I’m off from my regular job during the summer so I get to spend my sunny New England days writing, writing, writing. It is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas pales in comparison to two months of being in The Outdoor Office with my characters.
The Outdoor Office is located in my backyard, which is a National Wildlife Federation-certified backyard habitat. That means that it has four basic features conducive to supporting local wildlife: food, shelter, water, and places to raise young. The yard is not huge by any means. I live in a suburban town where the houses are pretty close to one another, but you’d be amazed at what you can create in a small space. Bird feeders attract everything from cardinals, sparrows, finches and bluejays to my favorite woodpecker, the Northern Flicker. Their music provides a natural soundtrack while I write. It’s fun to watch them splash around in our birdbath too.
Butterfly bushes bring in the Tiger Swallowtails, Monarchs, and dragonflies, who are a sign of a healthy ecosystem. A dry creek bed, rock walls, and wide-leafed plants provide areas for chipmunks, squirrels, moles, and mice to live and play hide and seek. Catmint gets all the neighborhood cats high. I love to look up from my laptop and see cats rolling in the catmint like nothing on Earth would give them more bliss. Makes me want to try it.
We’ve also got fruit-bearing plants, such as blueberry bushes, grapevines, and my absolute favorite—a peach tree. I’ve caught more than one neighbor and a few garbage men stealing the peaches when they are ripe. Can’t say I blame them. I think Eve would have brought Adam over to the Dark Side even quicker if she’d had access to this peach tree.
Tall grasses swoosh in the warm summer breeze. Potted flowers add splashes of color amongst the green. A wooden swing and Adirondack chairs built by my husband offer places to get lost in a book. And when the neighbors’ kids aren’t screaming their heads off, this yard is the perfect place to write a romance novel. A natural energy permeates up through each blade of grass. A golden hug of sunshine offers support from above, and all around me, life thrives. I feel connected to it all. My mind is clear, my heart is open, and the words flow onto the page. I love it out here.
And yes, I do grow roses.
To see some of my habitat, watch this video interview one of my publishers did. The backdrop is my yard.
Where’s your favorite outdoor space? What do you like to do there?
For some stories that include some fun outdoor spaces, visit me at www.christinedepetrillo.weebly.com.