Believe you me (as my mom would say💖), you cannot pack up all your very favorite things from a house you’ve lived in for 35 years without living every single day on that beautiful old street called Memory Lane. MUSICA! I love it there. I’m good at it. Not the packing, the memories. Everything we pick up has a story, and looking at some things brings back the years, and leaves me with joy joy joy, a surprising result from what should be an awful job! Me (and Man Cat) when I first moved to Martha’s Vineyard from California, in my tiny house in the woods (that I accidentally bought because of the cute stove and broken bird feeder) knowing no one, devastated from divorce, scared, confused (like how did I get 3,000 miles from everything normal), with no idea what would come next. See that face? It’s the face of luckiness. But we never know where life will take us. Fun thing about growing older, you get to see your path! The little cottage I’d stumbled upon had a hand-written sign out front with a name, Holly Oak ~ the house had a name! It was small but it was cute! So much happened in the seven years I lived there, that in 2016 I used my old diaries and photographs to write a book about it called Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams. Next Willard is going to be all about this little house. Pure memory indulgence. Now it’s hard to wait … 👏

And I was right, wonderful things were ahead. As my eyes began to open to everything around me, I heard the birds singing, I admired every detail of the changing seasons. I began feeling like a bunch of fairies were always running ahead arranging little discoveries for me . . . it never seemed I had to look far to see them . . . and it never stopped. Here we are on our walk just the other day. Where’d that heart come from? We don’t know. We walked past it to where Joe is in the photo, and I suddenly thought “I can’t just walk by that,” and said to Joe, “Hey, look at this.” I went back and showed him and he said, “Take a picture of it.” (Joe, the gift that keeps on giving. Fairy found him in a restaurant and sat him next to me one night.💞)

Joe waited while I took pictures. I think it was just a dry place in the damp road where the trees hadn’t dripped. Put there for us.

We love our walk so much we put our name on it. Lots of times! 

Only 3 weeks ago our walk looked like this . . . colorlessness in all its colorless glory. Deeply beige. Good air though, good, clean, cold, briny, fresh ocean air.💨

Everything we see is art.🧡

And baby look at it now . . .The gift of our lives, being here in all seasons, a piece of our hearts will ALWAYS be here, forever, until time is no longer. It’s made for such a happy life! What I take with me from this: sea glass we found during hours of wandering the beach, heart-shaped rocks, tons of photos and videos, memories, of the porches we sat on watching the sun set, the barbecues on the beach with our friends, the yellow kitty I found and wrapped in my jacket to take home ~ too many memories to mention ~ always reminding me what a wonderful world this is. And the BOOKS we’ve listened to together out there (one Airpod in my ear, and the other in Joe’s)! Speaking of which: Oh boy, do I have good books for you! First off, have you read The Dutch House by Ann Patchett? SO GOOD!!!! A+++ and read by Tom Hanks! Which made it perfect. He acts all the way through it! We just finished it the other day, we both cried at the end. Walked the rest of the way home talking about it.📚 We are now reading something completely different, but equally compelling, memoir and history, my two favorites, and it includes archival recordings! It’s by Doris Kearns Goodwin and it’s called An Unfinished Love Story. We’re only just two walks into this book, and I thought I knew the history of the 1960s, but I was only 13 when the decade began, and am being TREATED to a whole new view in this book. I think what I was doing and thinking then (sooo busy watching Bewitched, meeting the Beatles) and compare it to what these others were doing and thinking. Another world! Walking and learning!👍👍 Win-win! Under the trees, through the woods, to the sea with my honey man, for a lifetime.   Even the sky knows it’s spring, and not afraid to show it.

Our house fronts on two streets, this is a view of the small-town, tree-lined street at the back…. . . I love the lawn going right up to the granite curb . . . in my mind, the cars and asphalt are gone, and what I see is a couple of horses nibbling grass . . . How quiet it is . . . make a right after that second car, and you see this . . .

Our House. The first time I saw this, before I knew I could buy it, I would come over and sit here in my car and stare at it, dreaming it into becoming mine.💖

Looking down from way up there, the sky, the same one we walk under, the same one you see outside your window, the same one that floated over that old street and this old house 175 years ago, has seen it all . . .

Seasons of beauty, and the excitement we feel waiting for each season as it comes, marking time as a gift. Sparkling sweet spring and my pink-flowered clematis Montana Reubens is blooming!!! I saw this plant for the first time at the first house we rented in England and fell in love 🌸. Wrote about it in my garden diary, came home and planted it. You California girls, do you know if this vine will grow out there?🙏 I might have to be satisfied with gardenias and sweet peas which don’t grow well here on the island. Gardenias, not at all!

The bluebells came from Lowely’s garden and now they’re in bloom in my garden and volunteering all over! In England, bluebells are protected, and in the spring there are carpets of them in the woods, for as far as the eye can see.🦋 

The Jan van Leeuwen peony my girlfriends gave me in 2020 in memory of my mother just bloomed in time for this Willard. The first of my peonies to bloom each year.💞 Wonderful! Big as my hand!

Next comes this one! My mom and Shirley Temple go together like peanut butter and jelly, bologna sandwiches and potato chips, saltine crackers and milk.💞

This is my second year of No Mow May. I love seeing what comes up when we don’t mow! It’s quieter too . . . no lawn mowers. 

Everything seems to be blooming at once, Lily of the Valley, 

. . . dogwood, and Lilac too. Mrs. Bowditch, who lived here for 30 years before us (to whom I give thanks every spring, summer, winter and fall), planted the entire west side of this property with lilacs!

Mrs. Bowditch’s wisteria is planted across the length of the house on the arbor that goes under our bedroom windows, under another bedroom’s windows, under the back stairs window, ending outside the Peter Rabbit room bedroom windows. Old old, with a trunk much thicker than my leg. Our windows, newly relieved of storm windows, are open at the perfect time… to smell the flowers, and hear the sound of the fattest bees!💤

I came in from the garden carrying my phone, and my shadow came with me . . . I looked down, and there was my OTHER shadow.💖 

Jack seems to be oblivious to what is going on in this house. He hasn’t said a thing about the shelf Carlton made for me (see the hearts?) being taken down and wrapped up to go to California. Doesn’t miss the pictures on the wall, not repelled by empty bookshelves, missing silverware, dishes, and nap blankets, doesn’t mind walking around, over, or through boxes … He does what he always does, looks cute, basks in the sun, shadows me…

Waits in my chair . . . because he knows soon it will be nap time . . .

Rolls over for Joe’s Man-hands to give him a good rub! He is going to love our trip across country. He’ll be center of attention 24-7!

And while packing, I look outside, feeling the springtime vibes of this 35th Spring of our lucky lives here in this house. This normal Valley girl, oldest of 8 children, walking to school in my Girl Scout uniform, Reseda High School alumni, squirrel-luring, doll-loving, bologna sandwich eating, Toni permanent getting, Zuma Beach sitting, star-wishing, Ciro’s dancing, Beatle-meeting, Joe-finding, cat adoring, birthday-cake making, cookbook-writing, LUCKY person.🌹

Only 35 Springs here . . . of the 175 that this old house has experienced. We did our part, 35 Christmases, 3 weddings, one memorial, and one movie night under the trees, too many birthday toasts under the arbor to count, flags on the front of the house, croquet and badminton in the garden, lobster dinners with Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James MUSICA wafting over the neighborhood, hot dogs on the grill, tea parties, Christmas Parties, Girl parties, egg hunts, a luau for Joe’s 40th, quilts-airing, sheets drying, kitties galore, visiting neighbor dogs, in short, LIFE. And I have photos of it all! I’m writing this so that hopefully the people who live here after us, will find this and know what a living thing this house is.🦞 It goes forth with my forever thanks and gratitude.🌹 

I went through my 17 photo albums and took pictures of everything I love. Much faster than scanning, and worked really well. This is one of them . . . it’s my first photo of the house, the exact view from that pretty street where I used to sit and stare.

And this, with hearts I stenciled on the windows for Valentine’s Day . . . Perfect forever-decor for this house. Even if you can’t see them now, you know they were there. And that’s what makes all the difference.💋

For happily ever-aftering than here in Camelot . . .❤️

I feel so lucky that when we get to California . . .

. . . we have another picket-fence garden . . . and a little house that I love. What Martha’s Vineyard (AND England) taught me is that I’ll be happy no matter where I am as long as I can be outside, with old trees, the sound of bees, the smell of dirt, watching birds, hugging kitties, watching the sun set, wandering with Joe. It always was and always will be

Our move in 2024 is very different from my move alone in 1982 … this time I bring my loves with me, my Kitty and Joe . . . and I bring you. I didn’t have you last time, I was in the process of growing into the having of you . . . this time is MUCH better! Can’t wait to show you all our new plans. But never worry that we won’t have our memories too . . . you’ve been here on the island with me for so many years, we’ll never forget it! And I’ll never stop writing about it. Like they never stopped writing about Camelot! Because once there was a spot . . . 😘

Jane Austen and I have a lot in common in that we know how to celebrate getting older! Same way we celebrated being younger! (douceurs in French means “sweets”)🍷

Here’s another harbinger of spring on Martha’s Vineyard, John’s Fish Market opens for the season!!! Oh my!!!🍤🍤🍤 Time OUT from packing!!!

You know it will be good when you go inside and see this photo that’s been on the wall for years . . . Glenn, John’s son, and I’m guessing this is his little sister? She’s smaller than the fish!🐙

You know it’s going to be good when you see this out behind the market! It’s the real thing!

So along with the rest of the island, we go down and stand in line for all their delicious delights, fantastic fresh fish, lobsters, and potato salad … plus, THE best shakes, fries, onion rings, burgers, fish plates, the Island’s best version of fast food, except (spoiler alert) it’s not really fast, but it’s GOOD . . .

And here: the creme de la creme. . . our first fish sandwich of the season. The best melt-in-your-mouth, freshest-fish sandwiches on the face of the earth.🐟 From a fish market that was here when I got here. I never met John, but I knew his wife Sandy . . . for years and years, I would come for fish and joke with Sandy. And now their son Glenn is there, cooking for everyone. If you come to the island, go there, and be REALLY nice, and tell them I sent you. For old times sake. Click HERE to find them. ❌⭕️

Took this bowl to Margot’s for a party on her porch on Friday night with all our friends . . . filled it with Brownies (p.109 Autumn Book ~ but I’ll put the recipe at the bottom of this blog in case you’re in the mood🤗) . . . I didn’t put my name on the bowl, left it and the embroidered linen doily for her . .. because it’s true. “Old friends is always best. . . Unless,” as Sarah Orne Jewett wrote, “you can catch a new one fit to make an old one out of.”♥️Our moving van comes in one week!🤪 But we’re going to stay another month. So all is well . . . we’re DOING it.🆘 Each day I get up and MAKE my day. That’s what it seems to take. A TON of conviction, more than any normal person should have to have, and as little over-thinking as possible. Trying to pay attention to the minutes so the days will take care of themselves!🌹

One last thing ~ just came in . . . we’ve had these “Secret Notes” (see the tiny matchbox at the bottom of this photo?) in our web store for years . . . but I recently decided we needed some new messages and so I made some! Just back from the printer, Kellee sent me a box! It’s an oldie but goodie turned new again. Little notes to stuff into pockets and backpacks . . . tuck into letters, use as bookmarks, give to friends ~ And, did you guys get a chance to read the comments from my last Willard? So so SO good … if you ever need to feel better about this old world, read those comments.💌 It’s all love all the time. You come out purified! Scroll down, it’s the Willard under this one . . . to read them, just click on the tiny word “comments” at the very end (just beyond all the other tiny words). And sign-up on the top right of this page if you’d like the Willards delivered to you! And here’s the recipe I promised! Happy cooking!❤️

L🅾Ve  Y🅾u 🌹

Off I go . . . this is the day I start packing up my STUDIO! I wrote something like 12 books in this room!!! 

And I’m taking it all!

My paints!

Every single memory is coming with me! Saving them up to tell you more later!🌹🌹🌹 Looking forward to our ROAD TRIP!!!

Adios dear ones!!! Thanks for stopping by! Have yourselves a wonderful day!💋

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279 Responses to MEMORY LANE

  1. Penelope says:

    Dear Susan, we packed up our house in New York in 2018 and retired to the east coast of Scotland, leaving most of our possessions behind! We downsized from a four-bedroom house to a cosy flat. It was exhilarating, liberating, frightening, and has proved to be one of the best things we have ever done! The move was exhausting but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to reading about your adventures in your new home. (I also hope that when you venture back to the UK, you come to Scotland!)

    • sbranch says:

      WOW! Now THAT was brave! Does one of you have citizenship in Scotland?

      • Penelope says:

        Yes, I do. We wanted to retire to Scotland, and we did! Moving is never easy, but it is worth it. New adventures await!

    • Jacque Fisher says:

      Dear Penelope~
      Relocating from NY to Scotland?! WOW! Can a person be homesick for a place they’ve never lived? That’s how I feel about Scotland! Hubby and I have made four trips starting in 2015, and for us there is no place else… I hope we can return in 2025. I sometimes imagine spending an entire year in Scotland and experiencing all the seasons, but I think I might struggle during the winter with short days and long dark nights… Living most of my life in the bright, sunny climate of the Colorado mountains has spoiled me! How do you find the winters? Where on the east coast do you live? I confess you are living my fantasy!…

  2. Deb Packard says:

    Are you going back to the beautiful place in California you were sharing photos of? Either way, wherever you are beauty follows. I’ll miss having you “nearby” (as a Cape Codder). You’ve brought me so much comfort since my mom brought me to meet you and get your first cookbook in Falmouth. Looking forward to all the new adventures you share. Best of luck xo

  3. Susan K. of Westfield MA says:

    Susan, such a wonderful Blog…. can’t wait to hear of all your new adventures. Not an easy decision but a good one for you both.

  4. Maureen Whitman says:

    I always think of you when I drive by your house when visiting the island. This will remain the case even though I know you are moving on. You have infused that home and property with oodles and oodles of sparkly, positive energy! Happy for the new owners! Enjoy the road trip. Life is an adventure. We recently moved out of a very similar home on Cape Ann. Bittersweet but very fun to be able to find and embrace a fresh view!! Congrats to you and Joe.

  5. Joan Putney says:

    I always enjoy your books and your Willards…your writing, your art work, your photos, the quotes, and now your memories. It must be a sweet melancholy you are experiencing now.
    Best wishes and safe travels to you , Joe, and your handsome kitty. ❤️❤️❤️

  6. Shade says:

    I love seeing photos of all your paints. Do you have favorite supplies? Those paint boxes are almost irresistible…all that juicy color just waiting. And of course we love your illustrations.

  7. Roseanne Hall says:

    Susan, thank you for all the memories, I will follow you wherever you go💗

  8. Linda Pintarell says:

    Being one of your first girlfriends, I think, as I bought your first book in SLO when it first came out…I want to say WELCOME BACK TO CALI! You had a wonderful adventure on the east coast for 35 years. Now time to return home. I’m just so overjoyed that you did not sell that beautiful Arroyo Grande property. I lost sleep over it when you seemed determined to sell; I just couldn’t imagine anyone else owning/loving that property. AND I can imagine what it will be like as you make it your loving home again. I’m one happy gal friend that you made this decision. Safe travels as you make your way back to us. All the girlfriends will get the benefit of your new adventures! Loved the new little notecards. Have used them over the years and will be fun to see new ones. Linda in San Diego

  9. Marlena says:

    Wonderful post! Cheers to a new wonderful chapter for you and Joe! 💕❤️💕

  10. Janice Nelson says:

    I will be sad to not see all of your glorious MV pics anymore. I’m a transplant to Utah (Park City/Midway) from New England (Wellesley MA and Dorchester NH) and your posts reminded me of all I loved there. Miss it a lot. A LOT. However…..we travel to CA more now because it is a short flight and my husband goes a lot for business (mostly San Diego) and there’s the OCEAN so I am very excited to start California Dreaming with your posts from the west coast and your lovely home there 🏡

  11. Lost in NH woods clutching my Zinnias and Baby's Breath Giclee says:

    As someone who never lived longer than 3 years in one place growing up until I married, 52 years ago, I packed my own room once I was old enough and orchestrated my dad’s move, 14,000 pounds of stuff which took a whole moving van, from WI to NH when my mom died, I sympathize with all you are doing. You go Girl!

    Side note: My Petey, from the Rotterdam, Holland America Line, circa 1961, says, “Have a great journey home to CA.” He’ll be keeping in touch with your Petey through their super secret communication. That’s the reason for the smile and sideways glance. They know everything that goes on.

  12. kathleen pendlebury says:

    Dear Susan, You probably won’t have the time to read this because your days are so full of moving, but I wanted (with this late email) to offer a bit of practical advice that you may not need, but here it is anyway: My sister inherited my parents home but was having trouble (as a retired widow) making ends meet. She asked me about a reverse mortgage, and if I thought it could be helpful, and I (knowing nothing about reverse mortgages) looked into it for her. It turned out to be a really good thing – she gets a check every month which is tax free and the amount is coincidentally equal to her monthly real estate tax – So her house is paying her property taxes for her entire lifetime! Anyway, good luck with your move – so smart – a no brainer! Please keep those Willards coming -I enjoy them immensely!

  13. Nancy says:

    Susan, I’m SO very glad that this move is going to be a WONDERFUL one! You’re moving back to my side of our country. 🙂 You’re bring your kitty & honey man, and going to land in a warm place for flowers year round. Thank you for taking us along on your adventure. I look forward to future chapters of your new west coast life! Cheers!!!

  14. Debbie Boerger says:

    I’m Waaay behind on reading the Comments. I just went back to finish up the previous ones in Real Life. While reading one on May 21, by Maureen from SoCal, I was gobsmacked by the realization that we, the Girlfriends, probably save Gobs of money on professional advisors. We’re all of similar ages, and those who are older help So much just by telling us what they went or are going through with various Life Transitions.
    It’s Sunday, and The Lovely Tom and I have a routine. Breakfast, Sunday Morning on CBS, reading the papers…..
    I’ll read this new Blog and all the rest of the comments later.

    We both know that when we “get old”, (we’re 84 and 79), we’ll have to sell our wonderful Maine place. It’s all about the medical care. Doctors leaving in droves, hospitals closing. Tom has had a heart attack, open heart for valve replacement, major prostate cancer and some small strokes. The latest doctor to leave Ellsworth is his urologist. To get the kind of care we need in Summer, we have to drive up to Bangor or even all the way down to Portland.
    Funny, how making the decision kind of frees you up to look Forward, right?
    I’m really excited about getting to go along with maybe thousands of Girlfriends on your move out to California. I’ll bet Joe will build a small guest cottage to accommodate your wonderful friends from “Back East”. That’s an interesting phrase, I think harking back to our early history of moving West.
    Thank you for spicing up our lives!
    Mucho love from Maine,

  15. Shari says:

    Just baked brownies – your recipe – they are soooooo good!!!

  16. Star Sterling says:

    Dear Susan, Honestly? I feel sickened after reading this post. It doesn’t seem to be a very healthy response to such a deep, potential loss in your life. Your Vineyard home is the world that you built with Joe and all of your kitties. It’s where you wrote your books. It’s where you nurtured your relationships and where you became you. It’s the Home of your Heart. The Home of all of our Hearts. Things happen. Things change. Still, being Happy, Happy, Happy and Joy, Joy, Joy about packing up Spring Street after making a critical decision while experiencing the best time of year in California and coming back to the hardest on the Island seems a bit out of place. Are you sure that you can’t find a smaller, beautiful, more perfect spot in AG and keep your Island home? An airstream trailer on a friend’s lot with a view? Are you sure that your April tears aren’t from unresolved grief? I am just a spec of dust in your thousands of followers, but I honestly care. I have been captivated by your books and I fell in love with your island life. I feel like you are tearing up that life by the roots and leaving it on the sidewalk to dry out in the hot sun.
    Love you, good luck, take care and if you do go, don’t miss the boat! I’ll be waving from the dock. “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good bye!”
    P.S. Thank you for getting me through COVID with your Willards and Tweets. “If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.” -John Lennon

  17. Franny R says:

    Dear Susan,

    It’s been months since I’ve posted a comment but that’s because since January, I’ve been preparing for my retirement which happened at the end of March. Thankfully, during that time I was faithful in reading your posts so that I am up to date on your most recent NEWS that you are moving back to your California roots. Wow oh WOW and congratulations! How wonderfully exciting for you, Joe and Jack!

    Like many of the girlfriends, I am very happy for the three of you but admittedly, a little sad for me because you will be moving away from New England. I moved to the Cape in 1981 and discovered you when I attended one of your book signings at a gift/home decor shop in Centerville. Although I left the Cape to move to Denver and then back to VT, I have always felt a strong tie to the Cape & MV and in particular, a kindred connection to you. It’s not surprising that all of the girlfriends feel a similar connection and for many very good reasons. You’ve been so generous in sharing your art, creativity, kindness, love and so much more with us over these past many years; how could we not feel a connection with you? I am so grateful that you will be continuing your Willard posts from your home in CA.

    Thank you for opening your heart and home to us. May God keep you safe as you travel the highways and bi-ways back to CA.


    Franny in VT

  18. Stacy says:

    Oh I must have missed something!! This is exciting. As a West Coast anglophile myself I’m really looking forward to hearing all about your lifestyle in the west. Happy packing! xx

  19. Carol Duffey, Sierra Madre says:

    Hello Susan,
    I wanted you to know that I read both of the last entries as soon as you sent them and I have wanted to comment to you also, but I just haven’t find the right words. I’m going to try, though, because I don’t want to be left out of all the Girlfriends who have sent their well wishes to you and Joe.
    I know it is such a bittersweet move for you. You have set down such deep roots there, making so many wonderful, forever friends and loving and caring for your absolutely beautiful home. But I totally understand why you two have decided to make the move. Your Central Cal home is calling to you now! You’re so lucky to have another beautiful home waiting for you! I’m not saying anything you don’t already know, but I just want you to know that I feel your sadness leaving, and I’m also so happy for your new adventure!
    My son is also moving back to our SoCal area after living in NYC for six years on July 1st. Finally! I have missed him so much. My older son has been living in Paris for the last six years also, so I have had an ache in my heart ever since they left.
    That’s nothing compared to how long you have lived on Martha’s, though.
    I wish you nothing but the best, always!! And I’m looking forward to tag along on your trip back west! Take care, and safe travels!
    xoxo, Carol

    • sbranch says:

      It is bitter and sweet, Carol . . . no question about it, but we do feel so lucky and I guess you can’t ask for more than that. So happy to hear you are getting a son back!!! xoxo

  20. Melissa Pimentel says:

    It was so lovely to see even more of the island in this latest Willard!! Where is the lovely trail you take your walks on?

  21. You have inspired me and continue to do so. Safe travels and know I will always hold you very close in my heart. I look forward to your next adventures with Joe and your fur baby. Suetta from Indy

  22. Beth Barnat says:

    Thank you for another heart warming Willard. I love lilacs!
    God bless you and Joe as you move to California.

  23. Jo'L says:

    Look forward to hearing whatever you can send out as things progress. Only the best for you and yours.

  24. Margot Birkett says:

    Sorry I am late to write ✍️ back. I am trying to get used to Arnie’s boat again. I will do some work, then in two weeks I will go to Wisconsin to visit friends and wait for John’s arrival
    H💚ME from Kuwait. Strawberry 🍓 Festival too!
    I do love 💕 a garden . Trading one climate for another, one plant 🪴 for another has been interesting 🤔. I love hydrangeas, blue ones. They seem to grow better on the East Coast, there is another blue flowering plant that I like that grows like crazy in California. A long stalk with a blue ball of flowers on top. I can’t remember the name. I also love hibiscuses 🌺
    Ivy Geraniums of course pink or red 🤔
    Make it an even 42 years, as 42 is the meaning of life! Eric told me that when I was 42. 😂

    Love & ox OXOX to all,

  25. Tracey Steele says:

    Beautiful memories. I adore the Shirley Temple peony, I have some in my own garden.

    I was thinking about you this morning as I was wandering around Hill Top. It was looking lovely!

  26. Emily says:

    Oh how my heart aches for you as I love that Island with all my heart and have since what feels like before time began. I know how leaving a beloved home there can feel like leaving a piece of your soul in the middle of the ocean but love your optimism and practicality! I sure will miss the monthly glimpses into life on the Vineyard. I think we all live vicariously through you and you paint it all so beautifully, literally and figuratively! But look forward to bigger doses of sunny Cali! My kids and I are counting down the days until our most treasured week of the year – our MV week – in July. I will be sure to walk by your house and toss it an air kiss with lots of love. It will not be the same on the Island knowing our favorite author/illustrator is not there. Suddenly my Martha’s Vineyard mug is even more sacred than before. As are all of my collected SB treasures from 20+ years of hoarding 😉 …knowing most were created on the best island in the World. Best best wishes on your new adventure, filled with wonder and safety, with your Loves!

  27. Nancy Goodell says:

    I would add ‘The Mortal Storm” to the list of movies to watch. It shows how a democratic country never thought their next leader would be capable of what he turned out to do. Walking towards it with their eyes half shut.

    Love all your photos and will miss you being in my neck of the woods. Wishing you, Joe and Jack all the very best!

  28. Kate Burroughs says:

    Yes, you can grow clematis in California. You have to plant warm tolerant peonies though. None of the cold tolerant ones will do well here, even if you throw ice cubes on them in the winter. Welcome home to California. Looking forward to you having events I can attend in California.

  29. PJ says:

    Ten years ago, we took a cross-country road trip to move from California to a farm in upstate New York. You will love seeing our beautiful country as you drive in the opposite direction. Happy Trails to you and Joe!

    • sbranch says:

      Joe and I have driven across country too many times to count and I could not agree with you more. We love it every time! Thank you PJ!

  30. Jane Franks says:

    Such a wonderful Willard!! You have covered so much of your magical life on the Vineyard. I am SOOO excited to watch the next chapter unfold. Looking forward to your “on the road” news as you travel West. My heart goes with you. Part of it! Part of my heart will always be here with Gene, wherever I go. For now I’m here. So happy for you and Joe that you can begin this next adventure together. Thank you so much for sharing every detail. xoxoxox

  31. Nan Rohan says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am beyond happy for you as you embark upon this next adventure, with Joe, of course and Jack. Your happy gene has been contagious and I’ve loved your books. My daughter loves them too. Vaya con Dios, Nan Rohan

  32. Nancy Kelley West says:

    Just wondering? I commented on May21, but my comment hasn’t been moderated? Did I do something wrong?

  33. Maria Mitchell says:

    Hi Susan

    It’s a lovely always to pass by here and read and to submerge myself in all the moments that you have had at Martha’s Vineyard is always so beautiful to read what you post but I am a bit lost. I are you moving?

    Love Maria

  34. Pat Harmon says:

    Oh, Susan, you are making me cry. 30 yrs ago I bought Christmas Joy First Edition 4th printing. I fell deeply in love with your art and heart beauty. I, too, feel homesick for your leaving such a lovely home, joyous for your wonderful memories, excited in anticipation for Willards from California. I was born in 1944 also. I know why the change to smaller but as good if not better and glad you are moving while you can make the decisions yourselves! You and Joe are such wonderful examples of a good marriage. Inspiration to the rest of us! May you have many happy years on the Golden Coast. Thank the Lord for you. May He keep you safe in your travels.

  35. Jeannie Taylor says:

    Safe travels back to California, the left coast.i was born and raised here. My parents made the move in 1954 from upstate New York. I have lived vicariously through you all these years. MV is on my bucket list to visit. My sister and I came to a book signing many moons ago at South Coast Plaza.

  36. Gayle says:

    Once again you touch my heart!
    Re: Memorial Day, have you read Good Night Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea? Based on his mother’s life, it is about women “Donut Dollies” in WWII. Darn good book.
    Re: We are the World, saw a segment on CBS Sunday Morning about the making of. They recorded it in one night!

  37. Luanne Simon says:

    Hi Susan,
    I am so sad to hear you are leaving the island. I felt as though I went into mourning after reading your May blog. Your reasons are certainly valid, but I always loved reading your blogs as you seem to capture all the seasons of this beautiful place. Is there any chance of getting a few books signed before you depart? If this is not possible, no worries. Moving is no easy task!

  38. Charmaine Potter says:

    I’m confused! I thought you sold your SLO house and moved to MV permanently. Did that change? Are you moving back to CA?

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, we are . . . it all got turned around in the last three willards… decided to keep California and sell this wonderful big house with the steep stairs where we’ve lived for the last 35 years. No answer is perfect, so we just picked the other one!

  39. Prue Ronneberg says:

    Oh Susan. It took me this long to garner up the nerve to read this Willlard because I knew it would make me cry. I’m not usually a cryer, But hey! I’ve grown alongside you. In Stride.! I have always said “I’m In stride with Ms. Branch. Many yrs
    Ago, When I was unpacking into our little House by the pond and the kids were outside on a swing, in walked Mary the cat whom I had never met. A stray! And she knew that was where she…. And we Belonged. Welcome! Just walked right in the open door as in sat on the floor unpacking.! Walked Right in, w her little “groucho” mustache, making an entrance. Such a calm sweet kitty letting me know all would be well. And all Will be well. It took awhile but she was right.! This is amazingly good news and busy hours of pack for you and Joe.
    Paint and plan and say farewell! The house looks perfect! You’ll be fine. We’ll follow you, I’m sure! Best of luck as the flower month slides by, dreamy and blowy, and always know this kindred spirit follows beside you both (all) as you travel west.
    This lovely path of discovery and gratitude. Xoxox Prue

    • sbranch says:

      Prue! That was beautiful . . . and just the way I feel . . . we have all been together for a long time. How I’ve loved it! And that’s not going away! I fee so inspired these days! xoxoxo

  40. Kit says:

    So exciting! I can’t wait to hear all about your new life. Safe travels! Take care. ❤

  41. Monica says:

    I have loved reading the Willards from Martha’s Vineyard but I look forward to reading them from the Central Coast. Why did you decide to move back to California? Was is it the weather? The snow?

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