Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Outdoor Office

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



Jannine Gallant said...

Loved your video interview, Chris. Your yard is beautiful. My favorite outdoor space is the woods around my home. I hike in them every day with my dog, and it never fails to clear my head and give me new ideas.

Colleen Connally said...

What an awesome video! You have such a TV personality. Great in front of a camera. Love your backyard. I don't think I could ever dress up as one of my characters. Loved the pearls!

Laura Breck said...

Christine, how wonderful that you've created your own backyard oasis. It's beautiful. And an awesome video, too. It's really great to get to know you.

J L said...

Your yard is lovely! I extensively landscaped my previous home and I'm looking forward to a new landscape here, once I get settled and can take stock of what's available.

Brenda Whiteside said...

What a wonderful spot to have as an outdoor office. I love my back yard also (although it's only mine for two more weeks). Hopefully I can create another one as lovely at our next stop. But I love the wildlife you've purposefully attracted.

Alison Henderson said...

Your yard is gorgeous, Chris. I've tried to do something similar, but the climate in Minnesota is even a bit more challenging. We had our first Northern Flicker stop by a couple of years ago and I had to pull out my field guide. I'd never seen such a remarkable bird in my life and had no idea what it was. We also have seed sacks covered with goldfinches. And the roses - even here in the north I wouldn't be without my pink roses. Congrats on your writing success, and so glad to have you as part of the Roses of Prose!

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Christine,
I also live in New England and enjoy the summer outdoors. My favorite place is my porch where I look over the valley.

glenys said...

What a lovely garden, and such a special place for wildlife, which is something we all need to think about these days. Your outdoor office sounds wonderful - mine is on the patio, or the gazebo when the biting bugs are feeling mean :-( I'm in Eastern Ontario, where we really have to make the most of the outdoors! Lovely to 'meet' you, and look forward to reading more.

Andrea said...

I love to sit in my backyard in the quiet of the early morning and sip my coffee. I get my head on straight and usually do my writing in the mornings -- when my fibromyalgia hasn't clogged up my brain. Wonderful pictures, Chris. Great post.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

We have woodpeckers in our development, too. Lots of butterflies and, of course, the deer that meander through our yard, nibble at my flowers and clomp across the road to other yards. I don't spend as much time outside as I should, I suppose. But the nirvana you describe is lovely. Enjoyed your post very much.

Christine DePetrillo said...

Thanks, ladies. I'd forego my house and live outside if I didn't think mosquitoes would chew me up. Just came back from the woods of Vermont where I fell asleep to the sound of coyotes.

Margaret Tanner said...

Wow Chris,
Can I come and stay at your place? It sounds like a little piece of paradise.