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Festival of the Hills – A Crop of Authors

The Authors Tent

The Conway Festival of the Hills is a grand autumnal event in our region. This year I got to share tent space with other authors like Marie Betts Bartlett (left in blue) who brought her book The (true) Story of The Little Yellow Trolley Car and Heidi Stemple (right oogling the baby. Heidi is the daughter of and co-author with Jane Yolen of many books, true, mysterious and delicious.  In the center is Jessica, owner of The World Eye Bookstore who was running the cash register.

David Costello, author and illustrator

David Costello was at the table too, with his new book Little Pig, and his ink and brush. Because of the constant rain we did have a few quieter moments which gave David time to make special drawings, in consultation with some younger readers. This area is so rich in fine authors and illustrators that a whole new roster took the afternoon signing session: Holly Hobbie, John Crowley, Peter Jeswald, and editor of Morning Song, Susan Todd.

Holly Hobbie is well known for her Toot and Puddle series of books, but I love her new books about Fanny. John and Peter write for adults. Crowley takes us to worlds fantastic and real in his novels, while Jeswald is a good man to have a round the house and garden with non-fiction books from Taunton Press and Storey Publishing.

Susan Todd, along with Carol Purington, edited the poetry anthology Morning Song: Poems for New Parents that I wrote about here.

The Little Yellow Trolley Car

I’ve even given a copy of this to my great-granddaughter Bella so she’ll know a little piece of our local history. The book is a delight.

I Can Help

I bought this for my younger great granddaughter, Lola, because even at two she must be learning that there are ways she can help.

Barefoot Book of Dance Stories

I got this signed for Bella but I might wait a year or two before giving it to her. She is always twirling and dancing, but the stories of other cultures and their dances might be even more entrancing for a slightly older girl.

Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep

This is a charming bedtime book with whimsical illustrations of all kinds of animals that hibernate in winter.

I was thrilled that so many people came to have books signed for their children, making sure we knew that they were already reading to them, every day, even if they were only three months old. That is the perfect time to begin, and contemplate years of happy Reading Aloud.

Crops of writers help us grow crops of readers. Very important.

Many Muses This Muse Day

Under new leaves

my daughter’s daughter – newborn

crying in my arms

That she may walk the Woman’s Trail unafraid

I name her Rising Moon.

by Carol Purington    #41 in The Trees Bleed Sweetness: A Tanka Narrative

This poem by my friend Carol Purington is from her book of tanka written in the voice of a Native American woman who might have lived in these hills where her family has farmed for more than 200 years.  I chose it because it is spring, a time of new beginnings and the poem has a grandmother making a prayer of what she wishes for her new granddaughter.

MorningSong: Poems for New Parents

This poem is an especially appropriate choice this weekend because Carol, along with her good friend Susan Todd (who served as teacher to Carol’s nephews years ago) held a publication party at the Purington farm to celebrate a book of poetry that they edited for new parents. Morning Song includes poems across time and cultures, some of which are old favorites like Christopher Robin Is Saying His Prayers by A.A. Milne and some of which will be new to many readers. Authors included are as famous as Richard Wilbur and as skilled and talented as our local Amy Dryansky and Susie Patlove.

The intent of the book is to take parents through the whole sequence of a child’s life from conception on  in a way that will give them hope and encouragement to persevere through all the doubts that parents inevitably suffer.

I have used several of Carol’s poems for Muse Day and I have written about her here. Celebrating a different kind of Muse Day with her, her family, and others who were instrumental in the making of this book was a great joy and honor. I mentioned to Carol that because our friendship is so new I had nothing to do with the creation of this wonderful book, but she sighed and said, “But you walked through the publication process with us.”  That is true and it has certainly been an instructive walk through the publishing world.

Carol will have signed the copies of the book that Susan will bring and be signing at The World Eye Bookshop on Wednesday, May 4 from 4 t0 6 pm. Don’t you know a new parent who will need and enjoy this book?

To see what other Muses are abroad visit carolyngail at sweethomeandgardenchicago.


Purington Roses

Purington Pink rose

Last year, about this time, I asked our wonderful Heath librarian Don Purington if the offer of a pink rose from his family farm still stood. Lucky for me it did. He not only introduced me to his mother Barbara, but my visit to Woodslawn Farm, also led to my meeting his sister Carol and a new friendship. Carol is a poet, a reader, and a great conversationalist.  She was struck by polio on her first day of school when she was six years old, and has spent the past 54 years in an iron lung.  Her survival is a testament to her medical care,  her own strength and stamina, the love of her large family, and the wisdom she has developed over the years. Carol and I have had jolly visits together, thoughtful and gay by turns – including a joyful celebration of her 60th birthday.

Though Carol’s friendship was the unexpected gift, Barbara gave me more than one rose.  Purington’s pink, pictured above is the rose that grows outside her kitchen window. It is about five feet tall and a substantial bush. Mine is till small, but it came through the winter and is fragrantly blooming on the new Rose Bank.

Purington Rambler

Also on the Rose Bank is the Purington Rambler which grows in a tangle on the stone wall outside Carol’s room. There it can tumble over the edge of the wall. On the Rose Bank it will sprawl and become a moundy tangle. It has taken hold magnificently.

I planted two other Purington roses on the Rose Walk.  Barbara said the yellow rose usually didn’t survive  transplanting, but I got really lucky and it has come through the winter.  It is too small to bloom and I am still trying to coddle it, but I have great hopes for next year.  The other rose is also pink, but not yet flowering.  Keep watching.

While I have used Carol’s poetry on Muse Day before, I cannot again mention Carol’s poetry, collected in several books including A Pattern in this Place: Words of a Pioneer Woman with illustrations by her sister-in-law Stephanie B. Purington, without giving at least a tiny sample. Carol specializes in haiku.

“I set my bucket

Beside  the spring,

Kneel to watch its surface flicker

With leaf-cut sunlight –

The peace of God enfolds me.

Muse Day February 2010

The pair of quilts

we pieced together, laughing

at the future’s far design

my handiwork now covers a husband, babies –

hers, a corpse.

Carol Purington

Thank you Carolyn gail for giving me the chance to be twice inspired on this Muse Day. My friend Carol Purington wrote the poem, published in her book A Pattern For This Place, and my friend Lois Holm made this quilt for me when I retired from the Buckland Library.

I knew of Carol, before I met her, as the “poet who has been in an iron lung since childhood” but over the past few months I have come to know her as a working poet with a quick intelligence, a critical eye, and a loving heart. She has been generous to me with her attention and advice as we have worked together on my new writing project. And I have been able to watch the progress on her new project, a poetry anthology for parents.

Lois was my devoted library volunteer, trustee and dependable prop when I worked at the Library. She came to the library as a volunteer after a full professional life as nurse, working in the schools, and deep involvement in her community. I was incredibly lucky about the timing of that retirement which brought her to the library not only as a reader and patron, but as my major support and exemplar.

In this quilt she drew not only nf my love of gardens, but of my time in China. It is a work of art with the careful combining of color and pattern, flowers and ripples. Chinese art often includes an element of time, as do haiku, Carol’s chosen poetic form. The band of fabric with golden ‘ripples’ suggest to me the time that is always flowing past us. The quilt itself, and the poem reach back into memory, and into the present with continuing affection.

Brilliant, and yet again brilliant


                   Foliage-viewing –

               Annual failure to slake

          Winter’s color thirst.          


In her haiku Carol Purington captures a season and the necessity of trying to prepare for the monochromatic winter landscape.  She captures the colors, creatures and songs of every season at Woodslawn Farm here in western Massachusetts.  This haiku is from her book Woodslawn Farm.

To see what other muses are abroad and inspiring us, visit Carolyn gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago, the host of Muse Day, and Blotanical nominee.  Don’t forget to vote.

Monday Muse

Guan Yin Mian

Guan Yin Mian

Midsummer Morning

   One big white peony enough

      for a bouquet.

               by Carol Purington

My tree peony blossom is pink, but it is big enough for a bouquet.  Carol’s haiku are so evocative that I must include another on this Muse Day Monday.

End of the row

   The child’s strawberry basket

        still empty.

This haiku seems to me a perfect depiction of a child’s innocent greediness and the sweetness of summer. Thank you Carolyn Gail for hosting Muse Day.


This is not only Muse Day, it is time for my Monday Report. A sad tale. My squash and cucumber plants were killed by last night’s cold temperatures. It didn’t get down to 32 degrees but the cold and wind were too much for the seedlings. Now I’ll be planting seeds, and by hurrying the planting, I have the lost the time I thought I  would gain.  Never hurry. How many times do I have to learn this?



Happily there is good new news in other people’s gardens. Jerry Sternstein’s 300+ rhododendrons are just coming into bloom. He had just visited the Heritage Museum and Garden, home of the Dexter rhododendron collection out on Cape Cod, but his own collection, which includes many Dexters is stupendous. Scintillation is one of Dexter’s most famous hybrids, and as you can see from Jerry’s specimen it is worthy of its popularity.

Purple Princess

Purple Princess

Dexter’s hybrids are known for the size of the individual blossoms that make up each flower truss.



Jerry collection has flowers of every color from deep reds to pale shades like this yellow Capistrano.

Jerry also has a large collection of deciduous azaleas, sometimes growing with the rhodies. Local nurseries have only a small variety of the rhododendrons that are available. Jerry has bought his from a number of mail order nurseries including Rare Find Nursery, and Greer Gardens.

Other friends in Charlemont, Ray and Esther Purinton, have been encouraging a lupine field along their long drive.

Lupines bloom in shades of pink, blue and purple. Right now, most of the Purinton’s flowers are blue.

There is a lupine field in Hawley that enjoys a local fame. Another friend said when he is out picking raspberries in July, before a thunderstorm, he can hear the lupine seeds exploding nearby. That explains how lupine fields grow and continue. Self seeding just before a rain.

Don’t forget you still have time to sign up for the Sundial drawing. Just leave a comment here or on the previous posting before Friday at midnight.  The drawing will be Saturday morning and I’ll notify the lucky winner and Teak, Wicker and More.  Good luck all.

Muse Day May 2009

Bounded by strand
above strand of song
— the robin’s acre

This haiku by a local poet, Carol Purington, who lives one town over in Colrain, is from her book Family Farm: Haiku for a Place of Moons.

Carol was struck by polio in her childhood and has lived in an iron lung for most of her life, but she has found a way to connect the limitations of her life with the boundless energies of her family and the ever renewing growth and husbandry of the farm. She has captured the seasons and the love of a piece of land that sharpens the way I look at my own landscape.

If we hadn’t named our ‘farm’ End of the Road Farm, it would have been Robin Hill. Lots of robins mark the beginning of spring.

Thank you Carolyn Gail over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago for hosting Muse Day