Step into the mystical and magical forests of Upstate New York, where Earth and Sky camp photographer Brooke Meadows has taken refuge from the demons of her past as she uses her ability to communicate with the dead to heal loved ones left behind.
Unable to cope with the loss of his wife and daughters three years prior, Josh Quinn, CEO of the number one dating site Quirkyflirt.com, is ordered by his board president to take a break from his Big Apple Headquarters. He finds himself at Earth and Sky Retreats, where confronting his grief has led him to experience a life-altering transformation and re-evaluation of reality.
Will Josh leave behind his fast-paced, high society life in the concrete mountains of New York City, for the magical, bewitching world Brooke reveals to him in the foothills of the Adirondacks?
Will Brooke acknowledge and accept her own journey of transformation and healing as she and Josh explore the winding paths and summits that lead them to find love in the forest?
My little side garden, about as cultivated as I get.
Many decades ago, a woman named Margaret Alfano changed my perception of gardening with a single sentence. I pointed to a purple flower growing in her lawn in pristine Mt. Sinai, Long Island, and said, “Even the weeds are pretty here.”
She shook her head in dismay, the wisdom etched in her wrinkles as she scrunched up her face in a look of pity. “Dear. Weeds are only flowers growing where people don’t want them.” She then went on to tell me the “weeds” I’d commented on were violets, and that she used to dig them up and replant them, but now she just let’s them be, as nature intended.
I never forgot that wisdom, or Mrs. Alfano. She was not only an activist for wildflowers, but a champion of her community, fighting a good civic fight whenever the people needed a voice. While visiting Long Island pre-Covid, I found her grave and gave thanks as she now rested beneath the earth she loved and nurtured.
Two lifetimes and 300 miles later, I look around my Mohawk Valley home where I’ve allowed Mrs. Alfano’s sage advice to guide me in the nurturing of my own property. Maple saplings grow where they will. Lavender bushes pop up occasionally here and there. An apple tree appeared out of no where a few years back. Forget me nots, phlox, peppermint and spearmint, scallions, coltsfoot, chicory, and other nameless herbs and wildflowers grow where they decide. And thanks to Mrs. Alfano, I leave them be, creating a magical, wild place of harmony where song birds and chipmunks, bunnies, deer, squirrel, beloved crows, woodchucks, turkey, and other mostly unseen creatures gather and commune.
A few years back, a small circle of daisies appeared in the back yard, presenting as magically as if the Fae themselves had planted them. I warned David of their existence, and he made sure to mow around them until I could contain them (ha!) within a circle of stones.
The following year they spread to around the outside of the stone circle. So I enlarged it. Lovingly, mind you.
The following year another daisy cluster popped up, about 20 feet to the west of the first patch of daisies.
And another appeared to the north the following year. And yet another to the east the year after that. So every year, for a good part of the summer, we have pockets of unmown lawn where the daisies decide to play.
This year our mower broke down, and after borrowing a good friend’s trailer, we trekked our 19 year old riding mower to the local hardware store, where after a week we were told we had to retire the old guy. So we borrowed Wayne’s trailer again, put him out by the road with a “FREE” sign and he was gone by the next evening (the riding mower, not Wayne).
We finally picked up a new riding mower and FINALLY got the chance to mow our foot and a half high lawn. (Sorry, NEIGHBORS!)
So while David mowed, he did some hefty maneuvering around our little Daisy Pods. It looks a little funny, but I don’t have the heart to cut them down. And thankfully, neither does he. Best guy ever.
It was then I realized I don’t garden my property. I guard-en it. And all the wild things let me know where they want to live, and I let them.
After all, they were here first. We are just guests.
In the early morning silence, rising sun casts crystalline shadows over shimmering snow. Silence permeates wooden floors, frosted windows, aging walls. I sip coffee, reading, subconsciously listening to the Music of the Rising Sun. It weaves around me, a rhythmic beating mingled with the rhythmic breathing of my sleeping cats, keeping time with Mom’s old clock clicking, ticking minutes away. It beckons me softly, on invisible waves of sound. Ebbing and flowing. Ebbing and flowing. Rising and falling. Cascading softly. When I finally notice… I crook my head and listen. Silence. Refocused on my reading, my heart listens again. The music pulses like strains of violins In the far off distance. It builds and lulls, builds and lulls. I struggle not to notice, enraptured by its beauty. My subconscious sings along in the early morning silence.
After I wrote this poem this morning, I decided to research a bit to see if there were sounds recorded in the Universe that might match what I heard. I listened to a number of NASA recordings of the planets, some similar. Some not. Then I thought… does the Sun make sound?
And what I found most closely represents what I heard this morning as the Sun was rising.
So in essence, I heard an early morning Sun Symphony. I also read that Sun sounds sound like a heart beat. And that is what this tone was doing.
I am humbled and awe inspired at the same time.
This recording is the closest sound I could get to what I heard. The steady tone in the background, not the Om sound, but the more musical sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kg…
Blessed be all that is and all that shall be in the Universe.
I could be a hoarder if I did not have people around me supporting me with lots of TLC, annnnnd if the spirit of my mother did not haunt me regularly telling me to get rid of things. But those very things I hang on to, those chachkah’s that she always complained were dust collectors, are usually linked to a memory of her, or my children when they were young. Or my sister. Or cousin. or close friend, or happy times.
Oy. You see what I’m dealing with?
Don’t get me wrong. The downstairs of my house is clean and kept and organized. It’s ready for company. However, the upstairs is a bit different. For the last year, it’s been like those files in the back of your brain where everything you can’t let go of but don’t have the energy to process goes hidden and unchecked.
All four bedrooms on my second floor have become an extension of the attic, an extension of my life, the file cabinet of memories sometimes too tender to process.
My husband and I moved downstairs to the library in the front of the house after my last surgery, last January, since I could not climb stairs for a while. We liked it so much we made it our permanent bedroom. Bright and sunny, big windows, an entrance to the front porch (and you know how I love my front porch!). So our upstairs master bedroom became the room for the garage sale that never was and the Good Will collection site.
My daughter’s room held her things left behind when she went to college, and then moved into her own apartment. My son’s room held most of his memorabilia from his youth, then furniture from my mom after she passed.
The guest bedroom is the entrance to the attic, and so of course that held all our seasonal stuff that didn’t make it to the attic because, well, I wanted to go through it and weed out the stuff we didn’t use anymore. What is that saying about good intentions?
So anyway, something monumental recently happened in my personal life, and afterwards it was like I woke up from a coma. These past two weeks I’ve purged and cleaned out our laundry room, started purging furniture I don’t need anymore, bought a new vacuum (a Dyson!), and cleaned out my son’s room, making it my office. I wish I’d taken a “before” picture of it, but I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to post it.
I’m in the middle of painting the trim of the office and painting the desk from my younger years and I got caught up in memories of my mom and my childhood and it was paralyzing. The pain of my mom being gone collided with her spirit voice urging me on as she has been the last few days and I needed to take a break. So here I am.
My mom never stopped. Except when she was struggling with depression or physical ailments. She was always wallpapering, painting, cleaning . . . or, okay, yeah napping or enjoying her front porch. I used to be just like her, until a few months before COVID hit. Devastating news hit my family and just as I was straightening up from that blow, we were quarantined and the world as I knew it turned upside down.
But this past week, the light grew brighter, the emotional storms settled down, and life started to right itself. And the old me woke up, with my mom prodding me to get my act together and get my house in order. That meant purging and wallpapering ’til midnight, stopping only to cook dinner and eat.
So here is my desk, before and during the renovation. I was going to strip it down and keep the wood finish, but Jeana pointed out that painting it white would brighten it up. Thanks, Beana! She was right.
In my youth, this desk held pens and paper, crayons and pencils, blank paper, magazines, cool things like rocks and shells, and anything else a ten year old thought was important to treasure. I’d forgotten about it until I opened a drawer, then it all materialized in my memory as if the drawers were full again.
During my teen years it held make-up, brushes and combs and clips and things, and and note cards, magazines, love letters from my boyfriend in the Navy, and secret-notes-folded-up-into-triangles-from-my-best-girlfriends. To prove my hoarding testimony, I found those notes recently in a box in the attic. Some are actually blog-worthy.
The desk went on to be used by my son, Anthony, and it held similar things like paper and crayons, coloring books, rocks and stuff, and action figures.
My daughter, Allie Rose, took it over at one point and kept similar items minus the action figures. It then was donated to Herkimer High School as a prop in Allie’s junior year. And I forgot about that old desk after that.
She reclaimed it and brought it to her dad’s house sometime between graduation and college and it took on a life of its own there, any claim I held to it gone forever. Or so I thought.
Last year it came to my attention that my old desk needed a home, and like a stray puppy or kitten, it found its way back into my life in time for the holidays.
This most recent January it became the altar for my mother in law, who passed away from COVID.
Now, with me moving my work office upstairs, I needed a desk for my Janina Grey office downstairs. We were ready to shop when I remembered my old childhood friend turned altar for mom-in-law.
And this is where we are at today.
So now, with first and second coats on the old desk, I’m up in the attic painting trim and listening to Zeppelin, as my mom scolds me for not putting newspaper down to catch paint splatters. She’s also correcting me to paint in one direction and use a smaller brush in certain areas.
My response, “Thanks, Mom. For teaching me how to paint, wallpaper, and repurpose.”
Not only does it keep me close to mom, but it brings new life to old memories. And it’s a great form of therapy as well.
I’ve got to get back to painting! Look for pics of the new office once the trim is done!
To all the women out there who birthed babies, who adopted babies, who married babies, who raised other mom’s babies, who had and lost their mom or still has a living mom today, who didn’t want babies but still is a loving, compassionate, nurturing person, and is no doubt playing mom to someone.
To all the moms of furbabies, especially my daughter Allie Rose who is now mom to my Sweet Meade; Jo, who is mom to her and my son’s furbaby (my granddog) Miso, and Holly, who is the adoptive mom to my Loki, who we had to give away due to health issues I incurred.
To all the men out there who sometimes have to play mom because they are raising kids as a single dad. Who had a mom and lost her, or who have a mom still living today.
Happy Mother’s Day.
I’d like to think of this day as a celebration of Mother Energy.
The mother I’d most like to recognize and honor is my mom, Joanne Jones, who passed away in 2012. She taught me how to be nurturing, yet strong; respectful yet assertive; loving of others, but of myself as well. She taught me what it meant to sacrifice as a mom, and what it meant to celebrate as a mom.
Most of all, she loved me unconditionally. And I miss her. Very much.
My grandma, Evaughn Jones, turns 96 next month, and she is everything I want to be at that age. She’s funny, and untiring, and doesn’t give up for nothing. She is resilient and loving and I see where my mom got her energy from.
My husband, David, lost his mom in January, to COVID, so we will celebrate her memory tomorrow, along with my own mom. She must have been a great mom, because she raised an amazing son. I wish I’d had a chance to know her when she was younger and healthy.
So here is to Joanne Jones (my mom) and Lauretta Ruth Babcock Phillips (my mother in law) and my Grandma, Evaughn Jones, who I’m thankful for having in my life after all these years.
Strong, loving women, who I hold close in my heart. Thank you for all the love your brought into the world.
Many people celebrate Beltane on May Day (The First of May). But today, May 5, is the actual cross-quarter day also known as Bealtaine (Pronounced: beh-yowl-thin-eh). This day is the halfway mark between the Spring Equinox (March 20) and Summer Solstice (June 20).
It’s also a significant day for two characters who have come to life in the second Earth and Sky Series book, LIFE IS FOR LIVING: Barefoot Dan and Lilac Locks.
But… in order to get to know Dan and Jayde (Lilac Locks) you first have to meet Brooke and Josh, which you can do by pre-ordering LOVE IN THE FOREST, set for a release date of June 2.
As a big THANK YOU to you when you PRE-ORDER LOVE IN THE FOREST, I will send you an exclusive, hot and steamy, behind the scenes SNEAK PEEK at how Dan and Jayde first met. This is only available through me and will not be offered anywhere else.
Also, as part of the promotion of my latest SOUL MATE PUBLISHING romance novel, LOVE IN THE FOREST, I’m holding a Scavenger Hunt contest to run from Bealtaine through Mabon, when the print copies of LOVE IN THE FOREST will be available.
One of the items you will need to complete The Wild (Scavenger) Hunt is a copy of your Pre-Order Purchase of LOVE IN THE FOREST. Once you pre-order LOVE IN THE FOREST, email me your proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will enter you into the drawing.
More details to follow on the The Wild Hunt to be released later today!
I can’t wait for you to read LOVE IN THE FOREST. You are going to absolutely adore Brooke and Josh as they guide each other along their unexpected journey of healing and growth. You’ll meet all the other Earth and Sky staffers and campers as they journey together embracing transformation, healing, and love.
These are exciting times and I want you to be a part of this amazing journey I’m on!
Not only is my second romance up for Pre-Sale with a release date of June 2, but we’ve got fun ways to celebrate this exciting occasion.
In addition to getting to read a great Adirondack Mountains love story about Brooke Meadows and Josh Quinn, you get to meet the Earth and Sky team who will be telling their own stories down the road.
You’ll also get a free THANK YOU gift from me, and a chance to enter an upcoming contest to win a unique Nurtured by Nature Designs piece of jewelry based off a scene from LOVE IN THE FOREST.
So, pre-order your copy of LOVE IN THE FOREST today, send a copy of your confirmation to email@example.com and I will send you a free gift. You will also be on your way to securing your place in a raffle that will be drawn after LOVE IN THE FOREST goes to print, later this summer!
Annnnnnd … If you haven’t read my first Soul Mate Publishing romance TEN BUCKS AND A WISH yet, check it out. If you order from me I will send you an autographed hard copy and a free thank you gift and an entry into the contest.
If you order it from AMAZON (print/digital) and send the confirmation or copy of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org you will get a free thank you gift from me and another entry into the upcoming raffle to win the Nurtured by Nature signature LOVE IN THE FOREST piece of jewelry.
Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming release of LOVE IN THE FOREST and exciting ways to celebrate with me and win jewelry from Nurtured by Nature Designs!
Welcome to Bicolandia! A region located in the Southern part of the Philippines. This blog is dedicated to anything and everything we love about Bicol. Let me tell you about the things that I find interesting in my side of the world.