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Giving Thanks

November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving gardenAfter several weeks down in the grading pit, I am thankful to be finished with first drafts of student papers and to have climbed out into the light. I still have two more weeks of school this semester (one last week of classes and then final exams), but the hardest work is behind me. I’m hoping to get back to a more regular blogging schedule in the weeks to come.

Two days after I finished the last of the first drafts, I got home to Maine for Thanksgiving. serenity at ThanksgivingWhen I arrived on Tuesday night, it was slowing lightly, with about 1/2 inch of snow on the ground and a coating of white on trees and plants. But when I woke up the next morning, it was raining hard, the temperature was about 50 F, and the snow had disappeared. The rain was followed by another cold front, bringing  unseasonable cold (high temperature here today was in the low 20s).

It was fun to get out in the sunshine yesterday and tour the garden to see what was happening. All the flowers in my garden are gone, of course, but I found this evidence that Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ kept blooming to the bitter end.  And buds on rhododendron are already whispering promises of spring.

frozen herbstsonne rhody bud

At this time of year, when they are not competing with colorful flowers, the pine and hemlock trees seem especially beautiful.


In addition to being thankful that the hardest work of this last heavy teaching semester is behind me, I am also thankful to have this wonderful spot in the Maine woods to come home to. I am looking forward very much to being able to live here full time in just a few short months.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2013 12:17 am

    A friend recently visiting Maine (the owner of my favourite coffee shop café, Olde Towne; her son in law is in the Coast Guard and posted to Maine). She found it breathtakingly beautiful. Sounds like you are closing in on retirement living?

    • November 30, 2013 10:08 pm

      I once road the ferry from Anacortes out to the San Juan Islands, and except for the orcas (which we don’t have here) it felt a lot like being among the islands off the Maine coast. I don’t live along the coast, but inland Maine is beautiful in a quieter way. I always say that if there’s a heaven, it must be like Maine without the blackflies and mosquitoes. 🙂
      I am closing in on retirement — one more semester and then I’m done.

  2. bushbernie permalink
    November 30, 2013 12:41 am

    The end is nigh. How wonderful! Soon you’ll be able to see every season come and go in your beautiful Maine garden. Across the big, big pond, here in Oz, I only have one more week of this school year left. Many, many more years of teaching left to go until retirement though, sigh!

    • November 30, 2013 10:11 pm

      Bernie, I didn’t realize that you are also a teacher; so many of us out here in garden blogland. I guess what teaching and gardening have in common is a love of nurturing living things and watching them grow.
      I am in what would retirement researcher has called the pre-retirement phase of euphoria.

  3. November 30, 2013 6:10 am

    It won’t be long now Jean…just love the trees in your paradise!

    • November 30, 2013 10:15 pm

      Donna, I love the trees here, too. Whenever I look out at woods beyond the back of my house, I think of the opening lines of Wordsworth’s epic poem, Evangeline:
      “This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks.”
      Wordsworth was from this area and his poem is set just across the border in Acadian Canada.

  4. November 30, 2013 7:00 am

    Are you a nature lover as well? Looks like there is lots to explore and enjoy nearby. Happy belated Thanksgiving!

    • November 30, 2013 10:17 pm

      Thanks, Marian. I guess I just assume that all gardeners are nature-lovers. Spending time outdoors is important to my well-being. Favorite activities (besides gardening, of course) are walking, cross-country skiing, and nature photography.

  5. November 30, 2013 7:18 am

    What a giddy time of life! I’m sure there will be many things you’ll miss after this big change but all the things you’ll be able to take advantage of….. Exciting!

    • November 30, 2013 10:19 pm

      Frank, Thanks for visiting. It is a giddy time of life. I have loved my teaching career, but I’m so ready for retirement. No more first drafts of papers and no more 80-hour workweeks!

  6. November 30, 2013 9:42 am

    It sounds idyllic in your Maine woods. You must be so glad to come home to your garden there. I wonder what your native flora is like .

    • November 30, 2013 10:25 pm

      Chloris, I do think of this place as idyllic, and I always feel so blessed when I’m here. For a sampling of (mostly) native flora, see my May 2010 Wildflower Wednesday post. Garden plants that you may grow that are native here include Heuchera, Tiarella and Solidago — and also many varieties of maple (Acer) trees.

  7. November 30, 2013 5:18 pm

    Late Happy Thanksgiving, I like thinking of you at your cozy house in Maine!

  8. November 30, 2013 5:19 pm

    Forgot to add that it is still very cold here, in the 20s at night and the 30s during the day. I don’t think it could be much colder in Maine.

    • November 30, 2013 10:29 pm

      Carolyn, It’s been about 10-15 degrees colder here — low twenties as daytime highs and overnight lows in the single digits. The thermometer on my deck read 0 when i got up this morning. Tonight, though, it’s supposed to stay in the upper teens/low twenties, with highs tomorrow in the upper 30s — downright balmy!

  9. December 1, 2013 12:48 am

    Sounds like you have an ideal retirement spot. When you are weary of papers you can think of those fragrant pines. I’m kind of amazed at the size of those rhododendron buds – don’t they know they have to sit through a whole Maine winter?

    • December 5, 2013 10:50 pm

      Jason, In a little over a week, I will be done with papers and can get home to spend quality time with those fragrant pines.

  10. December 1, 2013 2:45 pm

    Jean, so nice to know you’ve made it through the worst of the fall semester! And that you went home for Th’giving, too. I’m so looking forward to living vicariously when you retire, heh heh. I’d love it if we could get together just once next spring before you head off to Maine permanently. I’d like to take you to Surreybrooke Farms in Middletown, Md., which I know you’d love and I’d love sharing. Awesome nursery/gardens. Please, do keep it in mind?

  11. December 1, 2013 3:05 pm

    A sunny stroll through the Maine woods seems a wonderful complement to a well-deserved Thanksgiving holiday break! I hope you’re able to return to work fully rested and restored to tackle the end of the teaching semester.

    • December 5, 2013 10:52 pm

      Kris, Since it’s hunting season, strolling through the woods isn’t such a good idea. But they’re still pretty to look out at 🙂

  12. December 1, 2013 8:13 pm

    Your woods are lovely, and I can imagine what a refreshing break they are for you. This is a great time of the year to appreciate evergreens. I love hemlocks. This is about as far south as they will successfully grow, and I have two that seem happy enough with my climate. We also recently had temps down into the 20s. Today was in the 50s. Not so different from Maine! :>)

    • December 5, 2013 10:53 pm

      Deb, I think there’s another blast of cold air headed your way. I, too, love hemlocks best. I really wasn’t that aware of them until I bought this property with its pine/hemlock woods.

  13. December 5, 2013 9:33 am

    I love the woods. Here in the UK, I live in the largest national park (Peak District National Park). Your woods look like my woods, Jean. We are both blessed methinks

  14. December 6, 2013 4:01 pm

    A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you Jean. Thanksgiving sounds a most special celebration. Sadly here in the UK ‘Black Friday’ is slowly permeating our culture 😦 I love the thought of those whispering rhododendron buds.

    • December 13, 2013 9:23 pm

      Anna, I am sincerely sorry that we have exported ‘Black Friday’ to the UK; ugh! I try to stay home and participate in “buy nothing day” as a protest against Black Friday (which now begins on “Grey Thursday”), but it feels a lot like paddling upstream.

  15. December 7, 2013 11:12 pm

    Hi Jean – your trees are beautiful. Years ago I added evergreens to my treeless except for one old elm tree yard. They are finally grown…I wish I had added more. Your garden looks like a lovely forest.

    • December 13, 2013 9:34 pm

      Gloria, I always forget that other people plant trees; I’m always trying to dig up new seedlings before they get established. I should send you some white pine seedlings 🙂 they grow quite fast (as I’ve learned from not catching them in the first year).

  16. December 10, 2013 9:15 pm

    Jean, I’m so happy to read that you’ll soon be able to stay ‘home’ full time in your Maine garden. It must be exhausting traveling back and forth.

    I keep having to remind myself that it’s still, technically, fall…not winter! Even we’ve been drifting down into the low 20s over the last couple of weeks. It’s ridiculous that we’ve been so cold, and I’m so looking forward to some more normal winter temperatures for this region. I suspect some of my plants, like the Encelia that was in bloom a week or so ago, will look much like your Rudbeckia by the time Jack Frost moves along! Hope the school year is just about done for you now. Happy holidays!

    • December 13, 2013 9:37 pm

      Clare, It’s not the traveling I find exhausting so much as the grading. I’ll be happy to be done with commenting on first drafts. I’ll be driving up to Maine on Sunday, trying to time it so that I get to each place along my route after the snow has stopped. It looks like I’ll be arriving home to a winter wonderland.

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