While sipping a hot cup of Earl Grey tea, I lament the voluminous uproar of leaf blowers clearing the sidewalks and lawn in the small community in which I live. I, for one, would love the opportunity to walk through the leaves, listening to their crunch, collecting those that speak to me of peace, passion, and the spirit of days gone by. The trees have been covered in the brilliant colors that October in Virginia brings. Red Maples, especially, have been aglow in brilliant scarlet, orange, and yellow. 

The peak of this autumn magic is near.  Soon we’ll be left with the dark silhouettes of naked trees against the steel grey of winter skies, until the return of spring when the sun brings more light and the land begins to warm. 

Fall has always been my favorite season.  As a child I loved diving into the piles of leaves my father raked up and then burned at the curb in front of our house. There were no leaf blowers or huge plastic sacks in which to place the leaves to be trucked away to the dump.

 The whisper of rakes, rather than today’s clamor of blowers, brought peace to my world, along with the pungent smell of leaves burning near where they had fallen.  I knew that snow would soon be coming to cover the land with white fluff.  I would build snowmen with carrot noses. Ice on local ponds would thicken quickly in the cold, making for hours of skating, as I envisioned myself to be an olympic ice dancer.  

In Northern Vermont, years later when I had children of my own, we spent September gathering falls from our orchard of five old apple trees. We piled their fruit into the cider press, squeezing them to make luscious apple cider which we sold to neighbors. We’d put a stash of our own in the freezer to thaw later, drinking it heated with a stick of cinnamon and a slice of orange on frigid winter days.

I raked the leaves from our giant maple tree into a huge pile for Mark and Lisa, who both loved hiding in them with their friends, just as I had when I was small.  We never burned the leaves.  We simply let them rot on the ground under the frequent Halloween snow that would remain on the ground until late March or April. 

This is my seventy-seventh year on our planet. As the noisy squadron of men with their gas consuming devises head to another property to remove more leaves, I mourn the quiet of the “old days.”  I’m beginning to understand my own parent’s displeasure with the changes and the speed of life that is always increasing.  

My own days bring memories of the way things used to be.  But where would we be today without computers, cell phones, the tiny bits of plastic found in the melting ice at the South Pole, or the Roomba I’ve been thinking of buying?  

Way back, in Vermont, besides making apple cider, I raised sheep for their wool, had a vegetable garden that was about an acre in size, and a flock of laying hens. I baked bread in the old, iron wood stove that heated my kitchen in winter, filling my home with the welcome aroma of life well lived.

As I grow older it takes me longer to do the simplest of chores like folding laundry, or vacuuming the floors in my home. It is ironic that I  consider the convenience of robotic gadgets to give me more time to sit, read a good book, write in my journal, take a nice long walk, or simply stare into space. 

I do miss those days. I am still a hippy at heart. But I can no longer do the work that sustained me back then. Instead I fuss over buying a small disk-like gadget that will do the vacuuming for me, and betray the person I still think I am.

There is much about aging that I do love. I can say what I want, look beauty in the face and stick my tongue out at her, and pretend that I’m retired with all the time in the world to do whatever I want. But like the leaves, I know that I too will fall to the ground, becoming something else, in the not too distant future.    

In the meantime, I’ll text my grandkids to ask how to do some tricky things on my computer, take a nap when I feel lazy, and try to figure out why I need a Roomba.


Wishing You and Yours a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

The Now Of My Life


This past week I closed my Facebook home page and promised my followers I would be taking up writing blog posts once again.  For the moment I will be posting here every other week on Wednesdays.  Maybe I’ll decide to write here every week, but for now I’m giving myself some extra space to grow into.  Where any of this goes depends on my pulling my “now” together. I intend to begin changing and rearranging the pieces of my life that I have a tiny bit of control over.

I was encouraged by friends and told by publishing experts that if you write a book, you MUST have a page on Facebook in order to boost your sales.  So I took the plunge.  It was fun at first keeping up with my children and grandlings on a daily basis.  There were friends, other artists and writers I followed that often sent inspiration my way. But for the last couple of years I’ve used any free time I had on Facebook swimming in the toxic pool of politics and losing my connection to our beautiful world.

 The worst of it began in  2016 when the roof blew off my world. I quickly became addicted to watching the constant chaos in Washington, while I got more and more angry, anxious, depressed, and devastated. Watching it all unfold kept my mind off moving and packing and then the obvious unpacking. Then during the Kavanaugh doings, just a few weeks ago, I finally realized that if I didn’t stop, I would spend the rest of my days following and sharing whatever the news of the day was on Facebook, MSNBC, or CNN. 

My anger was at a high point, and I took it out on those around me.  My anxiety was over the top.  I didn’t want to go out much or talk to anyone. I told myself that if I didn’t stop it, my body would shrivel up into an unusable mass of dying cells and I would get crazier and uglier by the minute. Like a drunk whose tired of what alcohol does to her, I decided to close my homepage on Facebook. I will  keep my author page,  posting cheery, interesting posts about writing and creativity.  

Will I miss you?  Of ocurse I will. But there are other ways of staying in touch. You can subscribe to my blog on my home page at, www.joanzrough.com, or by liking my author page of on Facebook. You could also send me an email by by clicking the contact button, again on the home page of my website.

I do have a new writing project that I’m excited about.  I’ll tell you more about it in a future blog post, but for right now, I’m working on getting my daily schedule cleaned up so that I can add at least an hour every day for sitting in front of my computer, filling page after page with words from my heart. 

I believe that spreading positivity and love is the way I can best serve myself and those around me to get through whatever the future holds.  We all knew that there were big changes ahead and that the process of recalibrating our lives would not be pretty. Reconstruction takes time, patience, stamina and strength to move through the complications of reshaping a world gone bad.  I will turn 76 years old next month. I can’t afford to allow myself to OCD on the news that our country failing and is no longer a democracy. 

I’ve learned that by ignoring my here and now, I will miss the season of colorful leaves that are falling all around me as the season changes. I’d miss noticing the confused Magnolia trees, who think it’s spring, and are in their second lovely bloom this year, and of course the last of the hummingbirds coming through as they journey south for the winter. I don’t want to miss out on the laughter of children as Halloween creeps closer, and all of the things that inspire me to keep moving forward with smiles and a delightfully warm heart.

I do have hope for our world,
however, and absolutely will vote in a few short weeks.
I pray you will, too.


What’s Next?

The view from upstairs just a few weeks ago

Today is sunny and gorgeous.  Early this morning the grass was cut. But the weather people are calling for snow on Saturday.  Maybe not a lot, but snow none-the-less. On Monday there could be more white stuff.  This is Virginia for heaven’s sake.  What’s up?

Like the weather, the past year has been a muddle of activity focused on constant change. Time has rushed on, dissapearing into the fabric of life. But there are loose ends everywhere. As soon as I tuck one in, others pop up. I search for a place to anchor each one, but it’s not that simple. There are always loose ends. That is nothing new. There is no controlling where and when they will appear and at times the process of weaving them back in is daunting.  Like housekeeping it’s an endless task. We vacuum the floors, then someone comes in with grass clippings all over their shoes. 

I had thought by now I’d be completely settled into my new home.  In the past moving has always been easy, but this time around it’s been a long, slow process. I’d planned on having my studio up and running by now, but some kind of neurological disorder is causing severe pain in my shoulders especially in my dominant arm on the right.  Sometimes it’s fine, other times I have to stop what I’m doing, ice the pain away, and start again.  

Working on the computer is especially difficult at times and I’ve had to quit in the middle of writing, so my blog posts have been few and far between. The beading project I restarted a few weeks back hasn’t progressed. But this morning I’m feeling quite good. I’m doing what I can and hoping to get this post finished before whichever nerve is giving me problems starts screaming.

That same view today!

Like the weather, my moods have been high and low.  But as every cherry tree and magnolia sends forth new blooms, as they do at this time of year, I open up along with them.  I am visiting local nurseries and choosing pots to plant flowers in. I’ve had a tiny area out front cleared of shrubbery and once spring really arrives, will put in herbs … rosemary, sage, basil, lemon balm, and others.  I’ll load up one of my big, new pots with mint, as it runs wild in the garden and easily takes over.

And the birds … oh so, beautiful. Yesterday tree swallows arrived trying to take over several of the blue bird boxes that the blue birds have already started nesting in.  The gold finches are now brilliantly gold, having shed their dull winter colors.  Every day more arrive adding their voices to the morning song fest.

It’s a promising season.

I’ll not let a bit of snow or cold rain stop me
from continuing to move forward, loose ends and all.
After all, that is what life is.

It is not one big, continually blooming rose garden.
It’s an ever changing landscape filled with peaks and valleys.

Sun, snow, joy, pain, and sorrow are always on the horizon.
What we do with them makes all the difference
in how we live our lives.

Autumn Palette


Bright and early Tomorrow morning, Bill will undergo  complete shoulder replacement surgery. With one knee already done, many friends are calling him “The Bionic Man.” I wrote this poem for him back in 2005, and since it is fall and he’s on my mind as we step into another healing adventure together, I thought I’d share it with you.

Autumn Palette
for Bill

Across the river trees flare
yellow orange gold
the flow of water a painting
awash in late day light
ever changing in intensity
as ruffles of wind eddy the surface
invisible fingers at play

A walk we took years ago
before we became us
in woods of scarlet sugar maples
Vermont air crisp and clear
the lake before us blue shimmering
deep and endless as the sky
we wandered under
projecting our future together
on the white canvas
of a passing cloud

We were young and limber
ready to climb the mountains
flame red in the distance
never imagining this day
you and I burnished by time
settled on a river bank
reflecting in October light


Change Is In The Air


It’s September, that time of year when I breathe deeply and am especially happy that the days ahead will be cooler. The dog wood trees are the first to begin turning their foliage from a verdant green to a rusty red and their berries are ready for picking by hungry birds.

Today when I took my morning walk a strong breeze out of the north began shaking tree limbs and old, dried out yellow leaves at the end of their life span fell all around me.  It was lovely.

Here is a poem I wrote a while back to to honor this special month.


That yellow bus is back
all shiny and clean
beeping ‘round the circle
every morning at eight
then again in afternoon
Monday through Friday

I recall chalk dust days
blue gingham stained with chocolate
climbing trees and jump rope
books whispering dreams

Hours slip away
dropped stitches
in a Christmas sweater
I’ve been knitting for years
return to every fall
rows of raveled days
purled again to perfection