There is beauty in everything . . .  MUSICA

What a week!

(Jack says hello too . . .)

 Hurricane Sandy has sort of taken over Halloween for me.  Knowing lives were lost, hearts are broken, homes were swept away, dreams of a lifetime burned, there are millions of people with no electricity, much less all the other problems this storm has caused, makes it sad.  I know we will celebrate tonight, because life goes on, and it’s the right thing to do, I sent my disaster money to the Red Cross, and now, we do have children coming!  Something must be done!

No matter what, to me, every bit of Mother Nature is beautiful; something as small as these dewy webs on the wire fence of our place in California for example, maybe not be beautiful or special to everyone, but to me, with the fog coming through the trees across the fields, I think it’s beautiful, and perfect for the season . . .

Another image I love is this spider, with the green swirls on his back; he’s only a decoration on the door of a shop . . . I couldn’t help but take this picture… the rough paint and the old door knob and key hole are pretty too.

Look at these wonderful little white squashes we saw in a farm stand on our trip around New England. Like little ghosts.  They said Nature’s Halloween to me too . . .

And this little guy . . . on our door step …. pretty little thing, almost like a drawing, his fingers all splayed.

Which is exactly what we will be doing tonight.  We have lots of children coming to the door, expecting candy, candles, and pumpkins, and good adults that make things nice for them, that’s our job.

Our ghost is in the window and ready . . .

Our pumpkins are all carved . . . this little mouse will have to wait until after Halloween for his pumpkin pie.

They say the cream rises to the top, and of course it is true, and the cream is rising from this disaster; brave, everyday heroes are coming forward, neighbors comfort neighbors, faraway neighbors in California and Montana are helping neighbors in New Jersey, we are all in this together, money is flowing in, because this is a wonderful country full of wonderful people.  And as horrible as this was, when you think of other Nature disasters around the world the last few years, it could have actually been even worse.  Especially here on the island.

I almost feel guilty, we are so lucky; for some reason, this hurricane hooked around Cape Cod and let this tiny speck of an island in the Atlantic go by.  This photo was taken out on the walk Joe and I have gone on almost every day since 1990 . . . so very beautiful and special out there, it would break my heart if it disappeared, but of course it could . . .  I call this view “Ireland,” and always say that our walks there are the best part of my day; to me, it’s Mother Nature in perfection.

But so, in a way, is this . . . the same view about five hours before the first high tide came rolling in, over the water, to the trees in all their autumn colors.

Just in case we ever begin to think we are in charge, something like “Sandy” reminds us that  we are no match for Mother Nature.  I still have no idea how they could ever evacuate Martha’s Vineyard if it somehow became necessary.  Would we have to leave our pets and farm animals behind?  No one would go.  The ferry would have to be like Noah’s Ark.

This is the sandy road we walk every day; it’s on a very narrow strip of land . . . I’ve never seen it under water before . . . on the left is the pond, and about 100 feet to the right, is the sound.  We went out to take pictures early on, but we were safe inside when the brunt of the storm came through.

Here’s the sound, and the beach we usually walk on…. before the surge . . .

I was surprised to see so many little boats left to ride out the storm, usually when a hurricane is on the way, all the boats are taken off the water.  This is a view from the Steamship dock in Vineyard Haven.  The strongest image I have of the whole thing is the noise the wind made, howling over the water, and through the trees.

We went to bed that night, feeling small, tattered leaves flying off the trees, flicking at the windows like a ticker tape parade, kitties close, candles near by just in case.  We woke in the morning, going to every window at first light, peeking out to see what happened; relieved to see the trees still standing, that everything was still here.  But, we worried, how was the rest of the coast . . .

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ♥ John Muir

Yesterday afternoon, I was making Chili for the neighborhood Halloween Party we’re having tonight, and went out to take a picture of this view from our porch; blue skies were smiling on me; the whole island had been washed clean.  And this morning, now that the water has receded, as soon as it gets light, we are going out on our walk, to see how it looks out there.

During the storm, our wreath blew off the front door and went tumbling down the street; Jack and I happened to see it go from my studio window . . . Jack’s ears perked up like little soldiers and I ran outside, got blown down the street myself, but I grabbed it and brought it in to dry.  Tonight we’ll put the wreath back on the door, light the pumpkins, and be grateful that we can, and think of our dear neighbors in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York; how tired they must be. We’ll hand out the candy for them; and send prayers from over the water for the rebuilding of their dreams, and in case anyone is reading this,  just so you know,  our hearts are with you. 

Despite everything, this is a beautiful world; a gift from God, this little speck floating out alone in space, our world to protect as best we can and love.  xoxo Take care Girlfriends, Have a happy, healthy, and safe Halloween!

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  1. Kit says:

    So very very glad to hear that your little island did not get hit. I kept telling my husband, “She is on an island out there!”. My family is in New Jersey and I watched the reports all day. Luckily they are inland but it was sad to see photos of Harvey Cedars and Atlantic City. I used to go there as a child. I am hoping help comes soon to all needing it and that by Thanksgiving, all can be back in their homes. Kit

  2. diana says:

    we must give thanks every day when we open our eyes to see what the Creator has made.

  3. Barb says:

    Hello Sue, I am so happy and relieved to know you, Joe, and the cats are all safe.
    My heart goes out to all whom were affected by the terrible storm. Last time I had posted we were moving. We moved from MA to CT. We did the last part of our move Sunday evening just before the storm arrived on Monday. Yet we are happy to say we are both okay and we did not even lose power.

    We too have many friends still without power in CT, WV, other friends in NJ and NY but they are all safe thank the dear lord.

    My husband Jeff was a volunteer firefighter for 28years and he retired as the Chief of the department. He gave of his time so greatly and worked a full time job as well. I learned a lot from my husband. One thing I would like to pass along is about Power Lines: The higher the line, the higher the voltage…and the lower the line the lower the voltage. The higher line is mainly your electric line where the lower lines are your cable and telephone. Please if wires are down anywhere near you …stay away. Even if they fall on your car NEVER get out of the vehicle.
    I wrote this because one of our dear friends had a pole with the wires go down right in front of her home and she was worried about driving around it. Its best to avoid it at all costs.

    As for the Red Cross….they are such a great organization to donate to. They have helped so many people out. I have seem them work first hand in helping especially when my husband was a firefighter. I to volunteered in the late 70’s early 80’s first as an MRT, then as an EMT. Both of us love to help others in any way we can.

    For all those whom were affected by this storm……we are sending a big virtual hug to you all. Never give up…..People do Care.

    Susan……this post was so touching that you shared. You have given a voice, a line of communication for people in the NorthEast and all over the world to be heard.
    Thank you for all you do each and every day. You post makes my heart feel warm and you are the best! Love, Hugs & Smiles Barb in CT

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Barb, for your kind words and your Good Advice — really good to know, don’t get out of your car!!! Great piece of advice. And most of all, thank you for your service. What would the world be like without people like you and your husband? I wouldn’t want to know. So happy to hear you are safe and sound … what a busy week you had! xoxo

  4. Debra V. ~ Southern California says:

    So glad you made it through the storm, when watching the news, I thought you could have been blown over by all that rain, rising ocean and wind. So glad you didn’t have to suffer much, and that the island was spared. Praise the Lord!
    Did you suffer power loss, so many people were without power?

    • sbranch says:

      No, we didn’t even lose our power. When the storm turned towards shore it actually started going further away from us. Until then, it was getting scary, the lights blinked, but that was all. So lucky. Thank you Debra.

  5. Pamela Jo says:

    So glad you and yours weathered the storm, Susan! Today is the first day I’ve been online and have had power since Sandy blew through. We did not have any phone service, land line or cell, until yesterday. Trick-or-Treat was cancelled, schools closed all week, and even my employer was shut down all week. Many are still without power.

    When the storm hit, I began to pray and kept on praying until the sun came up. When I walked outside and looked around my neighborhood I could not believe the damage. I feel so blessed, as not one thing on my property was touched. My neighbor’s 35 ft. pine tree toppled, but missed my house by only 3 feet! I found it right outside my back door! Some buildings in my town were destroyed and must be torn down, others caught on fire…my heart breaks for all of those who lost so much. I just saw the TV coverage of NJ and NY today. It’s so tragic.

    Today, I spent time decorating for Thanksgiving…with an especially thankful spirit. My prayers are with all those who’s lives were impacted by Sandy.

    I’m so relieved to know that you got through the storm. It’s always so uplifting to check in and read your blog. I’m thankful that I’m finally able to be online again!

    Pamela Jo

    • sbranch says:

      How lucky you are Pamela, I’m so happy that you made it through unscathed (or at least on the outside!). Happy to have you back, safe and sound! xoxo

  6. Sherri says:

    Susan, First of all, I share in the relief that you and your family (including kitties, naturally) are all safe and sound. My husband and I are also praying for relief and comfort for all of the people who are in need.
    I had to write and thank you for keeping up posted on Tweet with your condition and the storm in your area. You are indeed a dear friend to think of all of us who were concerned at such a time.
    The longer I follow your blog the more I admire you. Without knowing it, you have helped me through a difficult year. Thank you for adding an element of comfort and an attitude of hope. I enjoyed your time in England so much. I couldn’t help noticing how much of your time was spent working, adding to your blog and writing everything down.
    Anyway, thanks again. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  7. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Just back from Mendocino/Ft Bragg! We commented while looking at the beautiful ocean, how awful that it could come right at us in a terrible storm like on the East Coast. Prayers for the people who lost lives and property! The waves are so mesmerizing, calming, & awesome, when there’s no storm brewing! The ride over to the Coast was gorgeous with the fall leaves here and there and the vineyards were spectacular (I wanted to take pictures & send to you & the GFs immediately!!), green, gold & red! We told our dear friend Erin Dertner (a wonderful artist), about the color & she went the next day to Anderson Valley & painted 3 small pictures! You talented artists are amazing!!! I just took a few pictures! Have a wonderful week everyone. xoxoxo

  8. Juliana - Jackson, NJ says:

    Hi Susan and all the Girlfriends! I am trying to get back to normalcy here in NJ, we were extremely fortunate to have rode out the storm with minimal damage, (not in a flood zone) and only loss of power for several days. Everyone in my family safe and sound. Still have family in Long Island without power, but doing okay. The devastation here is hard to comprehend – for days all we had was what we heard on the radio, but once power was restored, reality set in. The first days out were with mixed emotions, so much destruction, and yet with all the huge, old trees that came down, so very few that actually hit a house! Everyone seemed to be thinking the same thing! It was a small miracle! But of course all along the shores of NJ, NY and Long Island it is a very different story. It’s one thing to see a disaster like this on TV in another part of the country, world and a very other thing to live it. I am only 20 minutes from the beach, so I am surrounded by constant news of what shelters are needing, where to still be able to get gas, which is still a big problem. I never thought I would walk into a large supermarket and not see any fresh food on the shelves! Nothing! People waiting for milk to come as if in a third world country. Well you can wallow in the sadness, or get up and help – so that is what I am doing. And through it all, the sun shines bright – help is coming from seemingly everywhere! We see trucks coming from all over the country to help restore power! People working 16 hour shifts, tirelessly giving of themselves. Strangers handing out hot coffee to police, line workers. People offering there homes to those who are cold, need a shower. Everyone is pulling together to collect supplies to distribute to shelters – truly this has brought so many people together! Little by little life goes on and we will rebuild, stronger and better. Churches are full, so thankful for what we still have. Thank you for posting about the Red Cross, as there is a lot to be helped here. Thank you also for this beautiful post! Made me cry and I had not heard that song in soo long! Wonderful choice! Tomorrow is Halloween here, as declared by our fantastic Governor! We will put out our Jack-O-Lanterns and get our candy ready (was very hard not letting everyone eat it all this time!) and celebrate the little things! (And keep praying!)

  9. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    Dear Sweet Susan,
    I know how busy you are, but Autumn and Summer keep begging for a little sister Spring book and a little brother Winter book. Please tell me they’re on your to-do list.

    And then there’s my request. I actually saw wind when I read your last Willard, and realized what a gift you have for writing. I’m usually so busy concentrating on the wonderful water colors that I forget how beautifully you paint with words as well.

    I’d love to read your book of Vineyard Seasons, a companion to Stillmeadow Seasons. Gladys Taber would be honored and The Girlfriends would be enthralled. And just think, you could actually do it on the computer without worrying about Jack’s spilling your water and dipping in your paints.

    Is any of this a possibility for the future? Please, please, please…………

    • sbranch says:

      Anything is possible! I would love to do all of those books! I’m doing one now about the trip Joe and I took to England. It’ll come out next year! Which is getting closer all the time!

  10. Deborah says:

    Dear Susan,
    We finally had our power restored and are picking up the pieces (literally) in NJ. I don’t know if our home on LBI is still standing because we can’t access it as of yet. The bay met the ocean. I posted about it yesterday.
    Your blog, prayers and the friendships formed here are appreciated more than you know.
    Your words and art are a reminder that God is good, life is sweet, we are blessed. In all things it is better to hope than despair.
    Your Friend,

  11. Patti says:

    Lovely post! I am in CT and we got our power back Friday night. What a blessing and I am still not used to being able to flip the switch. So thankful. We attend church in Fairfield and our Pastor informed us yesterday how bad things are there. Peoples homes just floated out into Long Island Sound, so 5 days without power is nothing compared to what these folks have to endure.
    My daughters boyfriend is a lineman with United Illuminating here in CT and he informed us that last week people actually threw eggs at their trucks. Can you believe it? These guys are working mandatory 16 hour shifts in dangerous conditions, high above the trees with live wires. When they are done here in CT they will be dispatched out of state (mandatory).
    If you ladies have a moment today…send up a prayer for the lineman. If you run across them grabbing a meal or cup of coffee in the local Dunkin Donuts, I know for a fact that they really appreciate a kind word or thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Threw eggs? That is so terrible! I was thinking maybe the people without electricity haven’t see the TV and don’t know how MUCH is being done to help, and don’t know how many people care so much. My Grandma was a woman of few words, 99% of which were positive, but one time she made us all burst out laughing when she shook her head at some dumb thing she heard someone did on the news, going tsk tsk, and said, “There’s always a creep in the crowd.” A kind word? They are heroes! It’s dangerous hard work they are doing…. be sure to tell him we LOVE him!

  12. CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

    Well we didn’t get blown away but darn near did. Lost power and land line but just got that back Saturday evening. Since we’re inland there wasn’t much water damage. We lost several very large evergreen trees. One fell across the hood of my car but was save from much damage by the tie wall which broke it’s fall. I like camping but not in my own home. Lugging buckets of water for the toilets and cooking on the outside grill every evening only to face a horribably cold house was not fun. Cable out so we have to go to the library to access email but who’s complaining. We’re here and we’re OK. Glad to hear you and your’s are OK too. Hugs from NJ

  13. Kathryn from CA says:

    I have spent the morning reading all the girlfriends’ comments, and how wonderful to feel so connected with a community of kindred spirits! So glad to know you are safe and sound, Susan… I was worried too! We are so blessed by your kindness and creativity. Thanks for all you do! xxo

  14. KathyC says:

    Oh my gosh, I’m SO GLAD you’re all okay. For some reason I didn’t get this newsletter, and it worried me that maybe you weren’t able to post. What you said is exactly what I’ve been feeling. Thank you for expressing it so beautifully. XXOO

  15. Marcia in Brazil says:

    This is a beautiful world! We are so blessed. I hope you are well. We miss you! <3

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve just had my nose buried in painting and writing the book; I’ve been very stingy with my time, but I miss you too! Will do a new post soon!!!

  16. Sreekala says:

    Hi Susan,
    I enjoyed your England trip posts very much, but I can’t seem to find them now. Could you tell me how to get to the archive section of your blog? Thanks in advance!

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t have an archive yet; the only way to do it, is to go to the arrows at the bottom of the home page and keep going back! We’re working on putting one together! Sorry!

      • Sreekala says:

        Thanks, and here I was thinking that I wasn’t bright enough to find the correct link! 🙂 I fell in love with Beatrix Potter and her work at the ripe old age of 33 when I saw the movie. I came across your site and your illustrations spoke to me just like Beatrix Potter’s and I have been a fan since then. I used to love watercolor painting when I was a kid and thanks to you I am rediscovering its delights. You are right about the power of osmosis, I visit your site to get my dose of inspiration each day. The only problem is I get lost in the “older posts” and sometimes forget to do any creative work!!! Thanks a lot for contributing so much beauty to the world through your art, writing and philosopy!!! You are my inspiration!

        • sbranch says:

          No sweeter words were ever spoken, thank you Sreekala!

          • Sreekala says:

            Hi again Susan,

            Just found out that there IS a faster way to get to your old blog posts than just clicking “Older Posts”!!! My eyes fell on the urls as I was clicking back and they came in this format:

            I entered 36 instead of the “2” and instantly jumped to the July post you had written just after you got back!!! I guess the numbers will change as you go on adding new posts, but it certainly is effective!

            Now reading /page/150/ – about the California garden!

          • sbranch says:

            See, that’s why I need you girls! 🙂 Thank you!

  17. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Dear Susan *

    Good Morning.

    Instead of posting (replying) soon after I read your newest Blog, here I am writing to you, BEFORE your post has magically appeared online.

    Why, you ask? Well, I just want to say “Good Morning” to you and wish you a wonderful day working on your new book.

    After reading so many of the comments from our Girlfriends, each and everyone has either been touched by the super-storm personally, or knew someone who was. What an incredible outpouring of what they are going through and the care and concern they have. I have to add, we do have some great guys posting here too. Couldn’t forget them.

    And, in the very center of these heartfelt and bittersweet comments from the girlfriends, there you were, giving them your sweet, encouraging words, making what had happened this past week, somehow, a bit easier for them to bear. You always seem to say the right things.

    You are very special, Susan, and I guess I just had to tell you that.

    Luv to you, yours and to all of our Girlfriends…Take care everyone!
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  18. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Good Mornin’ Susan – just had to say, “I miss you” – AND – I’m praying the Noreaster will fizzle out! Stay safe all you East Coaster’s!

  19. Nel E from Michigan says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blogs! As soon as I read one, I can’t wait until your next one! Thank you for opening your world to us! The reality is that you don’t know me, nor will we ever meet, but in the strangest sort of way, I feel I know you and that we are connected. Not really sure how that happened, but it did. You make feel that even in the midst of a crazy, stressful world, there is a little candle on Martha’s Vinyard, reminding us about what is important in life! THANK YOU!!!!
    PS.. How did you get those “sayings” on those pumpkins?????????

    • sbranch says:

      You grow the pumpkins; when they are about to turn orange, you scratch the words in with a skewer, and let them continue to ripen! So easy!

  20. Martha says:

    Hi Susan – I’m just getting caught up with all my blog-viewing. We lost power on my street for 8 days and just got our internet and tv back this evening. I guess we’re lucky as compared to some people in NY and NJ – but it’s nice to get back to normal and be warm and safe at home. Your blog is always so beautiful and comforting. Thank you.
    Martha from Connecticut

  21. Natalie W. says:

    Beautiful point of view, Susan. Thanks for sharing.

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