Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Making friends…extraordinary ones

If you have been following my Tahilla Farm days at Collage of Life you will know that I have a fondness for naming animals. I feel a kinship to some animals and often bestow a name, the first name that comes to mind. We have "Priscilla" the Porcupine and her baby "Pia", two turkeys…"Thelma and Louise" and have recently brought two others into the fold, one I call "Stupid"  and the other one…"Harold".

Let me tell you about "Stupid"…the woodchuck. I call him "Stupid" because that is what I call myself every time I see another plant in my garden chewed to bits. "Stupid" because I had a heart and did not call Mr. Critterman to  trap him and move him onto yonder pastures as I have done with others. "Stupid" because I gave him a second chance and a third chance and he knows it…and he flaunts it as if to say…"You silly woman…don't you know that is what people do in these parts?" "Serves you right and I am going to chew all your lettuce leaves just to prove it." BTW…" If you think you will ever be able to catch me…forget about it!".."Stupid"

I really should have wised up when "Stupids" family went to work on creating a tunnel under our granite steps last summer and managed to create a sinkhole in the process. We trapped several woodchucks and moved them on…except we were never able to catch mother woodchuck. I have to be honest..the use of smoke bombs has crossed my mind. You think crazy thoughts when you start to call yourself and a woodchuck…"Stupid". ;)

But..then another friend came along and gave me faith, 
a hawk who glides effortlessly, weaving in and out of the trees around Tahilla Farm. 
He is truly special and I think he deserves a name he can be proud of.
I call him "Harold".

Because…I think he looks like a "Harold". I thought of "Harry" (Hawk)…but
he really feels like a "Harold" to me. What do you think?

He just has that way about him.

Some might say that when one gets around to naming the animals 
on her property it is time to move on. 
That will come soon enough… 
but in the meantime…I am just going to enjoy them all. 

They are a delight….even "Stupid".

Extraordinary friends in and around our home, Tahilla Farm,  in New Hamphsire.

But then again….
I have a few friends waiting back in Vietnam..
of the more colourful variety… here.

Extraordinary friends waiting for me at our home, Chateau Mango, in Vietnam.

Best wishes to one and all for a wonderful week.
I hope it is filled with extraordinary surprises.

Jeanne xx

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

If you live in New England…..and love gardens

If you live in New England
and love gardens...
there is something pretty special 
happening in our corner of the world.
I think you will love it!

 2014 Open Day Program for the 
is finally here.


On Saturday, August 23rd 
in Francestown and Peterborough, New Hampshire,
Six beautiful private gardens will be open to the public,
 including the garden below of my blogging pal,

I do not want to give too much away because you really need to "experience"
the garden at Juniper Hill Farm….it is one of my favourites.

Juniper Hill Farm, New Hampshire
Photo: Joe Valentine

Juniper Hill Farm, New Hampshire
Photo: Joe Valentine
Juniper Hill Farm, New Hampshire
Photo: Joe Valentine

Juniper Hill Farm, New Hampshire
Photo: Joe Valentine

To top off the day…you can attend a lecture
and book signing by garden writer Tovah Martin, entitled
It will be held on Saturday, August 23 at 7:00pm at Bass Hall
at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, 
19 Grove Street, Peterborough, New Hampshire


Consider it a garden weekend
for on Sunday, August 24, five enchanting
private gardens in Bellows Falls, Westminster West, Hartland,
Springfield and Windsor, Vermont will be open to the public. Details here.

In addition to all this, Broken Arrow Nursery will feature a plant sale
at Juniper Hill Farm in Francestown, New Hampshire on Saturday
and again on Sunday, August 24th at Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden in
Westminster West, Vermont.

I wrote about a visit to Gordon and Mary Hayward's garden last year…here
I took the photos below last summer. It is a very special place.

Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden
Photo: Jeanne Henriques
Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden
Photo: Jeanne Henriques

Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden
Photo: Jeanne Henriques
Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden
Photo: Jeanne Henriques

I do not want to give to much away because you really need to wander
each garden to fully appreciate the hard work
the owners put into the planning and care of their gardens.
It will be well worth it, I promise!

You can read more about the individual gardens below:

Saturday, August 23

Peterborough, New Hampshire 

Francestown, New Hampshire 

Sunday, August 24

Windsor, Vermont

Springfield, Vermont

Hartland, Vermont

West Westminster, Vermont

Bellows Falls, Vermont

Admission to each garden is $5.00, 
payable in cash or check at each location.

Hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In the woods…the light of being

I caught it the way you do when you reach out to catch the string of a balloon before it escapes your grasp and you give yourself a high five for still being quick enough to catch it.  I caught that corner of my mind that gets clouded with words, ideas and emotions, the corner that you sometimes need to retreat to when life gets topsy turvy…and it all happened in the woods at The MacDowell Colony on Sunday.

For those of you unfamiliar with The MacDowell Colony, it is the oldest artists' colony in the United States. Founded in 1907 by Edward MacDowell, a composer and Marian MacDowell, a pianist, both artists wanted a peaceful place to create and to be able to share their special retreat with fellow artists. Their search started in 1896 with the purchase of a farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Fast forward 118 years and their mission, to provide a place for artists to work peacefully and harmoniously amongst their peers...is thriving. Over 6000 artists have walked through and around the pines, flora and fauna on this 45 acre property where artist studios sit quietly in the landscape.

Their are only 32 studios and as you might imagine, this is a prized and highly sought after experience with an application process that rivals admission to Harvard. (So, I have been told). I believe it..who wouldn't want to experience the greatest depth of their creativity at The MacDowell Colony, when notable artists such as Leonard Bernstein, Thornton Wilder, Milton Avery, Alice Walker and Alice Sebold and many more have done the same.

I have to be honest, I had not heard of The MacDowell Colony before life at Tahilla Farm. When I stacked up the pros and cons for purchasing a farmhouse at the end of a country road in a town I had never heard of before…in the woods..well, let's just say, the story behind The MacDowell Colony helped to tip the balance. A country retreat..in the woods, down the hill and up the hill and around the corner from the oldest artist colony in America? Let's just say it was a moment of clarity.

Back to Sunday...when I attended Medal Day, the one and only day when the colony is open to the public. It is also the day when The MacDowell Colony recognises an individual artist who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field with the Edward MacDowell Medal. Last year it was the composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, this year it was Betye Saar, a visual artist, and true hunter and gatherer, one who creates beautiful collages and assemblages of  collected objects often found at flea markets. When Betye mentioned in her acceptance speech that she has lived through 89 revolutions of the sun I smiled…and when she said "I feel this medal says for me, 'You go, girl'"…I joined everyone else in the standing ovation of this remarkable woman. I get the impression their is no stopping Betye…at any age.

about the unknown
has no boundaries,
symbols, images, places and cultures merge.
time slips away.
The stars, the cards, the mystic vigil
may hold the answers.
By shifting the point of view
an inner spirit is released.
Free to Create

Betye Saar

After the ceremony, the crowd of over 1000 dispersed from the under a white tent for a picnic lunch on the beautiful grounds of the property. After lunch, a three hour allotted time period was allowed to walk into the woods to discover and meet the current artists in their studios.

And this is where I caught 
the light of being...
in the woods of The MacDowell Colony
where life happens in..

 a studio

on a bicycle

and a simple porch.

The porch is where artists are able 
to take their passion to the next level.

If the ideas are slow to flow…
they can sit and think about it

                                                         and consider their next project

In the woods one can find solitude

with a mountain

 The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire 
is where artists are given the space

to contemplate and create

where white pines stand tall

and a library window awaits

It was here, standing on this porch where I caught
my proverbial string..when that corner of my mind cleared 
and I realised I was back in control again.

It was all so simple..
Edward and Marian MacDowell 
experienced it all those years ago…
in the light and shadow of the woods,
in the sway of a rocking chair on a porch...
you can find the light of your own being.
You just have to be open to it.

Thank you for letting me share this occasion with you. 
I chose black and white, in an attempt 
to let light and shadow speak for itself.
I hope it worked.

To learn more about The MacDowell Colony
…click on the links below

Michele Mattei, Betye Saar, 2012;
Image © Michele Mattei


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