The Garden’s Stirring! And I’ve Book News…

Back in December I seeded Catalina spinach and Paris Market greens mix (both from Renee’s Garden, my favorite seed provider) in two flats as an experimental windowsill garden. I figured those flats would give Richard and I some fresh greens through the winter. And they did: they sprouted in about ten days, and two weeks later, we were eating baby greens. Those flats produced a handful or two of tender and colorful greens every several days for almost two months, until the plants got so root-bound that they struggled, and aphids found them.

Then I did what I should have done about a month before, and bought a plastic dish tub. I laid a layer of gravel about an inch and a half deep in the bottom for drainage, than added five inches of organic potting soil, and transplanted the spinach. (The lettuce was too sad to save–it went to the compost.) A few days later, the spinach had perked up again and was producing new leaves. Now I’m back to harvesting a handful every two days or so. And are they sweet! Richard eats them raw with his lunch.

That’s a shot of the windowsill spinach garden today (after I picked our lunch–it was more leafy before!). Notice the green algae growing where the soil meets the gravel, a side effect of buying a translucent tub. (It allows light to reach the soil, encouraging the algae, which need that light to photosynthesize.) These microscopic green lives don’t hurt anything, and may even help cleanse the air that filters through the soil. And they’re a lovely hint of spring (and St. Patrick’s Day) to come.

Outside, the kitchen garden is stirring, despite a serious drought with no real snow since early December and loads of wind and Rhubarbunusually warm days. I’ve watered our raised beds every few weeks for the past two months. Still, the surface is dry and wind-blown. The dwarf iris and snow crocus are blooming despite the drought and browsing deer (For the latter I keep an assortment of plastic tubs and buckets to cover the clusters of emerging plants at night). 
And the rhubarb leaves are emerging in wrinkly masses. The spinach I planted outside last fall is beginning to take off, and I expect to see asparagus spears in a few weeks. Spring is on its way to our high-desert valley, drought or no. Unless we get some snow soon, it’s going to be a very brown spring though. If I knew a snow dance, I’d be doing it. As it is, the landscape I love is hurting, along with its community of lives. I hurt with them.

ImagesmallOn a happier note, I’ve all sorts of book news. First, Colorado Scenic Byways, my collaboration with photographer Jim Steinberg exploring the soul of the state through its designated scenic routes, is a finalist for the 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year Awards! These Awards honor independently published books in a variety of categories, including travel guides, where Colorado Scenic Byways made the cut. It’s in lovely company, along with guides by Caxton Books, Moon Guides, and gorgeous guide to 
Michelangelo’s Rome. (I’d like to go there.)

Walking Nature Home got its first national notice in a recent issue of Library Journal. It was positive (whew!) and ended with this lovely endorsement: “Fans of the natural world and how it corresponds to our own biology will find a kindred spirit in this provocative story.”

My first official event to promote Walking Nature Home is coming up March 21st, at Salida’s own Regional Library, as part of the Arts at the Library series. Sherrie York, illustrator extraordinaire, will be joining me for a conversation and reading from the book. (For details and more book events, check my web site.)

 The real fun starts March 23, when I’ll kick off my blog book tour, spanning 11 blogs (and one free national teleseminar) and nearly three weeks. I’ll open the tour here, with a post about the book and an annotated schedule of my stops, along with details on how to call in and join the teleseminar. (Don’t I sound all 21st century?) Here’s a quick glimpse at the tour, to give you an idea:

Homecover3/25: Women Writing the West’s blog, with “My Book’s Published. Now What?”
3/27: Janet Riehl’s Riehllife newsmagazine blog draws from the village wisdom of many cultures
3/29: Deb Robson’s Independent Stitch blog on fiber arts, life, and publishing
3/31: Sharman Apt Russell and friends’ Love of Place blog explores our ties to landscape and home
4/2 Knitting wizard and author Donna Druchunas’ Sheep to Shawl blog
4/4 Artist, writer, gardener, and college professor Susan Tomlinson’s The Bicycle Garden blog
4/6 Brush and Baren, the blog of artist and nature journal publisher Sherrie York, who also is the illustrator of Walking Nature Home.
4/7 Women’s Memoirs, the web site of the dynamic duo of memoir authors and coaches, Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett
4/8 Sculptor Susan Gallacher-Turner’s blog on art and life
4/9 Teleseminar with Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett, 6 p.m. RMT. A free 20-30 minute interview where I’ll be answering questions from readers around the country.
4/10 Telling HerStories: The Broad View, the group blog of Story Circle Network, a national group of women focused on writing our lives
4/12 Back home to this blog with a wrap-up of the tour.

One final note: Walking Nature Home is already getting some nice mentions in the blogosphere. Read Deb Robson’s lovely pre-review recommendation, and this thoughtful comment on Catena Expressions. Plus, here’s  Sherrie York’s excitement on seeing the book for the first time.

The wind’s howling down the valley tonight, and I’m snug inside on the couch. But soon I’ll be out on the road, and on the virtual trail as well, promoting the book of my heart. Join me and celebrate!