Tag Archives: Nature

“If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

My June catchup. Sorry I’ve been so absent on the blog.

“It is at the edge of a petal that love waits.” ~William Carlos Williams

For a hushed moment after sunrise the sun touched the garden and everything was new and perfect. Then the sun rose higher and I saw the Japanese beetles. They love the same plants I do, like roses. Despite  my annual battle with these noxious pests, my garden is a little bit of Eden. I tripled my efforts outdoors this year after my dear father’s passing. The Memorial Garden reminds me of a painting as it unfolds. Gardening is a living form of art.

Neglected corners remain in the yard, but gardening is an ongoing journey. I’m eyeing the long border along the road with ideas for improvements I might make late summer or fall. Efforts there must be undertaken with caution because of the road monster.

(Breadseed Poppy–seed originally from Monticello)

Did any of you see Finding Neverland years ago, starring a young Johnny Depp as Author J. M. Barrie? Excellent film, made before Depp went off the rails. Near the end of the movie, Kate Winslet, who portrays the mother of the boy who inspired Barrie to write Peter Pan, enters  the wondrous Neverland set Barrie has created. (Peter Pan began as a play in 1904.) At times, when I go into the garden, surrounded by magical beauty, it reminds me a bit of that scene.

There’s nothing quite like a near perfect day in the garden. I say ‘near’ because perfection is elusive and my idea of a magical garden excursion may not be yours. But when the cerulean sky reaches to heaven, flowers sparkle like jewels, and leafy green enfolds me, I am uplifted. In that moment, I am happy.

All winter and spring I dreamed of delphinium spires. This is ‘Million Dollar Blue,’ an improved kind from Wayside Gardens, more heat and cold tolerant.

On blue sky days, the ridges rise clearly beyond the wooded hills. Country noises fill air pungent with farm smells sweetened by herbs and flowers. Meadow larks trill from tall grass, bees hum, and butterflies flit. I chase them with my camera.

When a new birds calls, we must know what kind it is–recently an oriole. Red Winged black birds have a distinct cry. They mostly stay at the pond but sometimes visit our back garden. Goose squawks resound except during afternoon siestas beneath the pear trees. Never mind, I spoke too soon. Our two buddy brother roosters peck around and crow, a lot. A typical country sound.

We still hear cows. Young ones will remain until old enough to go, but we had to sell our dairy herd–sad sigh. We’re remaining on the farm, thank the good Lord. Son Cory will raise beef cows while Hubby Dennis runs his farm machinery business. As for me, I will garden, cherish my friends and family, and write again. Not much to report on that front, but I’m beginning to miss writing, an inherent part of who I am. Or was. I know Dad wouldn’t want me to give it up. His death, on top of my brother Chad’s, threw me more than I can say, but I’m slowly mending, largely with the help of garden therapy. I’ve come to realize missing them will ever be woven into the fabric of my life.

This country scene may not strike some as idyllic, but it’s heaven on earth to me.

Hollyhocks set off our barn in this pic. I used to call it ‘the old red barn’ until Cory redid it in white. A decorative barn quilt adds color to the front.

(Bathsheba climbing rose from David Austin)

“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

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

(Red Admiral Butterfly on mini buddleia from Jackson and Perkins)

The fuzzy bumble bee (pictured below on larkspur) reminds me of a tiny teddy bear. The heirloom larkspur has been here longer than I have. The flowers come in blue,white, pink, and purple. A hardy annual, it reseeds for the next spring.

All images were taken this month by me.

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

“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

Gardening and Country Life in Glorious Color!

cover-for-swcI’ve labored away adding lovely images to Shenandoah Watercolors, my nonfiction book about life on our small family farm in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Given my love of gardening, this includes a strong focus on my gardens and love of nature. The book is already out in print with images, but now that kindle and nook E-Readers support colored photographs, I’ve added heaps more. Shenandoah Watercolors in available in  eBook and print format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I will also get it up on Kobo soon. If someone is dying for me to have it somewhere else, let me know.

Book description: Author/farm wife Beth Trissel shares the joys and challenges of rural life on her family’s small farm in the scenic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Journey with her through the seasons on the farm, owned by the family since the 1930’s, and savor the richness of her cherished gardens and beloved valley. This journal, with images of her farm and valley, is a poignant, often humorous, sometimes sad glimpse into country life. Recommended for anyone who loves the country, and even those who don’t. ***Shenandoah Watercolors is a 2012 EPPIC eBOOK FINALIST.

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in springExcerpt:
  The heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water pour down from the hills and make new ponds and creeks. It’s chilly with that raw wet feel. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I’m struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it’s so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there’s no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven. Our barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there’s a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.I’ve been thinking about my favorite places.

Dark hollow falls on Skyline drive, Shenandoah national parkThe pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal. I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.~

***Images of the Shenandoah Valley in early spring and Dark Hollow Falls in the Blue Ridge.

We Found Eeyore’s Tree

While on a photography excursion along the back roads of our lovely Shenandoah Valley we passed an idyllic stream and swimming hole, secluded well away from pubic view. A secret place. After daughter Elise took this splendid shot, she remarked on how the tree reminded her of the one in an original illustration of Eeyore. And she’s right. Who knew? The Hundred Acre Woods is right here. All we need to complete this scene is Eeyore.

Eeyore's stream and tree.jpg1

Here’s the Original Tree by Ernest Shepard, British artist/illustrator 1879-1976.

Eeyore's Tree and stream by Ernest Shepard (British artist, 1879-1976)

“I cultivate my garden, and my garden cultivates me.”~Robert Brault (Beth Trissel)

barn with tulips April 2011 241“I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border.  I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.”  ~Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988

To that quote I add, and Nature generally wins. But it’s April and the world is newborn. I’m in my zealous mode, clearing away the old growth and wintering over weeds from around perennial herbs, flowers, and vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb, and seeking out the newly emerging seedlings to determine whether they’re friend or foe. Or something in between. If foe, then they must be gotten out before they smother the surrounding plants. But it isn’t that simple. Many of the plants are wanted, within reason.

rose and larkspurTake larkspur for example, a beautiful flower, but will take over unless kept at bay and that’s the way with many of my cottage garden favorites. Sunflowers are wonderful, but if not curtailed will overrun the garden. A knowing eye and hand must make order out of would be chaos–an ongoing challenge. One mostly undertaken by me, with some much needed help from daughter Elise. This year I’m also starting many seedlings in the small greenhouse husband Dennis built me years ago. It had fallen apart but he recently restored it; I’m very glad to have the use of this happy space again.  So far the gardens look hopeful and are bursting with promise. I pray the weather will be reasonable this year.  And we dodge the frost tonight.

violasDespite all the challenges, creating a garden is inestimably worthwhile and blesses everyone it touches.  Go and plant something. And if you must wait until the snow melts, you have my sympathies. Spring is late but has arrived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~Author Unknown

Spring Garden“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.”  ~Thomas FullerGnomologia, 1732

“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.  My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.  The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.”  ~Abram L. Urban

“I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.”  ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”  ~W.E. JohnsThe Passing Show

*Images of my garden(s) by my mom and daughter Elise


I Dreamed a Dream of Spring but They’re calling for Snow Again–Beth Trissel

 Images from past springs in the valley that shall return.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret AtwoodBluebeard’s Egg

 *The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  

Photographs by my mom, Pat Churchman

“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 dear 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

“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 BurnettThe Secret Garden

*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

Stone wall with daffodils at my mom’s house

My New Historical Romance and the Very Unique Kira–Beth Trissel

The Rugged Alleghenies, A White Warrior, Beautiful Scots-Irish Healer, Unrequited Love—Requited, Charges of Witchcraft, Vindictive Ghost, Lost Treasure, Murderous Thieves, Deadly Pursuit, Hangman’s Noose Waiting…Kira, Daughter of the Moon

1765––The recent Indian wars are over (for now) and an uneasy truce in place. Free-spirited Kira is at odds with the superstitious Scots-Irish in the settlement and rumor spreads that she may be a witch. Her imagination runs to fairy rings, the little people, and haints (something that’s there but ain’t). She’s happiest out among the trees where she can hide from her painful past and any warriors who might again appear.

A gifted healer with a menagerie of wild creatures, she’s in the forest releasing a tame crow when her little beagle sounds the alarm. She peers warily from the leaves at the handsome young stranger. His buckskin breechclout and moccasins are more in keeping with a warrior’s than any frontiersmen she knows and there’s a stealth in his manner that reminds her of the way Indians pass through the trees. Yet he’s not a warrior. Unless, he’s a renegade. This is the set up for the story, but there’s a great deal more behind it, and especially, Kira, the most unique heroine I’ve ever written.

Not only does Kira have a tame crow she’s nursed back to health, but a number of wild animals under her care in what she calls her nursery, a protected nook in the woods close to the homestead where she lives with the Houston family who took her in after her parent’s death (relatives of the hero, Logan McCutcheon). Some of Kira’s babies ride in pockets she’s sewn inside her cloak for that purpose. Her guardian, particularly his wife, aren’t happy about hosting her creatures and banish the talkative crow, the reason she’s in the woods releasing him when she spots the potential threat.

Besides my love of animals, two books influenced this aspect of Kira’s character, one was a children’s book my youngest daughter brought home from the school library in fifth grade. I wish I could recall the title and maybe a helpful reader will because I’d love to locate a copy. I only remember it’s a true story about a family who took in injured and orphaned animals and I was much impressed by their talking crows. The second book, The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow, The Mystical Nature Diary of Opal Whiteley, is a remarkable journal first written in crayon by an amazing girl, and later laboriously pierced back together after her sister shredded the pages. Sadly, Opal suffered from schizophrenia in an era when little was known about treatment, but her relationship with nature is the most outstanding I’ve ever come across.

When I first wrote Kira, Daughter of the Moon, I simply entitled the novel Kira, because she’s very much her own person. But she evolves into a much stronger young woman as a result of Logan’s return to her life, and that aspect of Kira is influenced by the Native Americans he counts as friends who give her the name, Daughter of the Moon.

***Kira, Daughter of the Moon is available in print and various ebook formats from The Wild Rose Press,  Amazon, Barnes & Noble in NookbookAll Romance eBooks, and other online booksellers.

Although written to stand alone, ‘Kira’ is the sequel to my award-winning historical romance novel Through the Fire. 

A Spring Walk in the Country

Earlier this week, on a spectacular blue sky day, my daughter Elise and I went for a walk on our farm in the Shenandoah Valley.  We passed beneath the flowering cherry,  crab apples and the edible apples all in full bloom, then continued on down to the meadow where we circled the pond, followed by curious cows and one of our farm dogs, Lance.
Our other farm dog, Luca, (both lab mixes) won’t go into the meadow after she accidentally touched the electric fence that keeps the cows out of the water (an EPA requirement).
So, sadly, Luca can’t go for a swim without the risk of being zapped by the fence and stays clear of the field now. Lance sticks to the wide swath of grass and the small stream that meanders through the meadow further below the pond.
While near the water, Elise and I looked to see if the trees planted along its banks last year all survived, they did, and we looked for nests in the larger trees that have been there for years  We also spotted a goose on her nest.  A protective gander kept watch nearby and we gave them a wide berth. Geese get very fussy about anyone trespassing too near their nests. Especially Canadians, which this pair are.  We also have domestic barnyard geese nesting in various hotly contested sites on our farm. (Nesting goose by the pond and Lance getting really muddy.)
“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”  ~Proverb
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
***Only not near any thistles, I hasten to add, having stepped on plenty in my day.
“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.”
~Robert Frost
After crossing the grassy field, we navigated the barbed wire fence and walked on up the hill to the woods beyond it.  Elise took her camera and recorded our outing. She got some wonderful shots with her new lens.
On our way, we passed an ancient barn, rather derelict now, and the overgrown spot where the farmhouse once stood.  It burned down decades ago.  The old man didn’t die in the fire, but later.
A quaint outbuilding remains, but the scent of skunks kept us at bay. I assume they’ve taken up residence there. That site is always a little creepy, and I wonder what paranormal investigators might find with their high-tech gadgets, but not on such a glorious afternoon.
“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”
It’s quite a hike getting up the hill and then following the line of trees across it. Along the way we paused by a stand of oaks I call my ‘sacred place’ and said a prayer for loved ones and in memory of those who have gone before us.
After a pensive pause, we explored further among the copse of trees and found a burrow that may belong to a fox. The farmers who live on one side of that hill have spotted a number of them.
“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.”
Startled deer sprang past us, white tails up, and bounded away while birds sang from high overhead.  We continually craned our necks to try and catch a glimpse of the songsters but most were out of sight.  A tantalizing glimpse, now and then and I recognized several calls. Others I wasn’t certain of.
Meadowlarks trilled in the distance, my favorite spring bird, and extremely elusive. I rarely ever catch sight of a meadowlark and am thrilled when I do.
Coyotes also live somewhere in those woods, but don’t generally come out until after dark.  Not where I’d want to be then.  Our dog Lance had given up the walk and turned back so if we were attacked I’d have to rely on my trusty walking stick. Coyotes have come to our farm and far too near the house for comfort, at times, but the dogs keep them at bay.  Go out of their mind barking.  Not a hint of anything sinister on this fine day, though, just beauty. Then we did the entire walk  in reverse and returned by a different route. Elise took pics all along the way.  I was whacked by the time we got home.  It was definitely tea time.
*All images are by Elise except for the meadowlark.  We have yet to capture one of those birds on camera, but it isn’t from lack of trying to track them down.
Shenandoah Watercolors, my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, is available at Amazon in kindle and now print with photographs by my talented family.
“For those who love the country and even those who don’t.” A 2012 EPIC eBook Finalist
“The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.”

“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.

Spectacular Autumn Day

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame
through the mountains,
a torch flung to the trees.

“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

Fall pic 2009
“In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Autumn Fires.


“Everyone must take time to sit and watch
the leaves turn.”
Elizabeth Lawrence


“October is a symphony of permanence and change.”
Bonaro W. Overstreet

This One

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

Elise and her pumpkin
“October is a symphony of permanence
and change.” ~Bonaro W. Overstreet

“falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly” ~
John Bailey
Autumn, A Haiku Year.

Fall Bridge

Pics by my mom, Pat Churchman, daughter Elise,
(with her heirloom pumpkin, Cinderella), and my husband.