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Poetry in the garden

by HL Carpenter

Image source: HL Carpenter

Years ago, a line from The Village Blacksmith sparked thoughts of creating a garden retreat. What does a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about a village smithy have to do with a garden? The first words—”Under a spreading chestnut-tree“— created an image we found hard to resist.

Our garden had shrubs and flowers. Benches to sit on. A gurgling fountain. Yet none of those was a favorite spot.

We wanted a chestnut tree.

Unfortunately, almost all chestnuts were killed by a blight in the early 1900s—and even if any were alive, they would have a difficult time growing in our part of the sunshine state.

Was there an alternative? Yes. Photos from an earlier era showed a similarity between chestnut trees and sycamore trees.

A fully-grown sycamore, crowned with a fifty-foot canopy, would provide a leafy retreat from the heat of summer. Comfortable chairs would offer a place to sit and sip frosty lemonade. When fall faded to winter and leaves drifted to the lawn, sunshine filtering through bare branches would warm the coldest day. The tree’s broad trunk could block the north wind and shield us from the buzz and roar of a busy highway.

We bought a tall sapling after being assured it would soon grow into a huge tree. As you can see by the picture, that assurance came true—and so did our vision for the garden.

Our sycamore serves as an open-air porch. The canopy offers dappled shade in the summer. Bluebirds, cardinals, and wrens chirp and twitter among the branches. A crow visits and caws for a cracker. Squirrels scamper up and down the solid trunk. In autumn, crispy gold leaves carpet the lawn and crackle underfoot. Our tree-porch is a wonderful place to sit and read.

And write.

The other day a relative stopped by and remarked about our beautiful shade tree. We told him of the poem that sparked our imagination.

“Have you read all the stanzas of The Village Blacksmith?” he asked. ” ‘The smith, a mighty man is he, with large and sinewy hands‘ describes one of our ancestors.”

Who knew?

Now, while sitting under the shade of our sycamore tree in our favorite garden spot, we have another story to write.

About the Writers/Gardeners

Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit HLCarpenter.com to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

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Murder by the Books

By HL Carpenter

A letter from beyond the grave brings accountant Fae Childers face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing.
But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She’s lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She’s running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

 You can pick up HL Carpenter’s Cozy Mystery Murder by the Books to read in your garden retreat at Amazon.