Summer, How I’ve Grown to Love Thee


“It’s gonna be a hot one,” he said as he stepped onto the boat.

I’m not a summer person. What I mean by that is I don’t like the heat (usually).

But I grew to love summer when my kids were young and they played outside all day long, soaking up the summer warmth and fun. I loved it even more when they were school age and teens, when summer meant long vacations, sleeping in (for them), leisurely trips to the beach, long summer car vacations. In short, I loved summer with my kids.

My kids no longer have summer vacations (not long ones anyway, they both work full time)—although they’ve both been to Maine for a taste of summer—and I’m rethinking how I feel about summer, in general… Last winter was the winter from hell. It was colder and snowier than any winter we’ve had in a long time, and now I suddenly find myself a fan of summer. I can’t even seem to mind the heat. And I don’t want it to end.

Yesterday we—and by “we” I of course mean MEH (My Engineer Husband) and I—went to take sunrise photos on the dock at Littlejohn Island (that’s one of the photos I took at the top of the post). As we stood and watched the sun rise, a fisherman walked down to the dock and stood with his gear, waiting. “Mornin’,” he said as he walked by. Across the water, we could hear a boat approach from Chebeague Island. As MEH and I watched, the commercial fishing boat pulled up to the dock and the fisherman got on board.

He looked up at us as he stepped onto the boat and said, “It’s gonna be a hot one.” He smiled and waved as the boat pulled away. He was right.

This summer I’ve found lots to do. I haven’t blogged (here on my blog) for almost two months—the longest break I’ve taken ever from posting a blog. I’ve been doing other things during my summer break…

Writing. I’ve revised one novel (cut over 15,000 words and wrote a new first chapter), and now I’m querying. I’m also 20,000 words into a new novel; it opens with four kids graduating from high school and starting summer vacation. It’s sweeping me away.

Reading. I’ve read a lot of books this summer. I really loved middle grade When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. And Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor—which I just wrote this review about for Great New Books.

Editing. At the beginning of this summer Therese Walsh asked if I’d be an assistant editor for Writer Unboxed. I was honored. I’ve been working for Writer Unboxed, coordinating guest posts, for about a year and a half. I’ve also been blogging there for about three years (how is that possible?). I had two posts there this summer, one about why I’m rethinking my spying ways, and last week, I posted one about my writing rules (and why I have only one).

Watching. MEH and I just finished binge watching Alias, which I loved. I also watched HawthoRNe (not about the famous writer, which is why I started watching in the first place), which I didn’t love. VEEP, which we loved and laughed through, and I strongly recommend. We watched movies. Spy in the theater, which we loved and laughed through, and also strongly recommend. We went to see Paper Towns which I wasn’t crazy about (I read the book, too, also not so crazy about it). And last night we watched The Rewrite on DVD and it was (yes) about writing and was a good movie although not deep in the least.

Gardening. But not enough. The weeds and woods are taking over the garden. And the deer ate most of the beans and a good deal of the Swiss Chard, and about half the potato crop was eaten by some kind of grubs. It’s the way life is as a backyard farmer in Maine. But we still have lots of tomatoes and kale. And we have a lovely volunteer pumpkin (the plant reseeded itself from last year). And we’ve been going to the Portland Farmers’ Market every Saturday where we’ve bought the best blueberries we’ve ever eaten. Summer makes eating local so easy and good.

And that’s what I’ve been doing on my summer vacation, how about you?



Going to the Birds


The Arctic Tern


Summertime is prime bird watching time in Maine. We get the songbirds of the meadows and woodlands, but we also get the water birds. Gulls, terns, waders like Great Blue Herons and Egrets. A lot of birds of prey too. Ospreys and Eagles and hawks, oh my.

I confess I love them all.

Yesterday MEH (My Engineer Husband) and I went for a drive to Wolfe’s Neck Farm (yes it’s as beautiful as it sounds). We saw all kinds of birds. In fact on the mouth of the Little River, where it flows into the bay—on the tidal flat—we saw six Egrets along the river. It was an amazing sight. We took a few photos from afar, but when I got home I looked at them and decided none was close enough nor could be enlarged without looking blurry so I threw them away.

A hawk... I think a Broad Winged (any birders out there want to chime, er, chirp in?)

A hawk… I think a Broad Winged (any birders out there want to chime, er, chirp in?)

This is very uncharacteristic (I have almost 10,000 photos on my computer and another 6,000 on my iPhone, so clearly I rarely trash anything), and I immediately regretted it (well when I decided to write this blog). I wanted to include that distant photo of the six egrets but I didn’t have it anymore. Moral: don’t throw anything away. Better moral: Keep at least one photo of everything. Addendum: buy an external hard drive to store photos.

Anyway, last night we watched A Birder’s Guide to Everything—a sweet coming of age movie about bird watching and life. And today I went bird watching again at the Town Landing in the next town over, the place I go almost everyday. And boy was I glad I went. I immediately saw several small seabirds flitting around, plunging into the water and diving for fish. I knew they were terns, but what I didn’t know until I got home was that I was watching the Arctic Tern.

This gives you an idea of the speed these birds move. I guess they have to in order to cover as much ground as they do!

This gives you an idea of the speed these birds move. I guess they have to in order to cover as much ground as they do!

This is what I learned from the Cornell Bird site: the Arctic Tern has the farthest yearly journey of any bird. It migrates up to 25,000 miles from its Arctic breeding ground to where it winters in Antarctica. I probably could’ve stood on the dock and watched these birds all day. They were as beautiful as they were acrobatic.

Although there's no bird in this photo, it is my favorite of the week. Partly because it's so beautiful, partly because the people in the photo are friends of mine and I know how happy they are while they're out sailing together!

Although there’s no bird in this photo, it is my favorite of the week. Partly because it’s so beautiful, but mostly because the people in the photo are friends of mine and I know how happy they are while they’re out sailing together!

Although none of my photos of the Arctic Tern are that great, I still decided to include them in this post (I learned my lesson with the egrets!), because I guess the Arctic Tern may top my list as my favorite bird this year.  My all-time favorite is still the Hermit Thrush. A songbird, its song is just beautiful. (If you have time, you should follow the link and listen to the “typical voice,” well worth it!)

Are you a bird watcher? What’s your favorite bird? What’s your favorite outdoor activity this summer?



Photos + root canal + hornets = book?

What on earth do multiple hornet stings, bathroom renovation, root canals, and binge TV watching have to do with writing a book? Find out today on my post at Writer Unboxed, “Cooking a Book.”

I also talk about photography. While I’m waiting for my next story to come together in my mind, I’ve been taking lots and lots of photos (which you already know if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram).

Here are a few I’ve taken in the past few days. Hope you’re all having a wonderful summer!


We had a lot of fog lately… this was the day after it lifted



As the fog rolled out…sun rolled in



I love visiting docks in the early morning when the water is glassy



Cousins Island Beach last night (iPhone photo)




“Just Today”


Just this

“Good morning,” he said, smiling, nodding. “Nice day.”

He’s the captain of one of the lobster boats at the town landing one town over. The place I go to take photos almost every day. He’s there, too, getting his lobster boat ready to go out. No matter the weather he goes out—everyday I’m there anyway—yesterday I took a photo of his boat heading out in thick fog.

Today was different. It was bright and sparkling, there was a freshening breeze, and the pea soup from yesterday was…well…a thing of yesterday. I was sitting on a low concrete retaining wall, basking in the sun and taking photos.

After he greeted me—the first time we’ve talked except when I’ve asked him if it was okay to take photos of his boat—I greeted him back. “Good morning. Really nice! I’m just enjoying the warmth…knowing what’s coming.”

He looked like he wasn’t sure what I meant. Did I mean I thought the fog was coming back? Another storm?



I meant winter.

“Wint—” I started.

He cut me off before I could finish. “You don’t want to do that. Just today. That’s what we have. Just enjoy today.”

I thanked him, we shared a smile, a moment, and he continued on his way to the dock.

It stayed with me, his advice. I tend to be one of those people who wants to know…everything. To not leave anything up to chance. It makes me a little nervous. It’s gotten easier (as I’ve gotten older) to relax into enjoying, just enjoying the day, the sun on my face. And my solo cross-country trip last summer helped me move in the right direction—toward living in the moment—but I needed to hear it this morning.



I’ve got a long to-do list today. It felt like too much this morning before I talked to the boat captain—who I’m sure has just as long or longer a list—but now it feels doable. More enjoyable anyway.

And I may just make a second trip to the water’s edge… and not just today.


The fog blowing out to sea

What about you? Are you like me? Often getting ready for something instead of just enjoying the day? Or are you better at just enjoying today? 



Inspiration as Far as the Eye Can See


Boats as far as the eye can see…

Our house is about five minutes from the coast. If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know that for the first year I was blogging, I posted weekly videos of a nearby town beach on Cousins Island, a small island accessible by bridge. (All those videos are still on youtube!)

I stopped posting those videos (I think the winter did us in—that is, MEH (My Engineer Husband) and me—it was just too cold to stand out there in the bitter wind, week after week.), but I still go someplace on the water almost every day—either to take photos for Instagram or just to enjoy the view and observe the activity and wildlife and sometimes just the smell of the water.

photo 3 copy

A lobsterman rows to his boat

Most mornings these days I’ve been going to the Falmouth Town Landing. What I love about the landing is that it’s home to commercial fishermen in addition to pleasure boats. In fact, it’s one of the largest boat “parking lots” in Maine, with over 1,110 boats at peak season.


Lobster traps on tidal flats (at high tide water will go almost all the way to the old boat house in the background)

I never know what I’ll see when I get there—baby ducks and lots of shore birds, people setting off on their sail boats, lobster boats, someone unloading bait for the day’s fishing, dinghies, dogs swimming in the water, children exploring the tidepools, and lots and lots of boats…and that’s just scraping the surface. This morning was no different.


The captain of the Nicolle Marie readies for a day of lobstering

It was busier than I’d ever seen it. Lobstermen were loading traps onto boats (the tourist season is heating up). I talked to a few of them about their day (and mine…we’ve had a lot of clouds and rain lately and they all commented on what great weather it is for photography).

After an hour at the dock I was (kind of) ready to come home to tackle the writing day… although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there is a part of me that wishes I could stay all day to watch and soak in not just the sun but the flavor of life on the dock. One of these days I just might!

What are some of your favorite places to go for inspiration?



p.s. If you’re on Instagram and want to follow me (or even if you aren’t on Instagram, and you just want to check out my photo gallery) I’m @juliamunroemartin





My Writing Process: blog tour

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“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” Zora Neale Thurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

I’m not sure how, but all of a sudden it’s the beginning of June. It seemed like forever to get here, but now the sun is shining, boats are in the water, the lilacs are in full bloom, and our garden is a weed patch waiting for tending.

Meanwhile, there’s writing to tend to as well, and I’d like to thank my friend Jamie Miles for inviting me to participate in the “My Writing Process” blog tour. With a million things going on, I’m not sure I’d have gotten around to blogging this week at all. So thank you Jamie! If you haven’t visited Jamie’s wonderful blog, you should go take a look—she’s one of my favorites: lots of humor and life observations and full of heart. Well worth the read!

What are you working on?

I’m finishing up the ninth draft of my latest novel—I call it near-historical fiction coming of age. The seed of the idea came from a real life experience you can read about in another blog post. A teenage girl falls in love with a young man who is about to leave to serve in the Vietnam War, and after he deploys, she learns about and forms ideas about the war based on interactions with four other young men in her life. I wrote the first draft of this novel during NaNoWriMo last year.

I am also working on my next novel idea. It’s about an adrenaline junkie—so I’m challenging my fears by doing some of the things that I’ll write about in the book.

How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?

This is a tough question because most of what I write is cross-genre. I’ve written mystery that has elements of women’s fiction (I self published Desired to Deathas J.M. Maison). I’ve written historical fiction that is combined with magical realism (I’m querying this novel); and my current novel is near-historical fiction (1960s), but it is also coming of age with elements of literary fiction.

Why do you write what you do?

I’m almost always drawn to stories of loss and change and themes of home, probably at least partly because I moved around a lot as a kid. I’m also the product of a broken family: my father walked out when I was only two years old. I often write about family and parental problems that I believe have a profound effect on children for their whole life long. Hence (regardless of their age) many of my characters are trying to figure out how to cope with the hands dealt them in childhood. I also tend to address topics that produce fear for me in my life (for instance writing about an adrenaline junkie or being forced to say good-bye to a friend or lover forever). These explorations help me make sense of my own life, fears, and limitations, while at the same time helping to distract me and make me feel less alone with my problems and fears. My stories also always include at least one love story—I love to write about love and relationships—often the foundation of life’s greatest joys and biggest heartaches.

How does your writing process work?

This is an interesting question because my process seems to be constantly evolving. It used to be that I’d always write a (pretty detailed) outline prior to starting to write. Then with my last WIP, I started writing and wrote about two or three chapters before I even started to outline—then I outlined the entire book. With my current WIP, I didn’t outline at all before I started to write and after I was finished with the first draft, I pulled the entire book apart, outlined it, and restructured it.

The one thing that hasn’t changed in all my outlining and writing process changes is that when I’m writing a first draft, I write every day. I like to write first thing in the morning, but I can write anytime. I think the reason NaNoWriMo worked so well for me is that I usually write fast and hard. During first draft, I’ll write between 1000 and 7000 words a day. I almost always go into “the writer’s zone,” and I barely notice what’s going on around me. When I’m in the zone I can write anywhere. In the past two years, I’ve come to realize that I can force myself into the zone with music related (in my mind only) to the story I’m writing. Ever since then, I’ve created a playlist for every WIP, and for the hour or so leading up to writing I’ll listen to the music, and I also listen to the music (but don’t really hear) while I write.  As I write, I become completely and totally immersed in the world I create.

Next week…

I’ve invited my blogging friend Jackie Cangro to participate in “My Writing Process.” Jackie and I met several years ago via Twitter and/or mutual blogging friends (I can’t remember exactly how)—you know how these things go. I absolutely love Jackie’s posts. She always delivers something entertaining but thought provoking, too, and I love her writing style. I also enjoy hearing stories and updates about her amazing dog Reggie.

What’s up with you this early summer? Writing? Vacationing? I’d love to hear!




The Busy Month of May

I knew May would be busy—and fun—I just didn’t know how busy and how fun. It’s been a month of homecomings, birthday celebrations extraordinaire, new washing machines (yes plural), airports and train stations, long and short road trips, cooking and baking and eating, walks and bird watching. Of laughter and joy, of love, of long and wonderful talks, of some tears.

But writing? May is not a writing month. My WIPs and my blog will still be here in June when my two kids and their respective girlfriend and boyfriend are hard at work on summer internships. When neglected spring weeds are large enough to harvest and ideas simmering in the back of my mind are ready to commit to paper. And when morning routines return to just MEH (My Engineer Husband), the dog, and me. And too much quiet.

May is a month of hellos and goodbyes and much in between.

When I picked my daughter up at the end of the
semester, she took me for a walk in the rose garden
on her college campus. Absolutely gorgeous.
This is where I usually write (in the dining room). Now it holds
the catch-up laundry of two very busy semesters!
These are the cake pops that my son’s girlfriend and
I made together. They are delicious! You can
find the recipe here (yes, they were very easy to
make!): Easy Cake Pops. Take my advice and
don’t forget the styrofoam (like we did)–we improvised.

On Lawn Mowing and Book Titles

This isn’t my neighbor’s lawn mower, it’s just what it sounds like in my head

In a crazy twist, today my concentration is interrupted by a neighbor mowing her lawn….apparently endlessly. Why a crazy twist? Because my last posting was about snow (less than a week ago!), and now we’re into lawn mowing season.

So, instead of revising the last 1000 or so words of my WIP, I find myself nursing a headache, looking desperately for noise-canceling headphones, and thinking up a new title for my book (my working title, soon to be a querying title, is…well… not working).

As I was contemplating and making lists of alternative titles, I came across a very cool website that analyzes a book’s title. In fact it claims to be able to tell you the likelihood a title “has what it takes for bestseller success.”

The program, developed by a statistician, looked at 50 years of New York Times Bestseller novel titles and compared them to less successful titles by the same authors. According to the website, the program is successful in 70% of cases they tried.

Here’s one of the best things about the “LuluTitlescorer”: you need to enter grammar and parts-of-sentence information about your title. Thus you get two things in one: a fun grammar refresher AND a title scorer.

Once you enter the title and all the requested variables, you click on “Analyze My Title,” and voila it tells you the chance between 9% and 83% that your book’s title will fit bestseller success!!

For me, the four I tried were 10%, 26%, 44% and 69%. Pretty decent odds… just one more piece of information as I zero-in on a title. And something for me to think about while I finish the revisions, because—hallelujah—the mowing just stopped!

Here’s the link to the LuluTitlescorer! If you try it, I’d love to know how your title(s) fare… so come back and tell me!



Picture Perfect (Video) Day on the Coast of Maine

(Sunday, November 6, 2011, 11:30 a.m. EST, 50 degrees F)

Incredible. To have this weather in November is spectacular. The view from the overlook was phenomenal today. And it was a little surreal to watch the two Great Danes on the beach. (I truly thought they were ponies as we pulled into the parking lot!) An absolutely stunning day that words cannot do justice.

Meanwhile in the garden… we are clearing up the garden beds, going through a rushed fall clean up following last weekend’s surprise snowstorm. Almost every trace of the snow is gone now so today we’re tidying up: raking beds and some leaves, planting some daffodils, putting up a new mailbox (our old one was rusted through), mowing down the mint, pulling carrots, and putting away trellises, bean poles, etc., etc. Later today I’ll make a big pot of chili that we can eat for several meals this week, and then I’ll get some editing done on the WIP while MEH (My Engineer Husband) writes code to display graph overlays on a scientific instrument.

Here’s what the perennial bed looked like in July, what seems like yesterday!
This is how the perennial flower bed looked after we finished cleaning it up.
(That really WAS yesterday!) Later today we’ll plant Daffodil bulbs in this flower bed!

Late Summer Wading on the Coast of Maine

Saturday, September 17, 2011, 12:46 p.m. EST, 65 degrees F

I could have called this post “Waiting” instead of “Wading” because right off camera there was a crowd of about 20 people obviously waiting for something or someone. They were all looking over the water into the distance, scanning the horizon.

The air was sharply cooler this week, and last night we had some light frost. It was only 37 degrees (F) when we went on our dog walk this morning….brrrr. A shock to the system and a harbinger of things to come.

Meanwhile in the garden….we still have tomatoes, green beans, and (hopefully) another crop of potatoes, if we can beat the heavy frost. The zinnias are providing a last blast of color.



Bee-ing the Writer

Do you have trouble concentrating on writing in the summer like I do? There’s a lot going on, no question. For me, summertime means spending a lot of time in the garden. Growing fruits and vegetables and flowers.

And along with all that growing goes pollination: bees, beetles, all kinds of other insects, birds and sometimes even mammals.

Bee on Oregano flower
This week I started watching the pollinators—especially the bees—and it occurred to me I could learn a thing or two from them about beeing buzzzy (sorry can’t resist). They are industrious all day long, buzzing from flower to flower, feeding on nectar and collecting pollen.
As a writer, I wish I spent as much energy on my writing as those bees do on pollination. Buzzing around my WIP as though it were a garden, honing in on each individual idea like a new flower—and collecting as much from one before moving on to the next. Then cross-pollinating my ideas with new thoughts picked up at my last stop. Working all the time, industrious and focused.

Wasp on Dill flower
Next time I’m having trouble concentrating, I think I’ll try to “bee the bee.”

Do you have trouble concentrating on writing in the summertime, like I do? What are your distractions? And what can you learn from them that you can apply to your writing process?


Summertime and the Writing is…?

Once you have kids, summer changes the life of an at-home writer. During the school year, your time and where you spend it is more manageable, more your own. But during the summer, your writing schedule is often dictated by your kids and their activities. And over the years I’ve found that it really doesn’t matter how old my kids are—summer still brings change.

When they were young it meant more trips to the beach, more driving to activities, lazier mornings followed by long days in the sun, barbecues with friends (mine), always having company but rarely finding time for myself. With teens it means car sharing, late (much too late) nights, staying up late to worry (a lot), washing filthy clothes from lawn mowing and landscaping jobs, long days at the beach with friends (not so much mom), and barbecues with friends (theirs). Now they’re in college it means joyful homecomings followed by working out new-found independence, serious internships/jobs balanced with (even more) car sharing, and (if you’re lucky like I am) staying up late (much too late) to watch old Nancy Drew, Reaper, Lie to Me, Samantha Who? and of course movies on Netflix.

What never has changed is the balancing (mine) of working at home while spending as much time as I can with my kids. Because no matter how old they get, one of the best perks of being an at-home writer is the time with my kids. So, as always, being flexible is key. Whereas during the school year, my time is pretty much my own (except for the wonderful interruptions of text messages, emails and phone calls), come summer (happily) not so much.

With this in mind, I’ve boiled my summer writing tools down to these essential and portable items:

My laptop. Instead of being at my desk or at the kitchen table, you are much more likely to find me with my laptop on the couch, at the dining room table, in a coffee shop, or at the library. That’s because the kitchen table is often home to a college student’s work, laptop, books, friends, life, etc.

A camera. This has become more and more essential to my blog, and I rarely leave the house without it anymore.  Especially in the summer, when I don’t know what bird, moose (or other animal), flower or building (or other thing) I might see. In short, I always want it with me.

My iPhone. Now that I’m on the go a lot more of the time, I am even happier that I got an iPhone. I can check my email and/or keep up with my kids via texting (because texts are the new phone calls), in a pinch use it as a camera, and of course tweet and read blogs and use the voice recorder or take notes on it.)

A small notebook. I always have one of these with me (even during the school year), but I find I use it a lot more often when I’m on the road or waiting in the car or a passenger in the car when one of my kids is driving.

My new mug. A few months ago I wrote a blog about my favorite mug getting broken. Well, I’m happy to report that I now have a new mug! MOD (My Outstanding Daughter) went to a local clay painting studio and painted one of their mugs for me! In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that we went together to pick out the right mug for her to paint (she’d read my blog and was concerned that she couldn’t possibly live up to my “guidelines.”). The result, I think you’ll agree, is so much more than I ever could have hoped for! And it is now my favorite summer accessory!

How does summer change your writing schedule? What are your essential summer writing tools?


In Celebration of Season

This week marked the beginning of Spring. And, in celebration, today’s Wednesday Word is season. As with many words, season can function as either a noun or a verb, depending on the definition you are using, and what you are trying to say.

(1) season: One of the four natural divisions of the year—Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter—in the North and South Temperate zones. Each season, beginning astronomically at an equinox or solstice, is characterized by specific meteorological or climatic conditions. American Heritage Dictionary via

Here in Maine, it still feels a lot like winter. Granted, the temperatures are warming, birds are returning, and the snow is receding. We no longer have perilously high snow banks on every corner, that just last month created hazardous driving conditions—but we’ve had snow fall twice this week. And if you comment to a neighbor about the warming weather, they are likely to issue a standard Maine response:

“Don’t get used to it.”

Too early to garden, but not too early to dream, that packet of arugula seeds is still on my kitchen windowsill. And before long, they will be planted in my vegetable garden. By early summer, we will eat tender arugula, tossed with fresh tiny green onions and balsamic vinegar. And then winter will be a distant memory.

All summer long we’ll harvest vegetables: spinach and lettuce, beets and kale, beans and tomatoes. Finally, as the days shorten and autumn begins, we will enjoy pumpkins, squash, and hopefully a melon. A bounty will remain for us to can and freeze—before the season changes again.

And, that we can get used to.

(2) season (verb): To make or become mature or experienced. – Collins English Dictionary via

I have been blogging now for seven weeks—every day of each week—45 consecutive postings. Although still a newbie, I am becoming a more mature blogger, I’m finding my legs. As I read and watch others around me, I am gaining more understanding and knowledge of this new world I’ve entered. I no longer stress out at the thought of writing a daily blog; I actually enjoy and look forward to it! And as I learn and change as a blogger, my blog site is maturing and changing too—which brings me to the third definition of season.

(3) season (verb): To improve or enhance flavor; to add zest, piquancy, or interest to. – American Heritage Dictionary via

In honor of this definition of season, I am adding zest to my blog with some changes to its appearance. The photos in the heading represent each of the seasons—but also the natural beauty of everyday things that inspire me and my writing. I hope you will let me know what you think—the heading, my blog, and my writing continue as works in progress.



p.s. Are there ways that the changing seasons inspire you? Where are you in your blogging journey? How have you seasoned as a blogger—and what landmarks or seasons can you identify along the way? And, please let me know what you think of the new wordsxo appearance and contents. How am I doing?