March 1, 2012 @ 9:12 pm | Filed under: ,

Another gray day, but a nice gray. Grey, if you’ll allow me to go all Vicky Austin on you. You could see the blue glimmering just behind the clouds. We’re expecting gardening weather this weekend. Mostly that will mean roaming the yard staring broodingly at the dirt for signs of seeds that can’t possibly be ready to come up yet. Hasn’t even been a week, for Pete’s sake.

But there’s comfort in that brooding, impatient, soil-prodding stage. I do my best writing while I’m gardening. I never realize I’m doing it until later when it’s time to work and that knotty scene that’s been giving me fits is suddenly there, formed, waiting for me to get out of the way. And then the next scene crowds in and pitches a fit, and gets stubborn and silent, and refuses to speak to me, and I have to go back out and poke at the dirt for a while and dislodge all the seeds that are never going to sprout if I don’t leave them alone.

In other news, I really miss Downton Abbey.

I also miss reading fiction, which I’ve been unable to do these past few weeks: it’s the writing, again. Instead I keep drifting toward long New Yorker pieces about politics or Grey Gardens, or reading Didion essays (for the first time; I somehow never got around to her before) and gardening books and Helene Hanff, or going five, six, seven years back in the archives of a blog and reading the whole thing from start to finish like a novel, even the comments. I have strange reading habits, at a certain stage of writing.

I’m in the mood to reread (for the umpteenth time) Katherine White’s Onward and Upward in the Garden, which made me, at twenty-three, long to be a gardening writer and also to grow peonies. I have yet to do either, but the day is young.

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9 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. tanita says:

    Ooh, Didion essays! My English professor in college was Canadian, so I got to those, and Atwood shorts right away, fortunately. And a lot of other stuff it felt like no one else was reading, like Memento Mori and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. My Freshman year I was awash in literature, and friends taking from other professors asked, “You’re reading what?” Oh, the fun of doing individual curricula!

    These are good broody days – I woke up and figured out what was wrong with my MG novel – just, 7:30, BAM! – there it was.

    Now to do the work of digging out and unraveling and repotting and waiting…

  2. monica says:

    I was just telling my husband how I miss Downton. When does the next season start? I need to make a countdown clock for my blog. I have grown peonies and they are a study in patience. YEARS before they come up. But very rewarding when they do. I do believe gardening is a spiritual act that seems to put to rights the chaos in ones mind and soul. Even while stirring up feeling of resentment towards soil, seeds and bugs.

  3. Penny says:

    Oh, you are indeed a gardening writer. Most definitely.

  4. sarah says:

    It amuses me how the Americans and the British (including her colonies) spell words differently and it makes such a difference. Grey is the correct spelling, of course. When I was a very young child I would get all political about the u in colour. My teachers were inclining the American way but I refused. God created the word as colour, in my youthful opinion, and anything else was sacrilege!

    I miss Downton Abbey too. It’s on a channel we can’t access and I’ve never seen it, so I miss the whole thing.

  5. PrairiePoppins says:

    I’ve read 3 fiction books in the last week. I’m not bragging, just delighting in the shortness of the next three YA books I picked for our teen homeschool book club. I recommend all three:

    “Trash” by Andy Mulligan
    “Climbing the Stairs” by Venkatraman
    “Stupid Fast” by Herbach

    The third one is the funniest, if you need something of a lift. It also won the Cybils.

  6. Karyn @ Kloppenmum says:

    Hi and thanks for mentioning my post!
    I miss Downtown Abbey too – any idea if they’re going to make a third series?

  7. Karyn @ Kloppenmum says:

    …that would be Downton…call *that* nappy-brain…

  8. Melissa Wiley says:

    @Tanita, mmm, Memento Mori! That was another late discovery for me: just last year. I saw your post about waking up with the solution to your book and I was cheering for you. 🙂 You’ll appreciate this—I just tweeted something my Rose (13yo) said this morning. She writes too, you know. “Yesterday, the world was cruel and life was dull because I wasn’t writing. Today, I’m writing, and the world is cruel—and life is colorful.”

    Yup, that’s about it. 🙂

    @Penny, aw, thank you. That is sweet. I don’t let myself run on about my plantlings as much as I’m tempted to…I could happily describe every groping tendril and unfurling leaf.

    @Monica, YES, you have nailed it: peace and contemplation “even while stirring up feeling of resentment towards soil, seeds and bugs.” Ha!

    @Sarah, all through high school I stubbornly spelled it ‘grey,’ and got it marked wrong on essays over and over. “But, Ms. P, this is a *British* literature class! Thomas Hardy’s heath is absolutely grey, not gray!” Ms. P was not impressed by my impassioned pleas. (Is it any wonder I turned out to be a homeschooler?)

    Could you watch Downton online at (Not sure if that works internationally…)

    Prairie: I’ve been looking forward to diving into the Cybils lists after I emerge from the book-writing-cave…

    Karyn: Nice to see you here! I really loved that post of yours. Found it via Laura Grace Weldon, I think. (Look under Caught My Eye in the right sidebar, everyone, for the link to Kloppenmum. Wonderful.)

    And YES, they’re at work on Downton Season 3. Shirley MacClaine is joining the cast…as the American grandmother, I’m guessing. THAT should be fun. 🙂

  9. maria says:

    Me too! On missing Downton Abbey.

    Your flowers are lovely! 🙂