Happy Earth Day!

If this was all there was, the full magic of nature here on earth, I would still be amazed and over-the-moon grateful for the gift.

But it isn’t, it’s only the barest beginning, because we are lucky enough to share the planet with a million other miracles besides ourselves and daffodils.

Earth Day is my second favorite holiday after Valentine’s Day.  (Not counting Christmas and Thanksgiving!)  What makes more sense for us to celebrate than this blessed ground we walk on that gives us all we need to survive? 

The sky takes my breath away almost every day . . . when it’s clear, I feel like I can see depths to the ends of eternity.

The sound of the seagulls, the lapping of water at the shore turns my eyes to heaven and fills them with tears of gratitude, because I am truly, deeply, madly

Does this not just touch your heart?  There is no other pink like this.  This is why the word “delicate” had to be invented, for cherry blossoms.  Did you know that Japan gave America 3,000 cherry trees and they are all planted together in Washington, DC?  They are, click HERE to see them.  Did I hear someone say, “road trip?”

Which is what we took yesterday, a mini road trip when Joe came to me, smooshed into the couch, smothered in blankets and kitty fur and said, “Don’t you think you need an airing?”  (I love it that he calls it an airing.)  It’s been a long time since I’ve been out of the house, still getting better from this cold, but I couldn’t quite get up fast enough, get my jacket and scarf and camera and run to the door panting with joy while he got into his hat and coat.  We stopped for coffee at the Scottish Bakehouse, we looked at fruit trees in bloom at Vineyard Gardens nursery and then we went to Squibnocket Beach, where we sat for a while to watch the seagulls and the waves.

We drove under the leafless trees, past the greening meadows along roadsides clustered with bunches of daffodils, puttering along, enjoying the way the curving land brought us close to small harbors, little boats, and water views, heading up-island to Menemsha, a tiny fishing village you might recognize if you saw the movie Jaws.

This is it . . . a sleepy little fishing village.

We wandered around, walked out to the end of the pier, watched boats come and go, checked out the deserted beach, taking pictures of little things … like this boat full of lobster traps.

And this fishing-shack window where someone keeps his lures.  (Lots of reflections in the window.)

And this pile of scallop shells outside another old shack with the Menemsha fishing fleet in the background.

Thoughts of lobster and scallops made us hungry.  We stopped in the miniature half-block-long village to choose something for dinner at the fish market (the one that used to be Poole’s, for you island regulars), the freshest fish in the world I would guess, since the boats pull right up at the pier outside that back door.

Here’s their menu … you can buy the fish raw, take it home and cook it yourself, or they will cook it for you.  The reason they call their lobster dinners the “Sunset Special” ….

… is because of this.  Menemsha Fish Markets are popular in the summer because they’re within walking distance of the beach where you can take your steamed lobsters and clams, raw oysters and cold slaw (bring your own salad, strawberries and wine) and have dinner on the beach, watch the kids skip rocks into the water, swim to remove lobster juices, and watch one of the prettiest sunsets anywhere.

It’s a regular summer pastime here, this gift from God.  For my dad’s 65th birthday, we came here for sunset, brought a table and chairs, and had a feast.

A little too chilly for us on the beach last night so we brought our lobsters home and ate them here.  I’m sure you all are beginning to think that the only things I eat are lobsters and Chicken Soup!  It isn’t true (which is too bad), but those are two of my favorites which I could eat every day.  Especially because, since the minute I got sick, I vowed to take advantage of the fact and change the way I was eating.  I mean, if you’re going to be sick, you might as well get something out of it!  Like the chance of setting a new routine and saying goodbye to a couple of pounds.  (Not from starvation, don’t you ever worry that would happen with me! 🙂 but just from not drinking half and half anymore.)  I only want healthy things now, no more cream in my tea (for now), no more wine (the easy part); I cut out most of the cookies (only one for afternoon tea, a delicious gluten-free ginger cookie we buy at the store called “Mi-Dell” with 24 calories each — I really look forward to that, in case you can’t tell :-)); ice cream Drumsticks, another afternoon “snack” I love, are out, and I guess I don’t even have to tell you about french fries, garlic bread, and potato pancakes.  I doubled my blueberry and pink grapefruit intake and halved the size of my dinner plate.  I’m not going to say what I weigh, but I will tell you that I gained TEN POUNDS during the writing of our book over the winter.  Oh yeah.  Did you do that too?  Joe came close!  So, for example, at breakfast this morning I had three eggs, but only one yolk (watching calories) with minced green onions on top.  And you know what, YUM!  I loved it, and it was enough.  The lobster last night was with lemon juice (from the California trees that the girls sent me for my birthday) and steamed broccoli.  It was delicious and healthy, the kind of food that (as the old commercial used to go) “makes strong bones twelve ways”.  I removed all the animal fat from the stock in the Chicken soup so it’s pure vegetables and protein that just happens to taste like heaven.  I’m going to keep food really simple for now, and combine it with a springtime emphasis on fresh air, movement, and exercise to shrink my appetite a bit, reduce calorie intake and inspire more sleeping time, because I am not going on the road with these pounds on me.  No girls, I need to wear the cute clothes in order to be happy.  Some pounds yes, these pounds NO.  And I’m feeling better every day.  So excited to get to the garden, to walk our walk, to go pick up the mail on foot and watch the roses bloom on picket fences, to enjoy the greatest gift of all, nature, and it’s all starting to happen now.  Pretty soon we’ll have fresh healthy homegrown vegetables, herbs, and strawberries, crisp and juicy from the garden and wild blueberries from the woods.  Ahhhh, girlfriends, here come the glory days. Happy, Happy Earth Day to you all!  xoxo

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600 Responses to THE GIFT

  1. Linda B. says:

    I love your spring flower pictures! Our daffodils are all bloomed out but our tulips are just ready to open and I am anxious to see them. Each spring it is like waiting for small packages to be opened and be thrilled at the beauty all over again. I would adore either of your lovely books. As often as I have seen your work I am still amazed at the talent and skill you have. I am so glad you are sharing it with all of us! Your blog is such a bright spot. Happy spring!!

  2. Nicole says:

    when I receive your e mails Its like a present, thank you for giving us a reason to smile and feel good.

  3. Jane Ortyl says:

    Just putting my name in the hat. Love reading your blogs, Willards, and anything else you write. It’s like getting a note from an old friend.
    Jane Ortyl

  4. Sherry Wilson says:

    I would love to win these books. I have already give away three of the girlfriends books. Thank you so much for the opportunity to win.

  5. Alicia says:

    Oh, this post lit up my heart on this grey, rainy morning here in NC! It’s been raining forever, well, really only 2 days, but it seems like forever. Your pictures of flowering trees & flowers & your precious kitty made my heart sing! Thank you. I have Girlfriends Forever, a gift from my very best BFF, a few years ago, & I love looking at it. I haven’t been able to find The Summer Book, & I’d LOVE that, too. And yes, please share the recipe for the blueberry angelfood cake. It looks delish.

  6. Gerri Keating says:

    Love your books, so do my two daughters. You blog lift me up and help me to see the beauty of Marthas Vineyard. Your life seems peaceful and savors the small and wonderful things of life..
    I would love to win the books, of course. In the meantime,, I will enjoy your blogs and remain hopeful.
    Gerri Keating

  7. Ann says:


  8. Tracy says:

    Enjoying your colorful pictures on a day which is foggy and rainy in my hometown. Your posts take me away to a beautiful place and make me thankful for the little things around me that otherwise might go unnoticed. Thank you for that.

  9. Ruth Steele says:

    Your name coming up on my mail delights my heart :). I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better, and I love the yellow colors God sends in those heart-lifting daffodils and forsythia bushes, can any other color say “Spring is here!” any better, He knows best!

  10. Judi says:

    Thank you for such BEAUTIFUL pictures and delightful subtitles…..Makes my heart HAPPY!

  11. carolyn eagles says:

    I will bake the blueberry cake today ! and would love to be reading either of your books while I devour, especially The Summer Book. I am a summer-born baby. Perhaps the most beautiful place in this world for me would be Martha’s Vinyard……how lucky you are to be planted there. Your post is inspirational to me….I wish that you would consider writing a “guide to fine living” which would earmark special things to do to keep your home clean and organized, etc. I get snipets of things you do, but is there a seasonal laundry list, like the butlers and house maids from Downton Abbey might use. Please forgive . I do know that “Living a Beautiful Life” by Alexandra Stoddard, now out of print, is priceless!
    It, involves things to do to make life BEAUTIFUL, as you do. Anyway, I am going to have to find gluten-free flour for my dessert, but I long for A Fine Romance and perhaps the Summer Book will be mine…………….des colores, carolyn

    • sbranch says:

      Thats a good idea Carolyn. I just follow the seasons, do what inspires … forsythia and angel food cake in the spring, leaves and grilled cheese in the fall.

  12. Cindy Storrar says:

    I have loved your work for sooo long…we are “about” the same age and life experiences. Your books sit on my kitchen shelf to reread, enjoy, and often times, to take me “away.” thankyou for sharing your joyous talent, and for loving your “girlfriends.”

  13. Deborah McCormick says:

    I have always dreamed of owning a house with a lovely garden. My mother recently needed too be in with us so we purchased a one story house with lovely gardens. I now feel the joy that Susan has as she walks through her yard.

  14. Ashlee Sorensen says:

    Hi Susan. I always looks forward to reading your emails. They make my days brighter! You are adorable. Have a beautiful day!

    xo ashlee

  15. susan wilson says:

    love this blog. gives me a feeling of peace. thank you!

  16. Mare Hare says:

    Thank you for sharing your “Spring Joy” It’s cold and rainy in Wisconsin with visible snow on the ground STILL. I am able to escape thru your musings.You renew my spirits everyday in so many ways. I begin my morning with “Days” and look at your calendar. When I end the day Susan Branch is almost always an entry in my “Gratitude Journal”


  17. Suzi Knapp-Burseth says:

    I would love to be entered in the book drawing! Aren’t you glad spring is here!

  18. Linda Groff says:

    Simply stated, thanx!

  19. Linda York says:

    You always brighten my day! Thank you!

  20. Barbie Prince says:

    I am writing here for the first time in hopes of winning a book. I love Susan’s lady like and cozy writings and pictures. Thank-you for making my day happier!!!

  21. gail thomas says:

    Your post is wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

  22. Marie says:

    Lovely post as usual. What a delight it would be to add those books to my favorite’s collection.

    Thank you for the chance and for sharing your life with us 🙂


  23. Rose Utterback says:

    I llove your blogs esp. when there are photos of Joe, Jack and Kitty. You live in a such a beautiful area. Keep up the good work.

  24. Theresa Slivinski says:

    Hello Susan,
    So glad you are feeling better! Would love to get a girlfriend book. I really don’t have a girlfriend except my husband. Best friend of all. Xoxo’s

  25. Rose Occhino says:

    Your blogs make me nostolgic for romantic times gone by. Can’t wait for yor new book.

  26. Linda says:


    Your books make WONDERFUL & SPECIAL gifts! I pull mine out when I need a lift and can always find something wonderful to cook or bake or just read. You keep writing and painting (after a “time-out” for good behavior, of course!)

  27. Wanda Larson says:

    The Girlfriends Book has been one of my favorite books to gift!!

  28. Connie M D says:

    Recipe – Pleeeeeeeeeeeease, now, not later!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you too much. XO

  29. Patty C. says:

    Susan, I love your attitude and the wonderful beauty you see in life! Keep it up, it encourages me! XOXO

  30. Carol Decker says:

    You are such an inspiration to me!! I bought all of your cookbooks and calendars long before I found out about your blog and subscribed to it. This evening I decided to attempt to be the winner, because I would love to have a book that was signed by you to pass down to my daughter. We both love to cook and bake. I enjoy indoor and outdoor gardening, too. In addition, I love to write and hope to do a lot more of it when I have more time. Currently, I work long hours in the corporate world, so my personal time is precious. However, I always take the time to read your messages, especially after a hard day. Then, I feel a lot better. Often, I forward your messages to family and colleagues, even to my Customer Service trainees in Osaka, Japan. Thanks for making the world a more beautiful place and for sharing all of the beauty in your world. Carol (a.k.a. the Christmas Carol)

  31. Jill says:

    Two books would brighten my day. Things look better on the vineyard than out in the western part of the state. I’d love a trip to the islands soon.

  32. Nancy Brigham says:

    can’t wait to get your new book. I have already made a list of people who will be receiving for Christmas. My British friends and I will be going on a girl’s trip to the U.K. and will use it as a guide!!! Love!!!

  33. Karen says:

    I would love to give those books to my best girlfriend who lives on the cape. I visit her everyseason and my heart belongs there. I have already preordered “A Fine Romance” and will share it with her. Happy you are feeling better.

  34. Mary Pat says:

    Can hardly wait for A Fine Romance. Heading to England with youngest adult daughter (26) in a few weeks. Staying in the Lake District with full plans for Hill Top Farm. We followed your Summer 2012 tour of the UK and were inspired. Kindred spirits for love of Beatrix. We call our tour Corgis and Crumpets. We are fond of the little low riders and of course tea, tea, tea. The Summer book just what we need to read about now here in snowy beleaguered Colorado this spring. Snow and then more snow with predictions of 9-12 inches for May Day. How dare the weather ruin our May basket doorbell ding and dash fun. Your blossom photos lift our Rocky Mtn spirits. Thanks awfully.

  35. Theresa says:

    How wonderful to receive this blog, on a rainy day AND a Monday. Thank you for the ‘lift’ you give so many of us, Susan! Just had my third cup of tea. Life is good!

  36. gloria inman says:

    Susan… make my heart SING!!! A little early, but I already have my
    Summer Book on it’s stand in the kitchen. You bring out the best in us!! xoxo

  37. susan says:

    I always look to see if any new things on your post if any new I keep it till late at night when I have some down time. Thanks so very much. Susan Clark

  38. Carol Schlerf says:

    Susan, I so enjoy your perspective on life. Sometimes I may be cranky, but seeing your art and reading your thoughts flip my heart, and I become grateful and calm. I live in Santa Barbara, and have been to your former shop in Arroyo Grande, and the antiques sale at your property in Arroyo Grande…what treats! I aim to have “a Susan Branch spirit” when I use my white mixing bowls from your shop, plus the birds love the bird feeder I got there, also. And, the shelf paper you designed makes me smile when I open my cupboards! Life is better with an infusion of “a little Susan Branch” every day! I have pre-ordered A Fine Romance for myself and a friend, and will love seeing it all through your eyes.

    Thank you for making life more lovely for so many of us.


    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Carol — Please say hi to Santa Barbara for me! I’ll be out there in the fall, looking forward to it!

  39. Shelley Boone says:

    Susan, would love to win your books. I bought the Girlfriend book and gave it to one of my best friends who loved it! Whenever I am tired or blue or just want to decompress I read your blog which instantly brings a smile to my face!

  40. Patricia Cash says:

    Oh please, oh please, the blueberry angelfood cake recipe now………………..
    It looks delicious!!!!!!

  41. Brenna Henry says:

    Hi Susan,
    I couldn’t get enough of those flower picks too! And I am so excited for your new additions to the garden!! Looking forward to seeing you in the Fall out here in CALI and of course to get the new book!!!!!! I hope you have a beautiful day full of laughter, nature’s beauty and love <3

  42. Wanda Rittgers says:

    Love the kitty and the flowers. Please may I have the blueberry angelfood recipe? Thank you!

  43. Mary S. says:

    Susan, I don’t have any of your books YET, but I hope too. I started with one of your calendars. I have been reading your blog for a few months now, and it makes me feel good to see such wonderful happenings! The flowers, tress, dishes ( which they remind me of my Great Grandma Pearl. Dishes and my cuckoo clock.) I feel happy, Cloey ( my golden retreiver sits right beside me as I read your inspiring words.) I to would like the blueberry cake receipe. Yum..
    Have a wonderful day, and God bless.


  44. Stephanie M. says:

    Thanks for always bringing back the joy of old fashioned living, writing (not typing on a keyboard!), taking tea, the feel of old linen, beautiful antique kitchen towels and the idea of dancing in the kitchen! You are right about spring, you really don’t really how bad you missed warmer weather until you open your windows for the first time after the winter and you feel you came back to life! The birds singing, the warm sun on your cheeks and the green sprouts coming up in the garden. Hope you always keep your sunny perspective!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure they ever went away with this group of kindred spirits. I just think most women love things connected to home and family!

  45. LINDA says:

    Thank you,one of the happiest and most delightful emails I have received in a long time.

  46. Leslie H. says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you for the lovely post! You really are an inspiration. I found your blog around the holidays and was smitten by all your photos and stories. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your world. BTW I had a “few” winter pounds and found a neat little tool. I like it because it tells me all of the nutrients I have consumed and what I still need. Maybe not for everyone, but I like to work in a budget! Happy Spring, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      I eat so strangely sometimes. For instance, I love cottage cheese, so I grind over pepper, and put on some broccoli sprouts, and then use crunchy crispy rice crackers to dip into it — only two. Very hard to compute calories on things like that without taking an hour to put in all the ingredients. Is there a quicker way that you know of?

  47. Debbie Selam says:

    Thanks for the wonderful blog entry with all the beautiful spring images, and thanks for the opportunity to win the two books. Although I already own both, I am sure I can gift the books to family and friends. I absolutely love the summer book and enjoy looking through the recipes and summertime ideas. I think I’ve mentioned how I so look forward to a Spring book to add to my collection. Have a wonderful spring now that you’ve completed your latest book. I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better. Debbie

  48. Nancy Dunn says:

    We have less than 20 people living on Cuttyhunk year round this year. The number of residents varies on weekends and in the spring and fall seasons. We shop and bring back groceries for each other depending on who is off-island, since our tiny market closed for the season back in November. It just opened up again though, it’s open 45 minutes a day! 🙂 We do have quite a few chickens here for fresh eggs which is great!

    Thanks for the information on Leos, I’ll have to see what the compatibility is with my sign for future reference.

    We came over to Oak Bluffs this past Saturday in a twin engine boat and made it in about an hour. I haven’t sailed much but am definitely open to doing more of it.

    Enjoy the warm spring and your beautiful gardens! Thanks for the joy your blog brings to many of us.


    • sbranch says:

      I know both the drawbacks and the pleasures of living in a small town. But not as small as yours! We are in the perfect place for boating, all these crooked shores filled with nooks and crannies! Enjoy Nancy. So nice to meet you!

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