Letters from the Settlement: Mayday

I think we are out of the woods.


Spring beauty. Dutchman’s breeches. Violets: blue, white, yellow. Trilliums: red, white. Wild phlox. Virginia bells. Bloodroot. Mayflowers. I am watching all this carefully because with luck, it is the last springtime I will see it. My husband and I spent the early part of April scouting out a new homestead, in a very different kind of forest.


We’re after a milder climate, among other things. He has rosacea, and the biting winters and ferociously sunny summers here are hell on it. We also long for water, for tides, for tidepools and the critters that live in ’em. We long for fresh shellfish. We long for primordial woodland.


Whether the move will happen is not yet guaranteed, but we think we’re in a good position. Time will tell.

In the meantime: life goes on. We have half our things packed up and are trying to live off what’s in the pantry. Over time the beans, grains, and baking staples dooooo build up, and it is time to eat them. Domestic thing that I am, seeing my possessions packed away knocks me off balance, and no I am not looking forward to the journey west with a cat and a four-year-old, but we’ll make it. God willing, we’ll make it.


It is the season when all my walks happen outdoors. Besides the wildflowers, there is the wildlife. The deer are hidden in the leafing trees, now. This month all of my interesting sightings were birds. While my husband and I walked around what we hope will be our new home, a wild turkey gobbled persistently in the distance. One morning I saw a pheasant not twenty feet away, on the verge of the trees. And yesterday when I was walking a buzzard circled and landed above me . . . and a second . . . and a third. I had sniffed an off-odor at just that place the day before, so I was reasonably sure they weren’t after me, but it was eerie.

And then a little hawk showed up and scared them away. Wheel, dive bomb, peck-peck. It drove off all three of them. I smiled; the protagonist in my new book is named Peregrine. Maybe it was a little sign.


Foods of April: soup. Pots and pots of soup. Vegetable-barley. Gumbo. Chicken tortilla. Lentil and spinach. With so much to do outside, who has time to chew?

I’ll see you in a month. Maybe there will be definite news, by then.


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