–there’s always more to be done in future projects.

Weather wise, we’ve gone from a gradually diminishing drought to flood watches out today.  April 2011 is turning into quite a wet month.  I’m not sure what ‘normal’ is in the Shenandoah Valley, but I’d prefer less extremes.   Still, I seek for the beauty amid the imperfection and this spring is sublime.  Thought I’d share a few pics of our farm along with some favorite quotes.

“April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.”  ~Christopher Morley,  John Mistletoe

“Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.  It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.”  ~Charles Dudley Warner

“The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!”
~Robert Browning

“April is a promise that May is bound to keep.”  ~Hal Borland

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”  ~Iris MurdochA Fairly Honourable Defeat

“To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat. ” ~Beverly Nichols

“Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Flowers really do intoxicate me.”  ~Vita Sackville-West

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”  ~Gertrude S. Wister

“Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.  They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.”  ~Lydia M. Child

“Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

“Cares melt when you kneel in your garden.”

“A garden is a friend you can visit any time.”

“Kiss of the sun for pardon. Song of the birds for mirth. You’re closer to God’s heart in a garden than any place else on earth.” — Dorothy Frances Gurney

“But each spring…a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.” ~Lewis Gantt

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” — Henry David Thoreau

“It is a greater act of faith to plant a bulb than to plant a tree.”~Clare Leighton

“To dig one’s own spade into one’s own earth! Has life anything better to offer than this?”~Beverley Nichols

“Every spring is the only spring-a perpetual astonishment.”~Ellis Peters


“Spring has returned.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Awake, thou wintry earth –
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, “An Easter Hymn”

*The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  Photographs by my mom, Pat Churchman

“April is a promise that May is bound to keep.”  ~Hal Borland

“Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.”
~Albert Laighton

“And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant

*Virginia Bluebells in my garden, flowers given to me by my grandmother.

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?”  ~Edward Giobbi

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

*Poppies and iris in the garden.

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”  ~William Shakespeare

“Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!”
~L.H. Bailey

“If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.”  ~Nadine Stair

*Country Lane in the valley.

“Spring in verses,
Verses in spring.”
~Violet Gartenlicht

“Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire.”  ~Virgil

*A country roadside not far from our farm.

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.”
~Bern Williams

“Spring is when life’s alive in everything.”
~Christina Rossetti

“The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven–
All’s right with the world!”
~Robert Browning

*My parent’s yard.

“A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.”
~Emily Dickinson

“Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil.”
~Bishop Reginald Heber

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils.”
~William Wordsworth

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~Proverb


March is a ‘right mixy’ month, to use a country expression.  Last week’s balmy warmth was followed by snow and today is cold, cold, cold, followed by a projected warm spell and then more snow to round out this month of extreme weather contrasts.  But that’s early spring in the Shenandoah Valley.

I grieve for the foolish apricot tree lured into bloom by the warmth, then zapped by the returning chill.  This happens nearly every spring, except last year when we had a lovely luscious crop. And the tulip leaves are looking sad, but I hope they’ll revive.  The best cure for a cold snap is a soothing wash of warm spring rain.

For some reason, the birds have nibbled the blooms on the pussy willow to bits. And I feed the birds.  The feeder hangs from the remains of the old cherry tree not far removed from the pussy willow.  My solution is to root pussy willow cuttings and plant them somewhere else.  Apparently the birds like some fresh greens along with their sunflower seeds and soft silvery little ‘pussies’ will serve. Who knew?  But I love catkins so will tuck some in an out-of-the-way corner.  Perhaps down near the pond.  I also love my birds, and kitties (big bird fans).   Sometimes our loves do not meld well.

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  ~Mark Twain

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~Doug Larson

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”  ~Anne Bradstreet

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”  ~Hal Borland

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”  ~Virgil A. Kraft

“Where man sees but withered leaves,

God sees sweet flowers growing.”
~Albert Laighton

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

“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

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

*Pics of the Shenandoah Valley, my garden, and our gosling and kitten taken by my mom and daughter Elise.

Nature is a writer’s best friend ~Agavé Powers


I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.  ~ e.e. cummings

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  ~John Keats

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.  ~Jane Austen

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.
~William Cullen Bryant

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.  ~John Muir

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.  ~Standing Bear

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.  ~George Washington Carver

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.  ~Author Unknown

You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.  ~Hal Borland

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  ~John Muir

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,
I keep it staying at Home –
With a bobolink for a Chorister,
And an Orchard, for a Dome.
~Emily Dickinson

Great things are done when men and mountains meet.  This is not done by jostling in the street.  ~William Blake

Fieldes have eies and woods have eares.  ~John Heywood, 1565

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.  ~Rachel Carson

Climb up on some hill at sunrise.  Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.  ~Robb Sagendorph

Nature is the art of God.  ~Thomas Browne

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
~Emily Bronte

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.
Emily Dickinson
Nature XXVII, Autumn.

Autumn’s the mellow time.
~William Allingham