An unexpected gift

We had to remove an apple tree in our garden. Over the years it had grown much more than expected, and so a very old rose, nearly dead and hardly visible was forgotten in its shadow.
With the tree gone, the rose revived. It started to grow at the beginning of November, and now, a day before December, untouched by frost as yet, has fifteen gorgeous roses on it. A wondrous fragrance rises from them, warm and fragile, deep and beautiful – a scent I am sure only a winter rose can give, in celebration of survival, life, and the discovery of light even in dark and cold days.
My mother always told me when she came home from the war and the train carried her through a destroyed Germany, she saw a magnolia tree blooming undismayedly among the charred remains of crumbled houses. Whenever she got discouraged and lost hope and faith, she thought of that magnolia tree, and it gave her strength. Later, she planted one in our garden.
I think this winter rose will be a magnolia tree in my mind, though not the only one.


The colors of Fall…

…need no words at all 🙂

When stories nest

A pair of blackbirds is building nest after nest in our garden, then give it up. Too drafty, too many cats, squirrels and humans, too noisy – who knows. Or maybe they just enjoy building, though I doubt it. Yet, when they have finished one, perfect, inviting and pretty, there seems to be an almost human gleam of satisfaction in their eyes.
It is as with writing stories. We enjoy the effort and process of crafting them and take pride in the finished work, even if it sits abandoned in our desk drawer, sleeps in some publisher’s slush pile or collects dust in print on the shelves of some bookstore. And promptly we begin again. A story always has potential. The nest could be filled with eggs that give life to chicks who eventually stretch their wings to join in the greatest story of all. Our stories could find readers out there, delight someone we will never hear of. If not – well, they give us writers the ultimate freedom, the chance to imagine us into a life different from ours for the time it takes to plait it into words, sentence by sentence, as the blackbird adds twig by twig, breaking into song in between.
No matter what time of year, in a way it is always spring when a story is begun.

Too green for writing

Some days are just too green to spend them writing. This unfolding luminescent green seeps into every thought, every nook and cranny of my mind and all I can do is be part of the song and dance outside: the softness of young grass, the colorful taste of spring air, the blackbird’s liquid notes drifting through the april play of rain and light and the tiny inquisitive winds whispering around corners. This morning a robin was splashing in the birdbath in the middle of a shower, doubling the silver drops that clung to my small part of the world like a statement of joy. Surrounded by all this growth and exultation, I feel like a diminutive, happy and breathless creature.

Still beauty

The leaf of a water lily was turned upside down and pressed underwater by some autumn wind, then froze. It never thawed, never decayed all these months. Now the snow is gone and the ice is clear, showing the perfect round of the leaf, with fringes of tiny silver bubbles around its edge, bigger bubbles sitting like pearls along its ribs,  and even larger bubbles hovering over it in an unmoving dance.  This accidental and durable thing of breathless beauty makes me think of precious memories, mental snapshots unshakeable in my mind, undramatic yet unforgettable scenes  living their own slow dance in remembrance, gaining silver fringes over time.

These are the things that make me write: the memories, the dance of their light, and the mystery of the fringes.

When spring comes, the leaf  will sink to the ground and feed the roots of the water lily, and all summer it will bloom, gaudy colors floating dreamily over the dark depths.


Das Blatt einer Seerose wurde von einem Herbststurm umgedreht und unter Wasser gedrückt. Dann fror es ein. Bis heute ist es nicht aufgetaut. Nun ist der Schnee verschwunden, das Eis klar; man sieht das perfekte Rund des Blattes mit Fransen aus winzigen silbernen Luftblasen an der Kante. Größere Blasen reihen sich seine Rippen entlnag, und über ihm schweben noch größere in einem reglosen Tanz. Dieses Ding versehentlicher und überraschend dauerhafter Schönheit läßt mich an wertvolle Erinnerungen denken, mentale Schnappschüssse die in meinem Denken unzerstörbar bleiben: undramatische und dennoch unvergessliche Szenen in ihrem eigenen langsamen Tanz in meiner Lebensgeschichte, die über die Jahre ebenfalls silberne Fransen gewinnen.

Das ist es, was mich schreiben lässt: die Erinnerungen, der Tanz ihres Leuchtens, das Geheimnis der Fransen.

Im Frühling wird das Blatt sinken und die Wurzeln der Seerose nähren.Sie wird einen ganzen Sommer blühen, triumphierende Farben die über dunklen Tiefen treiben, unbekümmert von ihrer Vergänglichkeit.

A tiny teacher

It is impossible for me to have a favourite flower, but I think the one I admire most is the snowdrop. So simple and clear, white in a gesture of courtesy to winter, but with a hopeful core of green speaking insistently of spring. It gets up earlier than all its comrades, defiantly pushing through hard, frosty earth and emerging when you least expect it. Its slender leaves point towards the sky, leaving no doubts as to its aim. It ducks smoothly under layers of snow, but rises unfazed as soon as possible. Its flower hangs from a thread-thin stalk that dances in any storm without breaking. It opens its petals to sunlight only, and otherwise patiently bides its time. I would like to have some of its qualities, and every year the snowdrop is here to remind me to work at that.