grateful, simply and wildly grateful

IAM GRATEFUL THIS MORNING for another vivid pink dawn, and a size-XXL black cat that purrs loudly at the sight of me. Things weren’t always so peaceful between me and Jack the Demon Cat, a semi-wild stray who adopted me but kept his distance—then regularly came closer and took his precision-aim swipes at living things like my arms. Things weren’t always so peaceful between me and my whole life. But I am aware each day of how much has changed, and of these reasons to be grateful:

FOR THE CHANCE to live in the garden, finally, after more than 20 years of back-and-forth weekending. Even nearly three years in to my “new” life, I awaken astonished every day, and remain transfixed by all its intricate goings-on. Were all these mammals, insects, reptiles, birds—not to mention the plants—really this busy doing fantastic things together all those years when I was absent?

FOR FINALLY, after two prior winters of practice, having figured out the right long underwear and the right anti-skid winter footwear to sail through whatever gives. (No, I am not a spokesperson for either.) The question of the right warm slippers remains elusive.

FOR A CELLAR full of garlic and potatoes (sweet and white) and onions and squash, and two freezers full of everything else I grew. With the joy of homegrown food—which sustains us both in the growing, the cooking, and the eating—I am wildly blessed.

FOR THE INTERNET, whose unimaginable range of applications and other super-powers allows us all to learn and connect even when we choose a life of rural solitude.  Particularly for WordPress, the platform that powers this site, and the extended family it has brought to me.

FOR THE OPPORTUNITY to write again—both the memoir coming out in February called “And I Shall Have Some Peace There” (meaning right here), and now another one. Yes, I am starting on the next book, thanks to my faithful editor, and all I can reveal is that the garden has a major role in its plot.

FOR SOMEONE to share it all with (even if he is really hairy and, truth be told, snores loudly). Kidding—I didn’t mean Jack, or at least not only Jack—I meant my tiny but fierce family; my tight little circle of old, old friends; my increasingly neighborly neighbors on this dirt road in this town of 300 that is my true home; and all of you. Thanks for your faithful visits, your comments that make me think and rethink everything we ”talk” about. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Top photo by my beloved friend Erica Berger.)

  1. Susan says:

    I just want to tell you I’ve read your book, and it is wonderful!! I own an independent bookstore in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and picked up an advanced reader’s copy recently. It really is such a delightful book, and a book people will really want to own, because they’ll want to go back to it again and again. I’m a huge fan now of all your writing. Love the blog and newsletter!

  2. Sharon says:

    Thank you Margaret for reminding me how much I have to be grateful for…even in these unpredictable times. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Peg says:

    Dear Margaret, I have been promoting you to my staff and my email list for maybe a year now. I open your news..and I find refreshment and encouragement.

    And I experience a little longing for the peace and control you have found in this “new” life you have. I trust in my longings, and myself,. thank you.

    My favorite slippers are made by “Goody”. They have a great website. the slippers are cushioned and warm..and silent.

    1. Margaret says:

      It is so wonderful to come home from supper with my sister, brother-in-law and niece and have all these delicious comments to feast on. :)

      Welcome to first-time commenters (I think you are all first-time, or you have posted under a different name!) Sharon, Susan (your comment brought tears here!), Judi, Peg (thank you for the slipper recommendation!), Mel, Leslie. Delighted to meet you all. I hope this will not be the last I hear from you. And I hope your holidays were wonderful.

  4. Carol Bass says:

    I am thankful for you, your beautiful blog and garden, your radio show, your freezers full of goodies for the winter (wow!), and so much more. But envious that Susan has already read your book!! I am very much looking forward to February and the prospects that another book will follow that one. That is wonderful! Your life there….with all its peacefullness….gives me hope and something to look forward to.

    Many sweet wishes to you so you may continue to share with us all.

  5. Anne says:

    Among the many things I’m grateful for today is the inspiration, advice and nudging you provide throughout the year. Happy thanksgiving!

  6. Bobster says:

    Like so many others I’m grateful for your generosity in sharing your inspiration, observations and endless curiosity with us. AWTG is my ‘go-to’ when I need a happy garden moment to shake me out of the doldrums, to reawaken my senses, and a timely reminder of what needs to be done…regardless of how much I’ve been procrastinating.

    Thank you! Wishing you (and Jack TDC) a wonderful holiday season!

  7. Chris from California says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Margaret, I haven’t posted in a long time, but logged on tonight and read your beautiful, sweet letter. I wish the world was filled with people like you! Have a wonderful holiday season and thank you so much for your sweetness and generosity.

  8. Brian G. says:

    Thank you. As I think I’ve told you, you and your garden are my favorite and most welcomed distraction (also a fantastic and generous teacher to all your followers).
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Margaux Drake says:

    Margaret, I am grateful to have stumbled upon your gold mine of information late one night earlier this year. Little did I know when I was looking up images of ligularia that I was going to find a mentor with amazing talents, knowledge, energy, and “i’m gonna do this myselfness”. And, that this person was already WAY down the “AWAY” path that I was just feeling brave enough to step foot upon. You continue to inspire me both in content and philosophy. Thank you for all of it. YOU GO GIRL!

  10. Valarie says:

    I hope you had a very Happy Thankgiving Margaret. This is a beautiful list to be abundantly thankful for . This is my first visit to your blog and it won’t be my last. I enjoyed my time here so very much.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Valarie. t was a nice day; quiet and just lots of fresh, local ingredients and simple recipes. Glad to have you visit, and look forward to more on my end, too.

  11. Carole Clarin says:

    thank you for touching so many of our hearts as you have touched “jack’s” and thank you for your on-going inspiration!

  12. Susan Harris says:

    Margaret, what are you doing with MY XXL-sized black cat? Or as I’ve learned they’re often called – Tuxedo cats. Like the Clintons’ Socks. And apparently always obese, and sooo lovable. Mine is also wonderful with the 2 rambunctious invaders in his territory – the 8-month-olds.

    1. Margaret says:

      @Susan: You’re correct: a tuxedo. The funny thing about Jack is that he has always been 15.8 pounds — when we first met 9+ years ago, and also now (at about 11 or 12). He is size XXL as in a giant — the vet had to place him in a crate for a medium-sized dog after surgery recently, because he cannot fit into a cat carrier (too tall and long for it). So not obese, but gigantic. Even his tail is super-long and thick. And he growls when someone pulls in the driveway. I think he may be part dog. :)

  13. fran schulenberg says:

    Like everyone else, I get so much out of your posts. Like you, I have given up my day job (in my case it was retirement). While I may have looked back on occasion, I have never regret the decision and nor have I ever been bored. Being able to devote more time to my garden has been the ultimate reward, as has being able to appreciate every new day and to do things I never had time for. I have begun a vegan journey as well, which has had its ups and downs. Just knowing that you are a vegetarian as well as a gardener as well as someone who was brave enough to start something new (ie, leave a successful career for a more peaceful one) has been very affirming to me.

    Thanks for the ‘Love Soup’ tip last fall, it has become one of my favorite cookbooks.
    Glad you and Jack have bonded. I think I remember you saying that you were a dog person before he consented to adopt you. Thought for the future: a bearded dragon lizard. My husband & I were left with this creature when our son moved out. We both grew to love him and his quirky personality despite initial reluctance to be in the same room with his tank!

    Hope your Thanksgiving weekend was amazing.

  14. Rae Koberna says:

    All your devoted fans have said it all. It’s now Monday after Thanksgiving and I have enjoyed climbing into my sweats, sitting with my cocker spaniel Abbey, and trying to catch up on four days of newspapers and all the crazy ads. Some of my grandschildren are back at college or in their own town now, but I really enjoyed their visit. Thank you for the messages you send from the garden.

  15. Tricia says:

    I am thankful to have discovered your blog which provides a constant source of inspiration and learning. I always feel relaxed and happy when I have read one of your articles or listened to your radio show—they transport me to another place. Thank you Margaret.

  16. Helen says:

    “And I Shall Have Some Peace There” is an inspiration…..thank you.

    Best warm slippers…..llbean.com…..wicked good moccasins, lined with shearling, in red color….

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