Moody Ditch

O, my ditch, my beautiful ditch, late winter to full on spring.

Fiddling Fool

I almost lost my tomatoes due to meddlement because I am a fiddling fool who cannot stop fussing and tweaking and picking at things that do better when left mostly alone. Seeds in soil know how to grow, but I am the gardener who shouts, “Grow!” and then proceeds to burn the seedlings with fertilizer….

The Old Walk Home

(This reflection was originally aired on MTPR’s Reflections West in 2015.) When I was in grade school I used to walk home backward so I could keep my eyes fixed on my section of the Rockies called the Rattlesnake. I don’t know what it was I thought I wouldn’t see if I turned away, but I…


Somewhere along the way, I became infested with the need to have the right things–nice things, new things–which are always more expensive, but not necessarily better than no things or old ones. My grandmother was a tough, unsentimental woman from Butte, and she gave me the postwar toys my mother played with when she was…

Memories of my small girl, not in order

She filled her mouth with gravel because she liked the taste. She caught tadpoles in a jar, put in sticks and moss and murky water and saved them for me to look at when I got home, and then we walked to the stream together to set it all free. She lined up her hundreds…


What is it about a cottonwood in spring covered in dry leaves that didn’t fall in autumn when it froze? Why, when the wind blows through, do I stop and listen, and why is that rattle so specific, so unlike any other dry leaf on any other tree? It’s loud, but gentle. Instrumental. Percussive. Hollow….

One Ripe Tomato

I’m afraid of this, as I am of many things. First, I think of the work. Then, the possibility of failure. I know the routine. Pour the soil into a bucket and get it to take water. When it holds, scoop it into pots and decide how many seeds of each thing to plant. But…

Soil, Paper, and Patience

Gardening, while pleasurable in itself, is a means to an end, while writing is often an end it itself, and finishing a project feels like putting the garden to bed without putting any food by.

Hunger Moon

I don’t know what I’ll do today. Not exactly, but it will have something in common with this restless season, restless because we’re still chained to winter, because we don’t know the exact moment the ground will thaw.

That February Feeling

This morning, as I was walking to work, I heard something distinctly springy: birdsongs that were not house sparrows, our perpetual feathered companions. I thought they might have been warblers, scouting the cottonwoods along the banks of the Clark Fork.