Posted by: jeannineatkins | July 15, 2013

Ways of Butterflies

The garden in front of the porch where I sit is woefully neglected. The pink petals of echinacea, where an orange butterfly lands, are the only bright spots amid a sprawl of foliage from spring blooms gone by. In mid July, I’m reminded of the need to think of this month during planting season. My blog has been neglected, too, which makes me think of the wisdom of some friends who thought ahead to declare summer blog breaks. But I’ve been writing, mostly in the guise of pulling together my book about writing and trying not to get intimidated by the self publishing process as I stare at fractions and equations to contend with as I decide on page sizes and margins and a host of things that can go wrong. But there will be a book, which I try to keep in mind.

The details of bookmaking are like getting swept up in conversations about roofs, wells, furnaces, deeds and such, as Peter and I are in the process of buying a second home in southern Maine. There’s a lot of detail work, so that sometimes I forget the end idea is to have a house where we can look out at the ocean.


Two orange butterflies just danced over the tangle of iris and star-flower stalks. I’ve got my daughter and an extra dog in the house for the evening. The cat has tucked himself up against my computer, lying still in the heat.  Life at its best is still here, going on amidst the plans. Every day I’m trying to add a little poetry to my time spent with rulers, reports, and how-to guides. And driving by orange day lilies. We have the moment and we have plans. The butterflies twist around each other, flying higher.



  1. I’ve been away from my friends’ blogs this summer, and this post was a beautiful way to dip my toe back in the pond. Self-publishing a writing book! So exciting! New home with view of ocean! So wonderful! Family at home with you as you watch the flowers and butterflies! Delightful!

    I want to adopt this outlook: “Every day I’m trying to add a little poetry to my time…”

    Happy Belated Birthday, Jeannine. I remembered in the middle of the night when it was already today. I hope the coming year brings much good stuff.

  2. Thanks for such a bouquet of sweet wishes, Tracy! And I’m honored you thought of me in the middle of the night!

  3. So glad for your good news, Jeannine. And for the reminder that much good news comes with (or after) an awful lot of hard work – something I’m reminded of daily as I work to whittle things down here at my house.

    Lovely writing, lovely post. Hope you have a lovely day, too!

    • Thanks, Kelly. Best wishes to you, too. Hope all is going well with Ms. M’s plans for Mass.

  4. So glad to hear the book is coming together, Jeannine! And wow and yay on the house by the ocean in Maine! And best of all is that daughter home for the night…

    • It’s great having Em in the same state! I was there yesterday to help unpack and then we went to the MFA., then back home again. No airplanes involved. Hope you’re finding time for the garden and summery things amid deadlines.

  5. Somehow this lovely post reminds me of a Rumi poem that I love so much called the Guest House. For some reason, I feel moved to share it with you today so I hope you don’t mind if I post it here. Thinking of you, Jeannine. xoxo

    From Essential Rumi
    by Coleman Barks

    The Guest House

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    As an unexpected visitor.

    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.

    The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
    meet them at the door laughing,
    and invite them in.

    Be grateful for whoever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

  6. Lorraine, I’ve been thinking of you often on the porch, so it’s lovely that you show up now, and bring Rumi. You are both the guests I would choose, though indeed I do my best to welcome all. Thank you for stopping by, and sending good wishes for a summer I hope you’re finding full of goodness.

  7. “There will be a book…”

    Yes, oh yes. The garden works its own magic, as the butterfly soars.

    • Hoping butterflies and hummingbirds are working magic in your garden. And “there will be a book” comes from your hand soon, too. We are waiting, patient but eager.

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