Sweet Melodies

We are getting super excited about the long weekend ahead…filled with good friends, great music, camping, cookouts and lots and lots of fun. Hope your holiday weekend is memorable as well!

We’re especially delighted to get to see this gentleman play under the stars on Friday night. Here are two sweet songs: “Cotton Lullaby” and “Choccolocco Two Step” by local artist Tony Yardley.


Shinrin-Yoku This

The green canopy of the back woods is calling our names…for long walks, trail rides, meditation, dog jaunts, chanterelle seeking and more. It’s a real thing, these trees that beckon, and when we get deep among them they fill our minds and bodies with peace. So when we lost 40 (yes, 40), 40-year-old giant Leyland Cypress trees due to the effects of last year’s drought, it nearly broke our hearts. But Mike D’Avanzo, who never backs down from a worthy challenge, immediately got busy chopping down dead trees, hauling out stumps and branches and burning them, and talking to friends, arborists and horticulture experts about replanting options and hardier species. Then we started all over again, ordering 40 baby trees and planting them all over the place. We know it will take years — decades even — for them to reach the heights of their stately predecessors, but we believe it’s our duty to do this for the next generation…much like they were gifted to us when we moved here.

In Japan, shinrin-yoku, also known as “forest therapy,” has been gaining more and more credence here in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal ran an article just last week on “tree therapy” as a way to fight what ails us. Mother Earth News prescribes “forest bathing,” or time spent in green spaces, as a way to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase our immune defense systems. Outside Magazine says this slow-nature movement is a necessity and that, since the age of the Internet, North Americans have become more aggressive, more narcissistic, more distracted, more depressed, and less cognitively nimble. Yikes. We didn’t realize there were so many labels and scientific findings on the subject. All we know is that we simply like walking in the woods. And we plan to spend a lot of time doing just that, “in treatment,” this summer. 🙂

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.

The Garden Gods

On the subject of gardening, there is always much to discuss each year with family, friends, neighbors, even the smart folks at the Co-Op. How to prep the soil? Plant before Easter or before? Why is rainwater better for the vegetables than county water? And the weeds, oh geesh, who’s gonna tackle those every day?

We’re still learning, of course — and I’m not convinced there aren’t divine forces at play when it comes to how a garden will grow. Here’s hoping our good behavior this year will help make the garden gods shine down favorably upon us and our little patch of country dirt.

Happy Gardening! And please feel free to share any secrets to your own backyard garden successes…


From the first summer we moved in, a few old toads have come to hang out each night by (and sometimes in) the pool. Not all have survived us. Dogs got one, cats got another. And someone ran over a big one with the car. But these stoic toads keep coming back every summer — probably to catch bugs under the outside floodlights. Mike even bought them a little house.

Last summer, a young man from our town took this visiting toad experience to a whole new level…creating custom hats for one patient, and obviously fashion-forward, amphibian, in order to help cheer up a child who had lost his pet toad. He only shared the photos just recently, and they spread like wildfire overnight. Since posting, over 1 million curious folks have clicked to see the toad millinery. Read all about the Toad and his Hats on BuzzFeed.


Horse Xing

Our country road just got a little bit sweeter, thanks to the county and neighbors who helped us put up these signs. 🙂