The highlight of May was a two-week trip to Denmark! My grandfather came to America from Denmark in 1889, and I was able to meet his brother’s grandchildren, and see the places I have heard about for so many years.
I loved the light, and the colors of many of the buildings–warm yellows and oranges.
We saw the place where Danish fishermen smuggled Jewish Danes to Sweden during World War II, as Lois Lowry depicts in Number the Stars.
I met Bodil Bredsdorff, a Danish children’s author I love.
We visited the Hans Christian Andersen birthplace and museum.
We saw ancient stone circles and burial mounds, beautiful churches, wild and beautiful seacoasts, and carefully tended gardens.
Denmark is a beautiful country!
June 13, 2011
A baltimore oriole came to our backyard today. They seem to show up about once a year, often during the time the cherries are ripe. I suppose the birds can be forgiven for thinking the two cherry trees are giant birdfeeders. They always save a few for us.
May 10, 2011
First shoots of milkweed ready to welcome the monarchs.
Crabapple tree in full, beautiful, bloom.
A single purple flower I planted and forgot about popping out to surprise me.
Lilacs offering their “almost out” fragrance.
White Crown Sparrows at the feeders–probably migrating through, they’ve been here for about ten days.
DIAMOND WILLOW out in paperback today (published by Square Fish).
And: HIDDEN here at last, finding its readers.
Happy May 10th!
March 10, 2011
Allen County Public Library has done a very nice
10-minute interview about my writing process, how I work with editors, etc. At the end, I read the first few pages of HIDDEN.
They hope this will be the first in a series of author interviews that they can have in the library and put online.
March 1, 2011
A bluebird–a pair of them, in fact–has been visiting our back yard this past week or so. I’ve been putting out food they like, and a birdbath, and a bluebird house. Unfortunately the sparrows think the bluebird house is a sparrow house, and they are territorial, so I don’t have high hopes for the bluebirds to nest in our birdhouse. But maybe they’ll keep coming here for food.
I saw a downy woodpecker yesterday too–a female, no red on her head. Such a sweet little bird, very bright black and white.
January 19, 2011
Very exciting news! Ivy Tech Community College is sponsoring a Community Reads event based on Keesha’s House which includes scholarships up to $1000 for creative responses to Keesha’s House.
On March 31, Lisa Tsetse and Ketu Oladuwa will join me in presenting an arts workshop at Ivy Tech from 2-4 pm, followed by a reading and discussion from 7-9 that evening.
When you’ve heard a door
and the wind is dying down
and the road is longer
than it should be, longer
than you thought it would be
and no one can tell you
how much farther on
the window in the welcome place
look for a circle
where grass is pressed
into the ground, where it hasn’t
sprung back up yet–look
for the places where the animals
have slept. Rest is recent,
rest is possible again.
Close your eyes and nestle
into sleep, into love.
December 1, 2010
Melvin John NIkolai, 1974-2010
I will never forget Johnny Nikolai. He was seven years old when I first moved to Telida, Alaska. I was his teacher from 1981-1984, and he taught me more than I taught him.
Johnny’s ears were sharp and he always knew exactly what he was hearing; he could tell how far away an airplane was, and interpret the sound of sticks breaking in the woods. He could read the movement of the river and the stories told by animal tracks, which meant he could catch more fish and snare more rabbits than most people three times his age.
Reading words on a page didn’t come quite so easily to him, and after I tried all the things I had learned in my education courses, I finally thought to ask Johnny if he knew why reading was hard for him. He looked at me with a surprised expression and said, “When I need to know how to read, I’ll learn.” (I talked this over with his mother and she said, “I’ll stop telling him what’s in the soup cans.”)
Likewise in math, Johnny was often two or three steps ahead of me. Once we were doing a math exercise to learn patterns. Using stamp pads and rolls of adding machine tape, the idea was to stamp repeating patterns such as: dinosaur, dinosaur, fox; dinosaur, dinosaur, fox; dinosaur, dinosaur, fox. I looked at Johnny’s tape and thought he was just having fun stamping randomly–his tape was about fifteen feet long, and I could see no pattern. Until he pointed it out to me–something like: dinosaur, fox, daisy, shoe, sun, moon, star; dinosaur, dinosaur, fox, fox, daisy, daisy, shoe, shoe, sun, sun, moon, moon, star, star; dinosaur, dinosaur, dinosaur, fox, fox, fox…etc. See if you can figure it out faster than I did.
Johnny could be full of mischief, but he could also be kind-hearted and thoughtful, patient and attentive. I feel lucky to have known him.
September 30, 2010
I’ve raised a black swallowtail butterfly from an egg I saw a butterfly lay on queen anne’s lace in my backyard on September 20, and today it made its first flight!
September 27th, 2010
Candlewick will publish Step Gently Out, a picture book collaboration with Rick Lieder. His nature photographs are as magnificent as his other artwork. The book will come out Spring, 2012.
In this corner of my website I post news about books, travel, backyard birds and flowers, maybe a few recipes and photos. It’s interesting to look back through the archived posts from the first ten years on my previous website and see when birds arrive, when I traveled to different places, and how books occasionally change titles.