Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gardening with Deer - A Metaphor for Life

Life is a long string of challenges. Sometimes it's more like a braid than a string. 

Three months ago I spent thousands of dollars to have the yard at our new house planted with a wide variety of drought tolerant, deer resistant plants. Drought is a way of life in Monterey County, and our water bills are frightening, so choosing drought tolerant plants was a no-brainer. Deer resistant has been much more challenging. 

I love deer and was excited the first time I saw a family strolling through our yard. That was during construction, and there wasn't much here for them to eat. They looked around then moseyed on over to the next-door-neighbor's yard for dinner. That same neighbor had told me he gave up years ago worrying about what the deer ate. He simply went about his business and let them go about theirs. His yard is thickly planted native trees and shrubs, making it hard to notice the occasional nibble. He warned I would end up hating both gardening and deer if I went to battle against them. 

George is a wise man, so I decided to take his advice. I decided to forgo erecting a tall fence and chose deer-resistant plants instead. I have since learned there's no such thing. If the plants are unfamiliar or have tender, young leaves, the deer will at least try them if they're hungry, or merely curious. Our omnivorous deer have astounded both the landscaper and the owner of the local garden center with what they're willing to eat. Lately I've been told, "I've never heard of deer eating that" more times than I like to say. 

These flowers are an example.

And these.


Fortunately, I was able to enjoy both for a few weeks before the deer discovered them, and all the plants have new buds. If they're willing to try again, so am I. I've learned to enjoy the beauty around me while I have it, without expecting (or trying to force) it to last forever. There's always something new and beautiful around the corner. Like these spectacular Kangaroo Paws. They're from Australia, and the tiny florets look like fuzzy kangaroo paws. So far, the deer have shown no interest in them.

Kangaroo Paws

See the fuzzy, red feet?

And then are are the moments of unexpected delight, like this little volunteer succulent. It sprang from a piece broken off one of the larger plants and dropped, possibly even by a four-footed marauder. 

So far, I'm staying pretty Zen about sharing my garden with the wildlife. I don't know how long that attitude will last, but I'm trying. Hopefully, by the time I'm George's age, I'll just smile and take it all in stride. Gardening, like life, is most satisfying if you can learn to go with the flow. Yesterday around dusk, a doe and two tiny fauns ambled through the back yard without so much as a nibble. Maybe they've called a truce and I just don't know it yet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Latest Cover - An Uncertain Destiny by Jannine Gallant

I'm thrilled to share my latest book cover design project for Jannine Gallant's new historical romance, An Uncertain Destiny. This book, set in 17th century Massachusetts, is a project close to the author's heart, and I'm delighted to have been able to help her bring it to you. This cover is one of my absolute favorites, with its gorgeous, atmospheric background and mysterious young woman in red.

Here's a blurb about the story:

Haunting visions have plagued Megan Pendrake for years, a dire promise of a turbulent future. When Megan and her brother are forced to flee England aboard a ship bound for the colonies, trouble looms. In 1692, Salem, Massachusetts is a hotbed of suspicion and persecution where the mere hint of witchcraft is a death sentence. Remaining in Salem is courting disaster, but Megan’s heart won't allow her to leave the man she has grown to love.

Nicholas Thayer is mesmerized by the beautiful, unconventional young woman who boards his ship posing as a cabin boy. But his future is predetermined, including a fiancĂ©e waiting for him at home. When Megan faces inconceivable peril, Nicholas must make the ultimate choice between family and faith or a love he can’t deny. But will he be able to save them both from An Uncertain Destiny?

You can buy An Uncertain Destiny in Kindle format from Amazon here, and the paperback will be available soon!