Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hettie Visits the Lake District

20 October, 1911
Dearest Caroline,

Oh, I have ever so much to tell you about the Lake District! It is so green and so beautiful, I could stay here forever.

I sketched William Wordsworth's home for you. We drove past the spot where he wrote "Daffodils," and I wished we could have come in the spring, for our guide told us they still bloom there (the daffodils).

John Ruskin's home was amazing, too, and we even had a peek inside. There are many ruins and old villages with cobbled streets, and of course the lakes are simply Heaven on Earth. The colours are just starting to change to reds, oranges, and yellows. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I wish I could bottle the scent and sent it to you. This leaf will have to do.

I hope that you have had a wonderful week. Send everyone my love.

Your cousin,


Monday, October 8, 2012

Hettie's Autumn Letter

8 October, 1911

Dearest Caroline,

We are still in the Lake District, enjoying it very much. London was cold and foggy, but we braved the weather and watched the changing of the guards on Tuesday; it was quite a sight!

Uncle Jasper has developed the photographs from our sea voyage, and I am including one of Cousin Paul and me (this was right after I lost my camera in the brink). There are so many photos of everyone but Uncle Jasper, that we'll have to tie him down to get some of him, as well.

I hope that you are enjoying beautiful autumn in the mountains there. I imagine that most of your colours are gone by now? We are enjoying lovely weather today, sunny and balmy.



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hettie Arrives in England

25 September, 1911

Dear Caroline,

We made it safe and sound yesterday, even though we had a big storm all night the first night.

Here's a picture of the hotel where we are staying; it's so elegant inside, with big crystal chandeliers and velvet carpets.

We're going to London today, and then touring the Lake District. Do you think we'll see Mr. and Mrs. Darcey, or Peter Rabbit there? I've been filling a sketchbook with little drawings, since my camera was lost at sea.

Till next time,

Your loving cousin,


Friday, September 14, 2012

Cousin Hettie Takes a Grand Tour

Cousin Hettie is a character I made up to help a friend pass away the miserable months of morning sickness. I sent her a series of letters "written" by Cousin Hettie, who was just embarking on a real, live Grand Tour of Europe, along with little mementos of sites seen along the way.

This is letter #1, which was written on this postcard of the Statue of Liberty~

New York City
14 Sep, 1911
 Dearest Caroline,

Well, here I am, cousin, embarking on a real-live Grand Tour! I never dreamed it would be possible, and I daresay I would not have been brave enough to go if not for going with Paul, Aunt Elspeth, and Uncle Jasper. They are the dearest people in the world! How shall I ever make it up to them?

New York City is ever so crowded and noisy, and not to mention dirty! We toured the Statue of Liberty yesterday, which was a grand adventure of its own!

Tomorrow we shall board the steamer Wimbleton, and they say it will take five days to reach Liverpool, weather permitting.

Oh, I do wish you could come, too, dear cousin of mine! But of course, in your condition, a voyage on the sea would most likely feel like a trip to Hades, instead!

Do give my love to those little darlings of yours, and to that great big Man. Someday I hope to take the Grand Tour of Marriage, myself.

Your loving cousin,


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rodale, My Father, and Me

I was blessed to grow up in Small Town America. We lived on almost an acre of land, smack dab in the middle of town. Rumblimg trains passed by, day and night, only two houses away.

The hardware store/lumber yard was right across the street (One of the employees had a contagious, super-loud laugh that would make us pause in our tracks and snicker), and the little grocery, department, and drug store were across the railroad tracks and Main St., and little children felt secure in patronizing them unaccompanied by an adult.

My grandparents lived right next door to us. Grandpa always had a bounteous vegetable garden and beautiful sweet peas, thanks in part to the two inches of cow manure that he tilled under each spring. A garden was absolutely essential while raising their children during the Great Depression, and was a always a source of pride in later years.

When fate brought my family to settle next to my grandparents, Daddy took up fruit-tree planting to rival that of Johnny Appleseed. There were two apricots, two plums (one green gage and one Italian prune), eight apple tree, one gooseberry bush, one pie cherry tree, one peach tree, and several Nanking cherry and raspberry bushes. Concord grapes grew next to the front porch, and were wonderful made into tangy juice and jelly.

My mother was appreciate of Daddy's efforts in fruit production, but when it came to vegetable gardening, that was quite a different story! Rodale's "Organic Gardening and farming" was a great influence on my father, who took the organic philosophy and methods to heart (Daddy even had a couple of his own articles accepted by Rodale in 1974, which made him a proud man.).

Whereas my grandpa used chemical sprays and had everything in nice, straight rows, Dad's crops were interplanted to make better use of space and to discourage pests. Dad planted strange things like poke and "gobo," and Mom was ever so embarrassed when the newspaper took a picture of the garden with a full-grown burdock in it! Weeds were tolerated, and even eaten, and of course my mother, raised on those perfectly groomed, straight rows of veggies, thought he was nuts. She was NOT a fan of Mr. Rodale and his off-the-wall ideas!

After my parents divorced and Daddy left forever, his interplanted garden became a memory, as Grandpa helped re-establish "normalcy", but the seeds that Rodale planted have grown fertile in me, who loves to garden organically, weeds and all. I even have a collection of vintage "Organic Gardening and Farming" books and magazines, and am still looking for the issues from 1974 that have my father's articles in them.

Although my father's body no longer inhabits this earth, his spirit will never die. As I watch my children exploring the world of growing things, and we forage wild edibles together, I'm sure that Daddy is smiling down on us all.

Thanks J. I. and Robert Rodale, for your legacy of love!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wolverine Canyon

Near to her home were a few wild wooded places, where she loved to take her little family. There she was healed by Mother Earth. One of these places was Wolverine Canyon, whose yawning cliffs seemed another world apart from the flat sagebrush steppes and farmland all around.

Here the pulse of the earth was strong, though it bore the scars of civilization. Willow thickets followed the creek, then chokecherry, red osier dogwood, alders, and elder lined the unpaved road which wound higher and higher through the canyon walls. Douglas fir clung to the mountain sides like the spires of a temple, and bare rock formations witnessed the power of the Creator, who spake and the world was.

Magic and mystery were in watching the sun set early over the rim of the highest peak, and then seeing it ascend along the eastern ridge the next morning, long after sunrise.

Cool canyon breezes mingled with the hot summer air, bringing the very breath of life. Oh, how she longed to climb to the very top and share the vantage point of the birds of prey who soared high above the canyon floor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Treasures of Green"

When she was small, she ate pureed comfrey and apricots as baby food. She rolled up comfrey leaves and ate them as a snack. "Belly Buttons" from mallow tasted like peas, and the scent of tansy reminded her of happy times playing in the chicken yard. And of course, the smell of sagebrush mixed with rain was like Heaven itself.

Little wonder then, that although she left behind her country roots after growing up (except for hiking with the dogs are much as possible), the plants began calling her back. Back to who she was. Back to wholeness.

Little feelings of curiosity and wonder became great passions of joy, as her eyes were opened to not only the power of physical healing the plants possessed, but the powerful spiritual healing created by just being in their  presence.

She felt that she had come home to her own house of belonging, and knew that she must share that passion with others. It was her calling and her destiny. She was created to be a member of the race of healers, who had been since the world's beginning.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

~The Call of the Woods~

She could not recall a time when she did not love to be in the  woods: there was always a sense of peace and solace there.

Yet with each passing year, as the moon draws the ocean, the woods beckoned her more strongly to make her home in the sheltering shade.

"Come see," whispered the poplars in the wind. "Hurry, hurry," said the evergreens. Sometimes she felt as though her spirit would leak through her skin, so great was the longing to be where she knew she belonged.

But she would be patient, knowing all that was meant for her would come in it's own due time.

In the meantime, she could go there as often as time and transportation permitted, drinking in the healing peace of the air, fragrant with the scent of living things.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Further Down, Higher Up, Deeper Within"

It was always there, in the corner of her consciousness. Sometimes it came in flashes of light, but mostly it came softly, when she was rocking a baby, washing the dishes, or weeding the garden.

"Further down, higher up, deeper within," whispered her heart. "Keep reaching, keep going within; it is there that you will find it. You WILL find that greatness within you, that you must have to accomplish all the Lord has planned for you. Go deeper, further, higher than you are." Sometimes she felt as if she were almost there, while other times she felt afraid and alone, and doubted that voice within that urged her on.

But her heart did not give up, though she might try to dissuade it. Her heart knew she was bound for greatness. She, who always felt small and insignificant, was, without knowing it, fulfilling the measure of her creation.With each trial, each new idea, each time she woke up and prayed for grace to be given her, she was going further down, higher up, and deeper within.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


"She was a mother, a housewife, an old-fashioned girl." These things defined her. Home and family were everything to her, and she was most happy there, where she could be herself; without feeling she must excuse herself for being who she was.

There were, of course, times when she felt overwhelmed with the work; when her exhaustion became more intense with each baby; when it seemed that the Lord had given her something impossible to achieve.

But always in her heart was a desire to please her Heavenly Father, in all that she did, and that desire helped her endure all the trials and tribulations that life brought to her.

She was a free spirit , and she chose to believe; to believe that "love finds a way", and that "all things are possible to him that believeth."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012



Flickering flames of phosphorescence,

Little lanterns lighting the way.

For they know the way to Fairyland,

The fireflies that fly.

And they show the way to that merry land,

You can find it if you try.

They blink and they wink, and they go drifting by

On their way to Fairyland.

Follow, oh follow with feet that are spry

To that oh, so airy land,

To that sometimes “bewarey” land,

Fairyland is nigh!

~M. J. Graham

{Photo Credit: Getty Images}