It's looking like a banner year where Bill's pecan trees are concerned. When we moved to Meadow Knoll in 1986, he began grafting on native pecan stock planted here and there by squirrels, floods, and other random acts of a kind and generous nature. In other words, it's not an orderly orchard, with the trees in careful rows, but a lovely disorder of trees growing in all the best places. He grafted scions (graftwood cut from the previous season's growth of a productive tree) of different pecan cultivars: Choctaw, Desirable, Kiowa, Dobie.
They usually bear in alternate years, but our five-year drought has confused them and they've been out of sync. This year, though, the trees are loaded. The squirrels are already watching attentively, but Bill has fashioned "squirrel excluders" out of sheet metal and fastened them around the trunks, hoping to cut down on predation. We don't mind feeding a few squirrels, but they often don't actually eat the nuts, just tear them down, gnaw a few bites, and move on. Still, there are enough this year to conjure visions of pecan pie, and we're grateful.
Book report. I'm planning to wrap up the 2015 Darling Dahlias mystery this coming week, pretty much on schedule and several weeks ahead of the August 31 deadline. I have another important project to work on and hope to have an announcement about that in a week or so. A hint: it's about A Wilder Rose and it's exciting. Longer term: I'll be working on a memoir with my brother John, and another biographical novel (more later). And then the 2016 China Bayles, the first of a three-book contract. I feel deeply fortunate to be able to look ahead to plenty of good work.
We're saddened this week by the very serious illness of a family friend, Kathy Tucker, who has been especially dear to my children (and to me) for over twenty years. We feel extraordinarily blessed that she came into our lives and shared her generous spirit with us. Update 7.28. Kathy left us last night, but left her love behind.
Reading note: Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. Rumi