A Good Home, Twigs in My Hair - A Gardening Memoir

The Story Behind the Story

I remember the day when CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers and her colleagues Jacqueline and Erin came to interview me at our old farmhouse on the northern edge of Toronto.

It was summer 2014 and a day like the one pictured on the cover of Twigs in My Hair

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My first book, A Good Home, had been recently published, and I, who had interviewed hundreds of people on television, was terrified. Of forgetting, of stuttering, of other painful things resulting from a car accident.

Wise woman that she is, Shelagh asked me to stroll with her around the gardens before the interview.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Shelagh and Cynthia in Garden

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Garden

My friend Marilyn Mirabelli prepared tea for everyone. “Everything goes better with a cup of tea,” she said, trying to calm my anxiety.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Ladies

The interview complete, we sat outside and enjoyed ourselves. Marilyn regaled us with stories about the history of the afternoon tea tradition in Britain. We heard names like Queen Victoria and Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea pink cup and saucer

I remember the tea party, but almost nothing of the interview.

Much later, I remembered this:  Shelagh asked if I was writing a sequel.  I said I was terrified of writing a sequel because I’d have to revisit my journals — and that was too painful.

No way. I’d come too far to go back.

Blog Photo - Cynthia Reyes on The Next Chapter

Instead, I said, I was working on something fun — a gardening book! It was, in fact, almost complete.

But life went and did what life does.

Something unexpected happened. It led to the writing of An Honest House, the sequel I had dreaded.

Book cover - An-Honest-House

It went on to win an award and much critical acclaim for its raw honesty. But writing it traumatized me. The gardening book was shelved and forgotten.

Now, five years after I first wrote that gardening memoir, I look at the cover and feel a bunch of differing emotions.

  • Surprise. That we (Hamlin and I) and Mother Nature created such a beautiful garden.
  • Gratitude. That God graced us — my husband in particular – with ideas and  stamina to care for it. Hamlin built those garden beds and created the garden structures by himself.
  • Delight. That the book is finally published.
  • Satisfaction. That Hamlin’s photos and my story reflect a real life. Many images are gorgeous, but because the book is a memoir, we chose photos of real gardens and a real family. No staged or airbrushed photos here!

TWIGS -3D Cover Black BG

I see memories everywhere in this book cover. Most are good, a few are painful, and all in their own way, are precious. 

Almost every object you see has meaning for us.

Look closely at the boxwood semi-circle behind the round garden bed.

Twigs in My Hair - Photo of Arbour and boxwood circle and veggie garden to right

Now look at the biggest of the boxwoods, given to us in the 1980’s by a revered gardening teacher, Donald Moore. You’ll meet him – and the boxwood — when you read Twigs in My Hair.

Of course, I should apologize to Shelagh Rogers for misleading her, and for the book being years late. But hey! We finally got it done!

 

 

 

A Good Home, Gardening, Gardening and Nature book, Gardening Photographs, Twigs in My Hair - A Gardening Memoir

Great News

Two lovely things just happened:

Twigs in My Hair, my new gardening memoir — with beautiful pictures by Hamlin Grange — hit the  Number 1 spot for New Releases in its category when it was released on amazon.com yesterday.

My great thanks to everyone who is buying the book!  You made this happen!

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And author-musician Kevin Cooper has just released a conversation-interview he and I had lately. It’s fun and I enjoyed every moment of it. Thank you, Kevin!

https://authorkevincooper.com/2019/08/31/an-interview-with-cynthia-reyes/

Wishing you a lovely weekend, whether it’s late summer or early spring wherever you are.

Cynthia.

A Good Home, Canadian Village Life, Villages

Two Days in Creemore

I’m a country girl. Born in the country, raised in the country, I love country villages and rural areas.

So I was glad to visit the village of Creemore, northwest of Toronto, last weekend. My husband, younger daughter, son-in-law, pet chug Julius and I stayed in a small farmhouse owned by friends of our older daughter.

Blog Photo - Creemore Luaren at the farm

Blog Photo - Creemore Julius at the farm

Blog Photo - Creemore Dan and Julius inside farmhouse kitchen

We were surrounded by farmers’ fields, woods, birdsong, flowers, crickets and spectacular views.

It was also the weekend of the vintage festival and the village was dressed up for the event.

Blog Photo - Creemore bicycle with flowers

Blog Photo - Creemore signs

Blog Photo - Creemore vintage fashion show

Blog Photo - Creemore singers and radio booth

Blog Photo - Creemore church st lukes

Blog Photo - Creemore father and son on street

Blog Photo - Creemore woman takes photo on street

We walked along Creemore’s main street, stopping to make small purchases in the stalls and stores or to eat and drink. Creemore’s beer is deservedly famous.

Blog Photo - Creemore four

Blog Photo - Creemore springs Brewery copper vat

At Chez Michel restaurant, the food was excellent and the staff attentive and friendly. 

Blog Photo - Creemore Group Photo at Chez Michel

 In fact, everyone we met was friendly. We chatted with many people and — as you can see, above, we were happily photo-bombed by some!

Blog Photo - Bakery and Cafe

Blog Photo - Creemore brakery sign about unattended children

Creemore has that homey feeling that I associate with my favourite villages and small towns. (And yes, that’s really a cup-and-saucer chandelier below.)

Blog Photo - Creemore bakery chandelier with cups

Blog Photo - Creemore friends meet in bakery

Blog Photo - Creemore sign in bakery - WIFI

But like most rural villages, Creemore needs outside support to thrive. Events like the vintage festival attract visitors and locals alike.

Blog Photo - Creemore Vintage Festival sign

Outsiders who have fallen in love with Creemore also help by building/buying houses there and spreading the word among their networks. 

Blog Photo - Creemore sign things to do

Well-known interior designer Sarah Richardson and her husband are among the influencers who are big Creemore supporters.  Sarah, one of HGTV’s stars, renovated a home in the village for her TV series, and she and her husband recently built and moved into an “off the grid” house in Creemore — also televised.

Blog Photo - Creemore girl on fountain statue

When it comes to helping our villages survive and thrive, every bit helps.

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Thanks to Hamlin Grange and Dan Leca for the beautiful photos.

A Good Home, Amaryllis in Bloom, An Honest House, Architectural Conservancy, Architecture, Architecture and Design, Authors, Bond Head Harbour, Country Homes, Family Stories, Heritage Homes, Historic Bond Head, historic neighborhoods, Homes

This, That and The Ebor

 

There’s this: a crop of summer-blooming Amaryllis, a huge flower that normally blooms in winter — unless you’re like me and forgot the bulbs in the cold room until recently….Blog Photo Red Amaryllis2

Blog Photo Amaryllis Red and White

Then there’s this darling photo of Mr. D. and Mr. JC. 

Blog Photos JC and Dawson

Then – for a change of pace – these two vintage cars….

Blog Photo Ebor House doors open 16 jpgEH

In front of my favorite 17-room mansion, Ebor House…

You may remember that time I got lost and ended up sipping tea in a stranger’s kitchen in his beautiful old mansion…. 

Ebor House was built in 1868 by the Farncombs, a remarkable English-Canadian family which counted two Lord Mayors of London, England, as close relatives.

Blog Photo Doors Open Ebor House

Well, there I was at Ebor House again last Saturday, and this time, for a very different reason.

Ebor House was a highlight of Doors Open Clarington.  The architectural conservancy event features many beautiful heritage buildings in Clarington. And I was the author guest, invited to speak about my books, share my knowledge of Ebor House and also the Farncombs’ history.

Blog Photo Farncomb Legresley

While I was in one room, “Farnie”, great-grandson of the Farncombs, was in another room, charming visitors with tales of growing up at Ebor House. He inspired me to keep going: his energy was so radiant! 

Well over a thousand visitors — including a few cyclists- visited Ebor House. 

Blog Photo Doors Open Cynthia

It was a lovely day.

The volunteers (including Leo Blindenbach, who was in charge of the Ebor House site) were organized and gracious — as were the owners, Andrea and Nav.

Thanks to MaryAnn Isbister, whose excellent work turned my 6-part blog series on Ebor House into a full colour booklet for the event. Organizers Bernice Norton, Marilyn Morawetz, Leo and the rest of the team should be very proud! 

Bravo, all of you!