You’d Be

My parents have a garden, a sort-of hidden garden, a sort-of other world tucked behind their rather normal-looking split-level house in a rather normal-looking small town neighborhood. And every summer when I pack up to go visit them, I daydream about that garden, about myself sitting in it with a cup of coffee, about the birds and the bunnies and the chipmunks and yes, even squirrels, who will be busy all around me.

Or I remember this moment from last summer, the light on my girl’s golden hair, my mind gently rocking with the rhythm of her swinging, and yes, even my boy begging me to be done with my coffee break.

Sitting in the garden this summer, in the same spot where I recorded that little video last summer, I wrote the first few lines of what became my song for week 34 of #songaweek2016, which you can hear here:

You’d be swinging with the breeze
shaded by the breathing leaves
if you were the garden’s child
drowsy as the birds and bees

you’d be singing newborn songs
with the water swept along
if you were the river’s child
you’d be flowing ever on

you’d be life you’d be breath
you’d be sleep and dreams and death
peals of laughter pools of tears
flights of joy and jolts of fear

you’d be climbing on the bones
of a long-forgotten poem
if you were the mountain’s child
patient as the ancient stone

you’d be diving in the dark
far beneath the crowded ark
if you were the ocean’s child
throbbing siren, silent shark

you’d be light you’d be sound
you’d be caverns underground
ceaseless waves of navy blue
reaching for receding moon

Could This Be Happily?

A little dreamy ode to the simple life, here’s my song for week 33 of #songaweek2016. With Nathan Bloom on harmonica. Would’ve loved to add more instruments and fill it out a bit, but it was an extra busy week with a real live gig and kids going back to school. (That toddly baby in the picture is now a tall, soccer-playing fourth grader!)

There would be raspberries in our little yard
the sun would shine all the time
except when the rain came to help our garden grow
then we’d be snug inside

could every day be like a holiday?
could this be happily? (ever after)

We’d keep some chickens in a little coop
we’d thank them for the eggs
maybe a baby, maybe two
toddling on wobbly legs

some nights there might be tears on our pillows
some dreams just won’t come true
but all these broken parts of our hearts
make spaces for the light and air and rivers to flow through

out on our front porch we’d pass the evening hours
watching the branches sway
We’d smile at neighbors and strangers passing by
until we call it a day


Places I’ve Lived, People I’ve Known

Oh I wish you all could have been there last Friday night! Music in the garden at my parents’ house in Minnesota. It was a hot and sticky evening but we had so much fun. My dad used his phone to record Nathan and me and my parents’ neighbor Earl playing the song I wrote for week 29 of #songaweek2016.

Wish we had also recorded a song we did later, with us three plus friend Kirk on accordion and brother-in-love Micah on a second guitar – Purple Rain by Prince. Bet you’ve never heard Purple Rain with accordion before!

Driving down the street with my out-of-state plates
feeling newly out of place
looking at the flowers in my old front yard
and remembering my life lived in that space
home is not a dead-end road
the road home leads you back or leads you on

Places I’ve lived, people I’ve known
everything’s changed, everyone’s grown
how was this ever everything,
how can I ever go home?

Running through the park on my middle-aged legs
going faster than before
stopping for a drink at the Mineral Springs
where the legend says the healing waters pour
home is not a stagnant pool
the river home will take you where it will

Places I’ve lived, people I’ve known
everyone’s changed, everything’s grown
how was this ever everything
how can I ever go home?

the sun still comes up, the dogs still bark
the kids still play in the same old parks
the old men still park themselves out front
but they’re not the same old men

Sleeping tonight in my old bedroom
where the shadows know my name
praying for peace with a jaded tongue
dreaming with the heart of a child I’ll never tame
home is not a prison cell
the doors of home can open either way

Places we’ve lived, people we’ve known
we have all changed, we have all grown
how can anything be everything,
how can we ever go home?

One Year in a Minnesota Prairie Town

This is a cycle of poems I wrote while living in my hometown of Owatonna, Minnesota, a few years ago. Today, a snowy gray day in February (my least favorite month, even here in my new town in Colorado), I found myself thinking of the winter poems here, and hoping in the spring and summer – thankful for the continuing growth and change of seasons.

One Year in a Minnesota Prairie Town

Early Winter

George MacDonald said

“Winter is only a spring too weak and feeble for us to see that it is living.”

So where is the end of the year?

The seasons, like space,

Appear to have no boundaries

But, turning and turning,

Move all life along some invisible thread.

Mid Winter

I almost forgot

And nearly remembered

In between sleeps

Late Winter

Hoary white

Frozen forgetting

Pewter-skied afternoon.

A filmy burning eye

Distant low

Blurs unfeelingly

To darkness.


Embryos stir

Ever so slightly


Early Spring

Before departure

The snow expands

To jagged chunks of salt and sand.

When it recedes

Instead of seashells

We find

Trash and lost things.

Mid Spring

There’s an afternoon time and a garden place

Where the sun warms me well


The sun,

And you –

Peeking up at me

Poking through soil

Perennial but new.

Late Spring

Might be the last morning this yellow-haired girl

Pushes this primary-blue baby doll stroller

Might be the last day she calls this woman mommy

Buds and branches

Are opening to flowers.

Blossoms and baby fat

Are ripening to fruit.

Early Summer

Now the serpent was subtle

The woman was stupid

The man was absent

And that’s how the world went to hell

They told me.


In the sunlight

All the colors weave a mothering warmth

I believe I’m being born again

Don’t tell them.

Mid Summer



In the garden

She is not holy,

She is living.

Late Summer

Late summer is ragtime

The ragweed is a woody-stemmed shrub

The flowers sprawl in their raggedy gardens

The air is ragged with rasping cicadas

What was delight in spring

Sweet satisfaction at mid-summer

Now is overkill

A glaring beauty with too much makeup

Overpowering perfume

Gaudy clothes

And weary eyes.

If it didn’t all fall down

And sleep a while

Life would never last.

Early Autumn

Come in, come in.

Time to wash

And undress

Time to fire up the stove

Simmer down slow

Time for your bath.

All summer

You’ve been out in the sun

And the rain and the wind

Now it’s time to come in

Time to snuggle down

In your jar in the pantry.

Mid Autumn




Let fading leaves fade

Let dying light die

Embrace this moment

Though it chills and darkens everything.

If you hold the fire of summer’s sun

In the pit of your soul

You’ll survive

Till it warms your face again.

Late Autumn

This is where we have trouble with names.

Beyond the harvest holiday

We sing of jingle bells

Demand snowflakes.

Autumn shrugs, sighs

And leaves the room.

Some Soil

He spoke in a parable. He said

Some soil is just about dead

Walked over and worn out

Impervious to seeds,

A feeding trough for birds.


Some soil is stony:

Seeds sprout quickly,

Sprouts stretch to sun,

Sun scorches leaves,

Plant withers and dies.

No roots, he explained.


Some soil is preoccupied

Crowded with seeds of stubborn stock

That choke anything fresh

Before it can flower.


Some soil is just right

(To quote a golden-haired girl),

A dark loamy bed

Where seed bursts open in eager love,

Dying with life-force;

And soil honors seed’s sacrifice

Faithfully nurturing newborn sprout.


The seeds

I have gathered

Don’t come in uniform packets

Stamped with precise planting instructions.

They are scattered grains of life

Sown from everywhere:

Love letters and report cards, ocean waves and office buildings,

Toddlers’ tantrums, neighbors’ gossip,

Even radio talk shows and preachers’ sermons.


I have also

Discovered the soil

Doesn’t come in a bag

Purchased with indulgences and poured into the soul.

The best soil is made of wasted moments:

The garbage and leftovers of everyday life,

Piled in the back of the mind to rot,

Food for tiny creeping thoughts who give it back changed

Breaking up stony places

Crumbling softening

Light loose reborn

Hungry and thirsty for righteousness

A good place to put down roots.


It’s late spring in Minnesota. That’s why this blog has a bit of the echoing sound of summertime school halls right now. I’m outside whenever I can be. I admit that I worship the sun. I finished this poem from a pouty roost at the coffeeshop yesterday while it was raining.

by Julia Tindall Bloom 5/25/11

Perennial means forever.
I remember this each spring,
When the bleeding heart comes all quick and tumbling out of the bare ground,
Lines of tiny pink and white clowns
Pouring out of a celery-stem car.
Plants, unlike people, do not age.
I ponder this
As I survey my wrinkling skin,
My gathering cellulite,
As I pull on my first pair of shorts
In this new spring,
And I wonder about resurrection.
It is inarguable that we animals
Rise again as plants.
Is that all?

Winter Gardening

Under the snow is buried treasure.

Breathing cold quiet sterile air, I remember that in the ground are the hearts of the plants I happily nurture during the warmer months. I see the past and also the potential. Winter is the canvas for my gardening dreams, which makes this season precious. The work of the dreaming season is to build the desire that fuels the hard work of the growing season.

I remember where everything grew, and I recall my dreams of last winter. Some of them I carried out in the growing season, some changed shape, some were discarded, some set aside for another year. Now I file through the ones set aside. I reimagine the landscape, fill it in with memories and dreams.

Standing there in the quiet and the white, anything is possible. The sky is the limit in this moment when I need no money, no time, no muscle or tools to do the work that’s needed – the dreaming.

Surprised by Jack

fairy luI live in a fairy forest. It’s a minuscule woodland, and I am its caretaker, while my five-year-old Luthien fancies herself its fairy princess.

As the keeper of the itsy-bitsy forest (comprised of three towering evergreens and the woodsy floor beneath them in my front yard), I have been busy planting shrubs and perennials purported to enjoy such a shady, piny spot. I’ve also, of course, been occupied with pulling up weeds to make space for those plants and manage the appearance of my garden-forest.

My gardening style is a bit wilder than the wood-chip-mulched norm. I rarely rake the pine needles or remove pinecones, and to remove weeds, I use my hands rather than a spray bottle. My definition of weeds is rather loose. The clover and the violets and the purple-blooming creeping Charlie, even the dandelions and the plantain are all possible keepers in my gardens, depending on their placement. It’s like sculpting – in one place, that dandelion needs to go, but somewhere else, it fits just right.

This morning while the kids perched on the neighbors’ steps to watch some city employees trim trees on the boulevard, I sculpted (i.e. weeded) my forest gardens. And to my delight, I discovered a new Jack-in-the-pulpit volunteer! It’s the third one I’ve found in the gardens, none of which I planted. I’ve also discovered catnip and milkweed volunteering in ideal spots in my gardens, and this spring a shrub I had left alone the last couple years, not sure what it was or where it had come from, opened for the first time into delicate white blossoms, revealing itself to be a honeysuckle.

Had I been overly ambitious to eradicate weeds and mulch thoroughly, I wouldn’t enjoy such surprises. While I am happily the keeper of the fairy forest, I recognize it lives and breathes and produces beauty with or without me; and it’s a joy to work with it rather than reign over it.

So bring on the Jacks. May their tribe increase. And I’ll be happy to kneel in my gardens, take my time pulling weeds here and there, and enjoy those moments revelling in the wild beauty of my fairy forest.