Garden ‘Surprise’ Party!

Hi Friends!

It feels just like a garden ‘party’ here in the Midwest ~ a bit of a ‘surprise’ party! These party plans seem to have been underway since February, when we had a stretch of unseasonably warm days. Shortly thereafter, gardeners began to notice foliage emerging from our sleepy, leaf-covered garden beds. I remember taking walks through my garden in late February and early March whispering, “Slow down. It’s much too early.”

Our garden party guests might be feeling confused, as well. Migratory birds and other wildlife have been caught by surprise. This week, I noticed a robin finishing her nest under the eaves, with a southern exposure. The University of Illinois Extension reports that plant growth is 15-20 days ahead of schedule in our area. By tracking growing degree days (GDD), researchers confirm that we are well ahead of normal. Insect populations are making an early appearance. Dandelions have already been in bloom for two weeks. Our usual gardenkeeping tasks seem completely off-schedule this Spring.

My Garden Joys 2017  journal has been capturing the memories of our early garden ‘surprise’ party!

Throughout April, I’ve been extra busy making changes to our front yard as I continue to ‘right-size’ our perennial gardens. A few weeks ago, I decided to eliminate an old stone planter that was a part of this garden long before I moved here. Over the past thirty years, I have enjoyed creating many different plant combinations in the old stone planter. Now it was time to carefully move many of the perennials to other garden beds and compost the rest. (It’s never easy to say goodbye, so I had to keep repeating the mantra ~ “These are not children or pets.’ ) In my heart, I knew that I was doing the right thing… and I always listen to my heart!

Fortunately, I saved many of the loose bricks to use in the backyard. I think they should have a place of honor in our ‘History Garden,’ near our 1922 garage. Using all of my strength, I just couldn’t budge the remaining bricks. So, we called our favorite Handyman, who came with his sledge hammer. What a job! He discovered three layers of stone and slate in the foundation beneath the soil. A very talented Mason had done an excellent job of building the stone planter so long ago!

Next, we hired three strong landscapers to carry the stones to their heavy duty truck and haul them to a business for recycling. We planted grass seed in its place. Now there will be a bit more to mow, but a lot less to weed. 🙂 It felt so great to cross this garden project off my l-o-n-g ‘To Do’ list early in the season!

Some of my most treasured memories are the years that our stone planter was filled with old-fashioned Hollyhocks, in the loveliest colors. They often grew taller than me! I’ll always remember collecting the Hollyhock seeds to make little packets of ‘Seeds of Friendship’ as small tokens of gratitude for our wedding shower. It was such a small way to share the abundance of my garden with special friends.  One summer, the hungry neighborhood groundhogs kept munching on the tops of each Hollyhock stem. That year, we had ‘miniature’ Hollyhocks, only 12 inches tall, in full bloom! Passersby would often stop to comment on our tiny Hollyhocks and I would always share our groundhog tales with them. Ahhh… the garden memories that filled our stone planter over the years!

This week, it was so surprising to see what was blooming in my garden each day! ⇧ We truly are weeks ahead of our typical bloom times. So, I’m scurrying to keep up with our garden ‘surprise’ party this Spring!  The Herb & Tea Garden beds no longer have their warm blanket of leaves. Along the insides of the white picket fence, my favorite, old-fashioned perennials are thriving in this Spring garden party.  The Bleeding Hearts, Cranesbill Geranium, and Anemones are in full bloom and the Coral Bells and Peonies already have buds.

I spent a recent afternoon tidying up the potting bench in the garage.  The garden tools and flower pots are ready and waiting. After I washed the window curtains above the potting bench, I made a simple bunting with flower seed packets. Doesn’t bunting make every surprise party more festive?  🙂

The past two weekends we enjoyed surprising summer-like temperatures just right for some nice, long walks. Last Saturday, we took a late afternoon walk through lovely Lilacia Park. This treasure has over 700 Lilacs and 25,000 Tulips ~ all blooming several weeks early. Instead of a quiet walk amongst the fragrant blossoms, we were surprised to find several wedding parties and crowds of Senior prom dates and their families enjoying the colorful garden party. So festive!

This weekend, however, we are staying cozy and warm inside. Mother Nature has surprised us again! This afternoon our temperatures are in the upper 30s. April showers, along with high winds, thunderstorms, and excessive rainfall totals all weekend are ending the month with more surprises

We wonder what the merry, merry month of May will bring…

What’s blooming in your garden or nearby park this week?

Have you noticed any garden surprises this month?

Enjoy the small wonders in each day!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today. Hope you will join in the conversation…

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Walking in Peace…

Hi Friends!

A quiet walk in nature always soothes my soul. Especially during these uncertain, often frightening times in our world, it helps to seek out an oasis of peace, calm, and beauty. Just one hour of walking amidst the blessings of Springtime on a Sunday afternoon really lifted my spirits! I hope it will lighten your heart as well, as you walk along with us…

As we left home, we didn’t have a definite plan about where we might walk yesterday. April showers during the past week have made many of our favorite walking places very muddy. As we drove, it suddenly dawned on both of us ~ a beautiful place of quiet and peace where we have walked in the past ~ the 40-acre grounds of the National Center of the Theosophical Society in America.  Although the Theosophical Society is closed on Sundays, the grounds are open during daylight hours and visitors are always welcome to enjoy a quiet walk.

So, we set off on our peaceful walk…

We wandered past the historic library building,

under the willow trees, across a tiny creek,

to the Perkins Pond at the south end of the campus.

A few feathered friends entertained us as we watched families of Canadian geese and ducks enjoying a relaxing, afternoon swim. Benches along the quiet pond invite visitors to pause and meditate, or sit and reflect upon the quiet beauty.

As we walked under the tall pines, following moss-covered stone paths,

we meandered from patch to patch of colorful Spring flowers,

deep in thought…

A bright patch of yellow

led us to our next peaceful place.

As we looked up, beyond the daffodils,

tucked in amongst the tall trees,

a sight stopped us in our tracks…

Our hearts smiled, as we carefully stepped

between the Spring blossoms

for a closer look.

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We lingered in this peaceful spot for a few moments,

speaking very softly,

not wanting to disturb the stillness.

Then we continued on our walk,

past an area filled with busy bee hives,

a prairie garden restoration underway,

across the squishy, rain-soaked grass,

and past a peaceful shrine

with candles aglow.

In the distance, I could see

the quiet oasis

where we have walked before.

In the middle of the peaceful, grassy area is a Cretan labyrinth. The large stepping stones set upon a field of pebbles is unicursal in design. Entering from the bottom of the labyrinth, visitors can walk its single, winding path from the circumference to the center and back out again.

Many years ago, we walked this labyrinth with a large, meditation group. I have also walked this labyrinth in quiet, private meditation. Since there is only one path to the center of the labyrinth and back out, it helps to quiet the mind while walking.

On Sunday afternoon we walked the labyrinth

peacefully,

on our own,

following the long, winding stone path.

While walking,

we lost track of direction,

of the outside world,

and although our feet were moving

our minds felt still.

Before leaving the grounds, we enjoyed a stop at the Quest Book Shop. It is a fascinating place to linger and explore, filled with books and other resources for meditation, yoga, health, metaphysics, psychology, and science encompassing beliefs from around the world.

 

Love.

Hope.

Nature.

Friendship.

Understanding.

Harmony.

Stillness.

Peace.

Namaste,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Thank you so much for stopping to visit today. ♥ Where do you enjoy walking in nature?

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Garden Memory-Keeping

Hi Friends!

My favorite days are those with quiet moments of reflection. Beginning my days by writing Morning Pages encourages me to nourish my creative soul. Ending my evenings with quiet time to write in my Gratitude Journal comforts even the busiest of days. As a new gardening season dawns upon us here in the Midwest, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the different ways I have preserved my garden memories over the years…

Thirty years ago this Spring, I bought my cozy, little bungalow with its large, mature garden. Oh, my! There was so much to learn (and remember) ~ both inside and outside!!  My dear, sweet parents would come visit every weekend to help with house restoration projects. My mom offered her sage wisdom as she taught me all about gardening. (Heartfelt thanks, Mom, for sharing your passion for gardening with me!) I definitely needed a place to hold all of this new learning!

That Spring, so long ago, my garden memory-keeping began…

My earliest garden journal was a simple, spiral sketchbook, filled with pencil-drawn maps of each flower bed. As I learned the names of my plants, I would happily add them to the little maps.  Plant tags and empty seed packets were taped into my journal as my garden grew. I took careful notes of how many flats of each annual I bought to add instant color on planting day, every year in mid-May.

Over the years, my gardening style evolved into cottage gardens filled with old-fashioned perennials… and my garden journal grew even more important. Each year, I happily dug, divided, and moved my perennials around and created new flower beds. Every Spring, I was so grateful that I had those little garden maps to help me identify the foliage as the perennials peeked through the soil!

Years later my garden grew again, as my dad and I worked together to build raised beds and a white picket fence to create my Herb & Tea Garden. My garden journal was filled with dreams, measurements, lists of culinary herbs and herbs for tea. (Huge thanks, Dad, for making my garden dream come true!)

Every year, I took photos to document the changes as my garden grew. With the advent of digital photography, my garden memory-keeping took a different turn. Instead of pencil and paper, I began recording the changes in my garden with weekly photographs of each perennial and herb bed. At the end of the growing season, I looked forward to creating a digital slide show of the year in the garden. I adored those slide shows, burned them to CDs, and shared them with family and friends. What could be sweeter on a cold, Winter’s day than to take a year-long ‘walk’ through the garden, while enjoying a cup of tea! It was also a great resource as I planned for the next gardening season.

For the past three gardening seasons, my blog has been a handy place for garden memory-keeping. It’s fun to look back to see when my perennials bloomed and to plan for changes in the garden. It has also been a great way to share plants with nearby friends. After seeing blossoms in blog photos, several friends have come to dig flowers to start gardens of their own. Sharing plants is truly one of my favorite joys of gardening!

Last summer, inspired by the wonderful book The Right-Size Flower Garden, I began making some very big changes in my garden. I decided to eliminate my large Cutting Garden bed, and transplanted several old-fashioned favorites to the borders of my Herb & Tea Garden. Next, I eliminated a very wild Butterfly Garden bed and created a History Garden bed filled with perennials that have been a part of my garden since long before I moved here. After all of these changes, I sketched and watercolored two new garden maps. Thank goodness for the garden maps! Now it is such a delight to watch the foliage of those perennials emerge in their new beds this Spring!

There will be many more big changes here during the 2017 gardening season as I continue to ‘right-size’ my perennial beds in the front yard. It feels like this could be the year that my garden will undergo the biggest changes of all.  In addition to garden maps, photos, and gardening blog posts, my heart has been wanting an extra-special way to preserve this year’s garden memories.

So, I have just begun keeping a journal of “Garden Joys.”

I think it will become a wonderful place for quiet reflection

and feelings about all of the changes ahead in my garden this year.

I’m excited to use a few art supplies from my little Paper Garden studio downstairs

as I document this year’s garden!

There will be a bit of doodling, along with bullet-style journal entries.

 So far, I’m really enjoying this style of memory-keeping!

It’s inspiring to try something so different from my earlier garden journals.

It’s a fun way to nourish my creative soul and grow…  just like my garden!

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Do you keep a garden journal or preserve your garden memories in some way?

Hope you will share with all of us!

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If you are curious about some different ways

that people document their gardens,

be sure to visit my blogging friend at Jean’s Garden.

Jean has done some interesting research on different varieties of

Garden Record-Keeping and has some very helpful tips to share!

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Thanks so much for stopping to visit!

Wishing you gentle showers followed by warm, sunny days…

It’s your time to bloom!

♡ Dawn

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Springtime Blessings!

Hi Friends!

Sunny Springtime greetings!

Today I’m counting my blessings out loud

as my very favorite season begins…

Bougainvillea in bloom in the Sonoran Desert, with the Superstition Mountains in the distance

I have been enjoying precious family time

in the Arizona desert.

Prickly Pear cacti in bloom

Admiring spectacular sunrises

and sunsets…

Saguaro silhouettes at sunset in the Sonoran desert

Sharing wonderful family memories with my parents,

as we talked about their childhood stories

and my childhood years.

Such delightful blessings to cherish!

Brittlebush in bloom fills the desert with sunshine in the Spring

Savoring long talks with my dad,

whose sage wisdom always guides me.

Strong, sturdy Saguaro cactus

Taking long walks with my mom,

a most charming gardener who teaches me so much

about living a sweet, joyful life.

It made my heart blossom as I helped them each day,

in the smallest of ways.

It is such a blessing to be able to help my parents now…

as we spend time together.

Helping to weed, deadhead, transplant, and water

in my mom’s desert garden

reminded me of how this charming gardener

taught me to garden,

thirty years ago,

when I bought a little house

with a large, mature garden of my very own.

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My beloved husband took care of everything here at home,

so that I could spend time with my parents.

He is one of life’s sweetest blessings!

Purple Trailing Lantana spilling over the red rocks

Brilliant blue skies, gentle breezes, and temperatures in the mid 90s

made the last days of Winter fly by much too quickly.

Just as my favorite season began,

I returned home to

the Midwest.

Today I spent hours in my own garden

(wearing a winter jacket),

as I pruned the ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea,

cut back the remaining stems and seed heads

left standing for the birds,

and peeked at all of the new growth in my garden beds.

From across the yard, I suddenly spotted

patches of  brilliant purple!

These miniature Irises are always the first blossoms of Springtime in my garden!

What a wonderful blessing to discover

miniature Irises

and Crocuses in full bloom…

just in time for

the first days of Spring!

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Wishing you abundant Springtime blessings, too!

(Be sure to count them out loud!)

Choose joy!

♡ Dawn

     P.S.  Hope you will share something you are grateful for as Spring begins!

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Gathered Sunshine

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Hi Friends!

January is typically our snowiest month here in the Midwest. However, January 2017 has been one of the least snowiest months on record. In addition to our snow drought, we have also been lacking much-needed sunshine all month long. In January, we only enjoyed six sunny days. Few and far between… those days were glorious indeed!

So, throughout this month I often called upon the wisdom of

a teeny, tiny kindred spirit for inspiration…

Have you met Frederick?

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This wise, little field mouse is the heartwarming hero of the wonderful children’s book,

Frederick, by Leo Lionni.

During the long, cold, difficult, winter days,

Frederick helped his little field mice friends feel warmth as he lifted their spirits.

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For you see, Frederick was a gatherer.

He gathered bright sun rays

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Frederick gathered breathtaking colors from nature…

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… and Frederick gathered wise words when the days were warm,

and held them until the days grew cold .

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Over the years, I have always felt a strong connection to our little Frederick, the poet-mouse.

For I am a gatherer, too!

I gathered these photo memories last April, while visiting dear family in Arizona.

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Tohono Chul Park, located in northwest Tucson

near the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains,

is a true gem!

Their mission is to enrich people’s lives

by connecting them with the wonders of

nature, art, and culture

in the beautiful Sonoran Desert,

while inspiring wise stewardship of nature’s gifts.

Tohono Chul Park is truly one of the loveliest places we have visited in Arizona.

It’s the perfect place to gather warm sun rays, breathtaking colors, and wise words!

I’m sure that Frederick would agree.

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If you haven’t read Frederick lately, do take a peek…

Frederick is celebrating

its 50th Anniversary this year.

He just might be your teeny, tiny kindred spirit, too!

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Thanks so much for stopping to visit today!

Scatter kindness and gather sunshine!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Do you have a favorite place to gather bright sunshine, beautiful colors, or wise words? Hope you will share with us!

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Picking Daisies

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Hi Friends!

Waiting in line has never been my ‘cup of tea,’ but this afternoon it felt different.

For I was waiting patiently in line, in my Daisy patch… behind all of the pollinators hard at work.

Slowly I inched my way into the large clump of Daisies, alongside the busy, little bees.

My morning work was finished, and my happy reward was picking Daisies.

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and Anemone seed heads

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and spent Anemone seed heads

As I waited for each little pollinator to move on, I began to count the blessings that the garden brought me this week. One-by-one, as I snipped each ‘He loves me’ Daisy, I remembered those sweet, heartwarming moments…

⚛ On Tuesday morning, as I was cutting the grass, our lawnmower stopped. Only halfway through the front yard, I tried and tried to restart the engine to no avail. David, a landscaper hard-at-work in a nearby yard, noticed my dilemma and came to the rescue. From his truck, he produced oil, a new spark plug, and his tools. Right there, in the middle of his busy morning, he adjusted the carburetor, and was able to start my lawnmower one more time. The kindness of a stranger had saved the day and I worked quickly to finish my job! (Shhhhh! I have a ‘thank you’ gift to leave in David’s truck when he comes to work in the neighborhood this week!)

⚛ Later that afternoon, while I was working in the garden, our neighbor, Jim, walked up. He had seen the lawn mower problem that morning, and ever-so-kindly offered to put the lawnmower into his truck and take it to a trusted repair shop. Now the repairman is trying so hard to work his magic, and then Jim will pick it up again with his truck. The kindness of a young neighbor (with a truck) is always so appreciated!

Raindrops on pink Clematis and Peony blossoms

Raindrops on Clematis and Peony blossoms

⚛ On Thursday morning, as I weeded the front garden beds, two lovely ladies stopped to chat as they walked past the garden. It was fun to talk with Susan, as we shared our tried-and-true tips for avoiding mosquito bites in the garden. A bit later, Devi stopped to introduce herself. She is a sweet, retired teacher, new to the neighborhood. It was such fun to tell her about our wonderful library and all that it offers! I invited her to step through the arbor to see my Friendship Garden in the backyard. Gardening always seems to invite the nicest passersby to stop and talk. It’s one of nature’s best kept secrets!

⚛ On Thursday afternoon, Elena stopped to visit. Since the day she was born, I have enjoyed watching her grow and blossom. She shared the exciting news that she now has a home of her own. Instantly, I offered to dig up perennials for her very first garden. So, plans are underway! It always warms my heart to share my garden and the gift of gardening with friends. Two other special friends, Hollice and Maria, will also come to dig up perennials to start gardens for their new homes this summer.

'Garden Grow' collage

Supplies used: Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, Canson watercolor paper, Versafine Onyx Black pigment ink, Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, paintbrush, water, and Post-It notes for masking images.

⚛ Saturday brought the blessing of gentle showers all day long. So, I happily spent many hours in my ‘Paper Garden’ studio downstairs. It was such fun to experiment with the Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, creating masks to design some little garden vignettes. As I watercolored the images, using Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, I thought about special friends who could use a bit of cheer. Soon these images will become the focal points on handmade cards. Creative time adds sunshine to the rainiest of days!

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia, after the rain

Picking Daisies this afternoon truly did feel like an exhilarating tonic for the soul!

As the sun shone down upon the blossoms,

I slowed down to nature’s pace and took time to reflect.

So many blessings from the garden brought unexpected joys to these early June days.

Sometimes… waiting in line can be blessing, too!

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Thank you so much for picking Daisies with me today.

Your visits and comments are such a joy!

Happy Springtime days!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What unexpected joys blessed you this past week?

Kindred Spirits…

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Hi Friends!

So many treasured moments to hold in our hearts forever!

Last week, a lovely group of kindred spirits gathered from across the Midwest

to enjoy a long-awaited, experience of a lifetime ~ Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch.

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For the past thirty years, Susan Branch‘s handlettered books, filled with lovely, watercolored illustrations have been such an inspiration in my life.  Our home and garden, our family traditions, our holiday celebrations, and most recently, our little blog, have soaked up the flavors of Susan’s creativity. Susan generously shares her gifts, time, and kindness with adoring readers from across the globe. She always shows us how much she appreciates her fans.

This summer, Susan and Joe are celebrating the publication of Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, already a New York Times Best Seller, by driving across the country to meet Susan’s devoted fans. Special events are planned in 23 different cities, as Susan visits small, independent bookstores across America.

Here in the Midwest, our excitement grew quickly, as tickets sold out and the big day drew near! Susan would be the celebrated guest at an Afternoon Tea in her honor, where she would speak, answer questions, and sign books for her fans (lovingly known as her Girlfriends). This event was Susan’s second fundraiser for The Women’s Exchange of Winnetka, where women are empowered to follow their creative spirit.

Please join us for Afternoon Tea ~ with Susan Branch…

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{♥ Photo credit: Linda M.}

Driving through heavy Chicago area traffic in a terrible rainstorm couldn’t even dampen our spirits on May 10th. We were all just thrilled to spend an afternoon with Susan Branch… and we were bringing our own ‘sunshine’ to welcome her! The Springtime downpour ended just in time for our special gathering of Girlfriends, at the beautiful Westmoreland Country Club, in Wilmette, Illinois.

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{♥ Photo credit: Linda M.}

A friend (who I met at Susan’s last tea party) and I arrived early so that we could visit. We have kept in touch through cards, emails, and our blog for the past two years. We shared a book, handmade cards, and perennials from our gardens with one another. True gifts of the heart, from kindred spirits! Very soon more Girlfriends arrived and we quickly discovered that we were all kindred spirits. The Girlfriends at our table came from several towns in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. We enjoyed getting to know one another, as we waited for Susan to arrive. {Huge, heartfelt thanks to Linda, Jo, and Karen, who graciously shared photos for today’s post!}

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Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, is an inspiring, handlettered, watercolored memoir. It is the most wonderful book!! Based upon diaries that she has kept her entire life, Susan has written her memoir in three parts. She thinks of The Fairy Tale Girl as the appetizer, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams as the main course, and A Fine Romance as the dessert. Susan’s devoted readers have hungrily awaited each new book in this delicious trilogy!

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As guests continued to arrive for the tea party, a hum of excitement began to build throughout the room. I stepped into the lobby, peeked out the window, and to my surprise… standing outside all alone (while Joe parked the van) was Susan Branch! Without even stopping to think, I went out on the porch to greet her. (It must be the teacher in me!) I welcomed Susan and there were several big hugs ~ just the two of us! We talked about all of the places they had visited so far on this trip, our parents, and Susan’s excitement to meet everyone. (Thankfully, I had my camera in hand to capture this unexpected moment, while we waited for Joe!)

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It was time for Susan and Joe to be escorted inside by Deb, the event planner. There were 140 excited Girlfriends (and even some Guy friends) waiting inside! Still on cloud nine, I quietly ‘floated’ back to my table at the tea party. Then it dawned on me what had just happened… a treasured moment, totally unexpected, captured in my heart forever!

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The tea party was a feast for our eyes and taste buds. Fresh fruits, delectable tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts filled our plates, while stacks of our beloved Susan Branch books added a literary touch to our tables!

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{♥ Photo credit: Jo R.}

Susan visited each table, warmly greeting all of the Girlfriends, while Joe took pictures and chatted with everyone. Susan and I enjoyed another quiet conversation, as I eagerly shared how closely I connected with her first home on Martha’s Vineyard. She bought her little home, Holly Oak, on her own, and with help was able to create the home and garden of her dreams. I knew just how she felt… and how this little home would forever be a part of her heart! Kindred spirits!

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{♥ Photo Credit: Linda M.}

It was time for Susan’s talk. She positively glowed with excitement and charm. Can’t you just feel the excitement in the air? Susan shared several favorite stories from her memoirs, talked about the writing process, answered all of our questions, and even delighted us with a little song.  She brought along two very special books to share with us.

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{♥ Photo Credit: Joe Hall}

Susan shared how important Girlfriends have been throughout her life. We felt the same emotions as we listened with rapt attention and so much admiration. Kindred spirits, one and all!

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Susan shared stories of growing up, in California, as the oldest of eight children. She talked about the important lessons she learned from her parents. She shared the exciting news about selling the movie rights for her memoir. Together we suggested actresses that could portray Susan and the actor who could play the role of Joe, in a movie or tv series based upon her life.

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Getting to know her readers and talking one-on-one with each of us might be Susan’s favorite part of her booksigning tours. We each wore nametags (designed by Susan), so she recognized each of us right from the start. Many of the Girlfriends already know Susan quite well from her engaging blog comments, Twitter feed, and popular Facebook page. What a treat it was to visit in person that afternoon! Kindred spirits!

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The heartwarming stories that we shared, let Susan know just how much her books mean to all of the Girlfriends. Susan took the time to connect heart-to-heart with every one of us.

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Out of the blue, Susan mentioned our little blog, letting me know that she has visited here quietly many times. I was so touched, that it was hard to even soak it all in! Susan’s kind, generous words will remain in my heart forever. Practically speechless, I do remember telling her that she was my inspiration for creating this happy gathering place for kindred spirits. ♡

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The lines at Susan’s book signing events  are always very long… and filled with joy! For it is in these lines, that new friends meet and old friends reunite. Just imagine spending time in line chatting with women who share all the same passions. In line, I met a new friend who just happens to live four blocks from me! We both love teaching, gardening, decorating, and travel. Kindred spirits! Over the years, whenever I passed by her house, I always admired the charming, white picket fence, grapevine wreath, and pretty shutters. It’s so lovely to know that we both find our inspiration from Susan’s books! We are already planning to visit one another’s gardens this summer.

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A friend from Wisconsin met another Girlfriend standing in line, who lives in the same town, very close to her! It’s just amazing to make such wonderful connections while waiting in a booksigning line. Yet we all understand how Susan brings kindred spirits together!

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Of course, there were warm hugs! ♥ Lots of hugs!

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I feel so blessed to have met Susan at three different booksigning events over the years. As she signed each book, I told Susan about how that book connected with my life. I told her how the recipes in her books have become part of our family traditions. I shared my tradition of gifting her Love book to each of my friends as bridal shower gifts many years ago, but never bought a copy for myself, since I never planned to be married. At the tea party, a special friend gifted me with a copy of this out-of-print book, and Susan signed it for my husband and I that very day. It felt like a complete circle of love!

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I told Susan how I used her ribbon bookmark to mark a passage that spoke to my heart in each book. Susan’s books are always filled with the most wonderful, handlettered quotations!  Imagine my surprise, when I shared how this page and quotation in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams was so important to me… and Susan told me that it was also her most cherished quotation! ♥ Kindred spirits!

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Joe joined us for a photo, too!

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Old friends reunited… and new friends getting to know one another!

Kindred spirits, one and all!

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Heartfelt thanks for coming to visit us, dear Susan and Joe!

Safe travels as you spread happiness from coast to coast!

We are all still smiling and floating on cloud nine!

Kindred spirits are like that!

Hugs from the Heartland!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Do you have a favorite Susan Branch book? Let us know if you have met Susan at a booksigning event. If you write a blog post about it, be sure to share a link with us!