Making The Rounds

People ask me how I don’t get bored running the same loop after over twenty years. Out the door, up the road that leads out of the village towards the Jura mountains, past the little château and then up through the fields that skirt the French border to Switzerland. The loop is a little over…

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Rock Fountain

We have a small flagstone terrace at the entrance to our old house in eastern France. It’s modest, and when we moved here, it was just flagstones surrounded by the gravel of the driveway. There was one additional element to it: An old millstone next to the front door. The millstone is basically a big…

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Shifting Perspective

The dirt track between vineyards on the shores of Lake Geneva looked nothing like a road, but my GPS system insisted this was the way to my destination. As it turned out, the tractor-rutted road did lead to my friend’s house, but the route was neither the most direct nor the best maintained. On my…

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Tough Puffs

Dandelions are one of those plants that people love to hate. They’re tenacious, perennial, copious; their tap roots run deep and even cut blossoms will still turn to seed heads if they aren’t culled early enough. Their leaves spread flat and wide, smothering anything beneath. If we didn’t hate them, we’d love them for their…

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Jurassic Garden

There’s a lot of evidence that gardening with plant species native to one’s area can promote a healthier ecosystem for plants, insects, animals and birds. But how do we even go about planting a truly native garden, and what are the challenges involved? A few years ago, I walked around the hedgerows and fields of…

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Fling The Stars

Several villages in the corner of eastern France where I live have started shutting off town streetlights from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Until now, I never realized just how much having streetlights had formed my idea of what a community looks like at night. Last year, flyers were hand-delivered to homes, informing us that…

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Vehicular Pollination

A cold winter and a short spring have left a short window for many species of trees and plants to release wind-borne pollen – so they are doing it all at once. It’s an adaptation for them, and we have to adapt. Part of that adaptation, I suppose, is that all of our vehicles are…

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Silly Bees

Every year, solitary carpenter bees make themselves at home in our wood window casings. I can see their little bee butts working away in there. The question is, what to do about it? Now, I admit, the drainage holes in the windows look mighty inviting. But because the windows open and shut, any growing bees…

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Earth Day Is Your Day

A few thoughts on what Earth Day means for all of us. From my window right now, I can see two European magpies exploring my small garden – I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, and I suppose they are scouting for anything interesting that was revealed. The resident flock of sparrows…

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Embroidered Learning

I had to learn two very different skill sets as a girl: needlepoint and geography. Who would have thought that at one time, girls were expected to learn the two together? What an unexpected interdisciplinary education! Among the women in my family, right up to my generation in the 1970s, needlework and yarn work were…

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