There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Winter Garden

"Half the interest of a garden is the
 constant exercise of the imagination."
 ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, 
'Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden', 1897

One of the best things about keeping chickens (other than gathering beautiful, fresh eggs) is that it gets me outside and into our garden every day--even on the worst winter day. Our Burford Brown hens love company and they love their time roaming free in the garden. Miss Havisham and Lady Catherine de Bourgh free-range in a large pen that takes up a good third of our garden--but of course they prefer the other side of the fence to their own. That grass is much, much greener and tastes so much nicer.

"My garden is full of friends."
~Elizabeth von Arnim
'Elizabeth and Her German Garden'

Our garden in the height of summer, 2015.
If I let the girls out into the rest of the garden without keeping an eye on them, my beds and flowers become a mixed salad in no time, so I've taken to spending at least an hour out with them every day. They like the company and I love the solitude, the time with our "Lewis Tree", the time dreaming about our spring and summer garden.

is a hundreds-year-old black walnut tree that has
protected status and stands watch over our garden
and everything around it. I started calling it the
Lewis tree because when C.S. Lewis first came to
Oxford, he lived at No. 1 Mansfield Rd. just on the
other side of the tree. He looked out onto Oxford
and the tree from his little garrett room and 
remarked in a letter to a friend about the
 magnificence of it all. Like Lewis, I look out and up
 into this tree and find a comforting peace, 
watching it's web of branches sway against the sky.

The Lewis Tree several days ago, 
as the sun set over Oxford.

“We need time to dream, time to remember, 
and time to reach the infinite. Time to be.”
~Gladys Taber

Sometimes I just sit and dream, imagining how my lavender will smell in July or wondering which rose will bloom first. Other times I read and sometimes I garden, since even in January a garden needs tending. As I dream or read or prune, the girls are always close by doing their own bit of winter clean-up.

There are days that Jack joins me in our garden as well, which also coincides with the days I don't get to sit and dream--he's too busy and too puppy-ish still for that nonsense. With Jack, it's play or go home!

With his fresh haircut, Jack still needs to wear his
little Barbour coat when we go out. The
winter garden is full of good things to chew on.

"I know I left it somewhere around here last October!"

After playtime and a bit of digging, it's time to 
buckle down and start helping mummy.

“Perhaps, after all, our best thoughts come
 when we are alone. It is good to listen, not
 to voices but to the wind blowing, to the
 brook running cool over polished stones,
 to bees drowsy with the weight of pollen.
 If we attend to the music of the earth, 
we reach serenity. And then, in some 
unexplained way, we share it with others.”
~Gladys Taber

Harris Manchester College from our garden.
So much of my day and my time is not my own--waiting for guests to arrive, as well as the myriad of things I do caring for guests in our home. But my garden-time is the time where I can "attend to the music of the earth" well as to the needs of two chickens and a puppy, some roses and some lavender, and me. The more beauty we can breathe in, the more graceful paths we can walk, the more serenity we can touch--then perhaps the more grace and beauty and serenity can spread in the world around us. Hopefully spread like a catching force in a world that sorely needs it.              
With the Lewis Tree bare of it's leaves, I can see
straight through to the clock tower of 
Harris Manchester College. It tolls the hour and
lets me know when it's time to go in for tea.

New College as the sun sets.
It's time to take the two little brown eggs
on the table and go in for tea--
Earl Grey of course.

"In the garden I tend to drop my
 thoughts here and there.
 To the flowers I whisper the secrets
 I keep and the hopes I breathe.
 I know they are there to eavesdrop
 for the angels."



  1. I love seeing your hens, Carrie, and what a special time to sit in your garden and dream. Good for you! And of course we always love to see Jack!! It looks like his fur is beginning to grow a bit!! Thanks again for sharing! Jane xo

    1. Wee Jack's hair is growing in more, but he still gets very chilly at times, so we have to make an extra effort to keep him warm. The girls are happy and thriving and such good layers--even through the darkest days of winter. Thank YOU for stopping by as always. xxoo Carrie