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Moving, Guiding, and Gardening Ponderings

June 17, 2020


Moving, Guiding, and Gardening Ponderings


By Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Yes, dear reader, I moved from Wisconsin to Michigan–in the midst of the COVID 19 Era. Are you thinking of moving? My advice is think a second time. Are you still thinking of moving? I say, “Think again.” To most of us, moving is not fun; with the complications of our world today, moving is more stressful than ever. This move was the tenth of my lifetime; and by far, it has been more complicated, frustrating, and stressful than the prior nine moves put together. Could this rating be due to the fact that I had lived in Milwaukee for nearly twenty-nine years? Could this level of moving dislike be due to my silver age? Should I blame my vocation as a teacher (retired) and my avocation as a writer for my having accumulated so much during the past twenty-nine years? Should I blame COVID 19 for the low classification of this move? Well, I will respond with “all of the above–a, b, c, and d.” Fortunately, the place where Willow and I landed is such a pretty and peaceful place. Now, to move on to another topic.


The question which I am most frequently asked is: “Do you have all of your boxes unpacked yet?” I have perceived that this question comes only from individuals who have not moved in the past three years. If someone has moved more recently, the person fully understands that I have not yet unpacked all of the nearly 200 boxes–some packed by the movers and some packed by me. My Leader Dog Willow takes priority. Our walking together and learning new routes are of the utmost importance. I want my British Black Labrador to be a very happy, physically fit, guide dog who will ever maintain her high level of guiding skills. If Willow and I have good walks, the day is a good one–or an outstanding one. Our new life style is so very different: I do want her to be at the height of canine contentment. Through the various stages of our moving, what a “good dog” my Willow has been! (Perhaps, Willow will agree to be a guest blogger for WORDWALK in a week or two so that you can hear her point of view.)


During the past four weeks, the weather has been so especially nice that staying inside to unpack boxes certainly did not seem like a wise decision. Enjoying our front porch and visits with our new neighbors (through social distancing) on our geranium-bedecked, four-pillared front porch has been a much better choice than more unpacking. (You may know that this “night owl” frequently gets a “second wind” and does a fair amount of unpacking late at night.)


Recently, when someone has asked me if I have unpacked all of my boxes yet, I, instead, encourage the interrogator to ask me about my garden. Indeed, I would much rather talk about my large round container of red geraniums which have a few graceful and tall spikes growing over the clusters of flowers, buds, and the velvet leaves. Then, between two other pillars is my large rectangular container with rosy pink geraniums flanked by two different types of vines, one with small white flowers and one without, of undetermined name. On the café table on my front porch are two containers of white geraniums with pink centers, beside which rests my “Garden Angel.”


On the south side of my “prairie cottage” and to the west of our sunroom is our cement patio and “dog relief area” (made of pea gravel and timbers). Currently, in this area of full sun, I have only a lavender plant, a rosemary plant, and–thanks to a very thoughtful friend–a container of lilies-of-the-valley (of the silk variety). Of course, I have the lilies-of-the-valley because these lovely, delicate, and fragrant flowers with their arching green leaves grew on the east side of my Blanford, Indiana home. I love having the rosemary because this plant also reminds me of my Hoosier hometown: when I was much younger, all relatives and many friends had number three tubs filled with bountiful rosemary plants–an herb used to flavor a variety of foods. Do you, like I, love the taste and fragrance of rosemary?


This year is the first in decades that I have no basil plant. Actually, I typically have two basil plants growing to be “basil trees” by this time of year. How I do miss my basil plants! However, by the time I arrived in Michigan and was ready to begin my container garden, not even a sickly basil plant was to be found. Consequently, I am just enjoying thoroughly what flowers and plants I do have this most unusual year and am thankful for their giving me another reason to be outdoors during the warm and wonderful weather with a myriad of birds (especially the mourning doves) providing background music, along with the nearby carillon and the friendly greetings of neighbors.


POST-SCRIPT: Due to the timing of my move and the happily greater number of gardeners during this COVID Era, my container garden does not include as many containers nor as much variety as in previous years. In each past year, I tried to add at least one new plant to my container garden; this year, the only new addition is the previously mentioned vines. Nevertheless, I am thinking of planting the inner cardboard tube of an empty paper towel roll with the hope that it will grow paper towels! Also, when last week I discovered that not a single box of graham crackers of any variety remained on the shelves of a nearby supermarket, I thought that I should try to order some graham cracker seeds so that I could grow a “Graham Cracker Tree.” Surely, you have heard of a “Graham Cracker Tree.”


Best wishes for a happy and healthy summer!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


June 17, 2020, Wednesday



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  1. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Dear Alice–Good that you could share some of the “dark” side of your move, but even better that you could share the descriptions of your container garden and your new neighborhood so those of us who are even farther away from you than before can envision your new surroundings. Those boxes will still be there this winter (and if it will make you feel better, we have had boxes packed with books and sheet music in our attic from our move here 30 years ago). Glad that as always Willow’s well-being is your #1 concern, and hope you both continue to enjoy your new neighborhood–Sue

    • Sue–Thanks for sharing your wisdom!  With a kind neighbor following us this morning, Willow and I did the 90-minute walk to and from the downtown area for the second time.  On Tuesday, we tried this route for the first time with a longtime friend who lives about 45 minutes from us.  Willow was ready for a change-of-pace after already four weeks of only walking in this neighborhood.

          Very early on Monday morning, I was finally able to enter my new e-mail address into the Word Press system so that I can happily respond to comments on my blog. I have been amazed at how much is tied into one’s e-mail address.

      More soon!

      Enjoy your garden and summer on the farm!

      Alice and Willow

  2. joanmyles permalink

    Love hearing about your garden and knowing you and Willow are focusing attention on eahc other, unpacking slowly, letting yourselves soak up the sunshine and birdsong, sending you sweetness and much love, darling Alice *hummingbirds**cooing doves**children embracing*

    • Joan–Special thanks for your comment and the “like” on this post!  Also, I especially like your choice of the cooing dove emoji.

      More soon!

      Warm summer wishes–Alice and Willow

  3. Dear Alice,
    Thank you for the detailed descriptions of life in your Prairie Cottage! I certainly enjoyed my time there with you and Willow. We kept busy with unpacking the boxes, walking around the neighborhood, and enjoying the spring flowers. The weather could not have been lovelier, nor the neighbors friendlier. I hope you and Willow will soon feel completely “at home” In your new neighborhood.
    Best Wishes for your and Willow’s happiness—with a few graham crackers thrown in:)
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–Thanks for the graham-cracker wishes and much more!  Wish we could send you our hot and sunny weather so that you and your grandchildren could enjoy more swimming!

      Talk with you soon–A & W

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