Wednesday, April 21, 2021


35 and snowing after a day in the 70's. 

This was our surprise this morning:

Well, well. And Larry just put out 4 tomato plants yesterday. He covered them last night with milk jugs so they'll be all right, but what about the more tender plants now coming up? It will get colder tonight, so I'm afraid we're going to lose a few things.

April weather, like March, can be so capricious in these mountains. We've had snow in May in the past, although usually just lasting for a few hours. And if it's 35 here on the hill, it will be at least 5 degrees colder at lower elevations. I sure feel for my neighbors who also have gardens and fruit trees. I also have small tomato and pepper plants in the little greenhouse--we may have to provide some heat for them today and tonight. A lamp would be enough, I think.

The other surprise news: I started training yesterday to work at the Riverbend Antique Mall where I have some booths. I'll basically be backup to the backup to the backup, as there are a few others who fill in when the owner is off. But there have been times when she's been in a crunch, so I will hopefully be able to cover those times. I honestly never thought I'd work in a place where I have to be there at a certain time, but here I am. The good side is that I can work on my own booth in slow times, and bring some items to list on eBay while I'm there too. This is volunteer work--it will be a nice change of pace from time to time, I bet I will hear some good stories too.

Yesterday I took in these two pieces, just finished. We'd sold a small chair and a dresser, so I just filled in the gaps. 

Monday Larry went up our driveway to cut down a big stump, and was surprised to find morel mushrooms growing around it. He'd been hunting for them all over the hills and had found enough for a couple meals but these were right in full view, and we'd almost missed them. He checked our ramp patch too. We planted some wild ones on a cool, dark holler on our place, and have been waiting 10 years for them to spread enough for us to harvest. He got enough for a nice miss of ramps and fried potatoes. If you've never heard of ramps, they're a wild onion/garlic cross that grows only in certain areas of the Appalachians and are considered a spring tonic by mountain people, and a delicacy by chefs in big cities like New York and Philadelphia--I remember a delicious meal in Philly some years ago that featured trout "with ramp". Sounded so funny because they are never called in the singular here. 

And the last surprise is a terribly sad one. My friend and poet Susan Shepherd passed away Monday in the early morning hours. She fought a brave fight, but in the end killer cancer won. Her voice will be so missed; her presence was magical, down-to-earth and yet ethereal at the same time. A medium, seer, poet, writer, actress, and so much more. Her obituary surprised me with all she accomplished in her life; although we were friends as members writing and poetry groups, and with a common interest in ghost stories, I found that I knew little about all the other aspects of her life. She was the inspiration for the ghost walk I lead, as she led such walks for years in Parkersburg, WV. I will miss her smile, her voice, her presence. 

Life and death--so inexricably linked. Small plants growing, while death stalked my friend. This path we walk is no easy one.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


  1. Congrats on your new volunteer venture. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, and am among those who believe her spirit will continue in the hearts and minds of those she shared her wonderful life with. The snow looks like your blackberry winter (what is happening here in the southern Appalachians) is pretty severe. Hope your little plants make it through.

  2. I am so sorry at the loss of your friend.

    We had snow yesterday as well & I just came in from uncovering everything. My peonies may lose some blooms. It's too early to tell. Tonight will be right at freezing so I'll go back & cover my tomatoes but nothing else.

    I've wondered if I could transplant ramps to the Ozarks? We're drier here than where you are but similar. It's probably a pipe dream. We can't grow rhododendron without a great deal of effort so ramps probably wouldn't make it either.


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