A Flickering Dream

October 2013

A year has rolled by since I last wrote. I remember it as a flickering dream – places, people, feelings.

Oct 2013 Yellow stamens


Last fall, Peter and I went to Canmore for the unveiling of one of his public commissions, “Touchstone”.

Oct  2013 Canmore

Oct 2013touchstone



Then, back in New Brunswick, the days grew shorter, the snow fell, the rivers froze. Winter, with its challenges, beauty and celebrations, was upon us.

Oct 2013 house and wreath

Oct 2013 skating

Oct 2013 snowy branches



In January, we went to Sanibel Island, Florida, to visit Peter’s father and connect with family.

oct 2013 Sanibel


I spent the fall, winter and spring grinding out the 2nd and 3rd drafts of a new novel. I was asked to be on the Fiction jury for the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Awards. 230 books to assess – I began reading!

By late spring, I had a break from my own writing while my agent, Jackie Kaiser, worked out a contract with Knopf Canada and my novel went to its editor. So I began my 42nd vegetable garden on the same, ever-richening piece of ground – manuring, tilling, digging, planting.

Oct 2013 garden

Oct 2013 spring garden Oct 2013


Mid-June. We escaped the blackflies – my brother and I, along with our spouses, took my mother to Bermuda for her 90th birthday. That’s her, way younger than her years, holding up a t-shirt given to her by the friendly bar-owner (in pink.) (Our family is hiding behind sunglasses.)

Oct 2013 BDA

Oct 2013 bermuda3



Always on my mind was my dear father, suffering from Alzheimers, being well-cared for by extraordinary nurses and staff in Westview Health Care Center. Here he is in his sun-filled room, with a bird feeder on the window.

Oct 2013


In July, I was invited to go to Ireland to read from The Sea Captain’s Wife at the West Cork Literary Festival. Peter came too. We stayed in lovely Bantry Bay, overlooking the sea.

Oct 2013 Ireland_ Bantry

Mornings were spent roaming the countryside.

Oct 2013 Ireland_ Bantry_Sheepshead 2013 Oct Ireland_ Bantry_Sheepshead

Afternoons and evenings, I gave readings,

2013 Oct Ireland_ Bantry Oct 2013  Ireland_ Bantry

participated on panels, and listened to presentations from authors such as Mary Robinson, Kate Mosse (pictured above) and Anne Enright.


Meanwhile, the gardens flourished. We arrived back home and the harvest began.

2013 Oct squash 2013 Oct applws

In August, I harvested 90 pounds of wild blueberries from our own hills.

2013 Oct blueberries

And made muffins!

2013 Oct


On September 8, 2013, my dearly beloved father, Wendell Davis, passed away peacefully at the age of 92. That’s him, the little one, with his brothers. They are in front of the house I called “Shepton” in The Hatbox Letters.

.Oct 2013 dad and brothers

Much of our family spent the days of his slow, gentle departure camped in his room. We celebrated his life in the Hampton Congregational Church. His great-grandchildren became the 8th generation to sit on the old, butter-smooth pews.

Oct 2013hampton church

Flowers from friends, presence of family, silver-edged clouds and the crickets of September sweetened our sorrow.


I flew straight from my childhood New England home to Ottawa. After a gruelling day, forced to eliminate by hairs’ breadths of excellence, we on the jury determined upon five outstanding books. Only one will receive the Governor’s General Fiction Award: that book will be announced in November.


This week, as the nights are frosty and the gardens are put to bed, my manuscript will arrive covered with editorial notes and I will begin the fourth draft. I’ll keep you posted more frequently as this latest dream resolves itself into a book and nears publication.


So I find myself in an edge season. There is a new space in my life. I go to the phone and realize my father will never again be on the other end. Spring’s promise, however, has been fulfilled. And winter’s peace beckons.


With warmest best wishes,


DSC_1060 Oct 2013 macro shot