Vagabond Gardeners by Barb Hendee

When I was about twelve years old, my grandmother told me that she felt sorry for people who moved from one house or place to a new house or place in order try and leave their problems behind.

“The problems always follow them anyway,” she said.

Later, once I was old enough to understand this, it seemed to me that if negative things can follow us around, then so should all the positives. I’m one of those people who prefers to see the positive. If my partner, J.C., and I were characters from Winne-the-Pooh’s world, I’d be Tigger and he’d be Eeyore.

He and I have been married a long time. We’re sort of serial vagabonds… a pair of writers and academics who tend to live for five or six years in one place, making it into a home, and then we go somewhere else and make that place into a home. We’ve lived in Washington State, Northern Idaho, Colorado, and now Oregon.

But no matter where we’ve lived or how much (or how little) space we have outside the house or condo, we’ve always gone to work right away preparing and conditioning the soil so that we can grow our own fruits and vegetables. We always leave four to six blueberry bushes for the next people who will live in the space we’ve left behind. I think it’s a good motto to always leave blueberries for the next folks.

Not too long ago, when we lived in the Willamette valley, we created a forty-foot vegetable garden and we planted a small orchard.

Three years ago, a combination of life and a teaching position for me prompted us to sell our house in the valley, pack up our two beloved office cats, and buy a small townhouse on the south edge of Portland. One of the reasons we bought this place is because it had a private fenced yard with a deck and some open ground. Unfortunately, the people who owned this place before us had covered every square inch of open ground with rocks. Seriously. Rocks.

We spent about a month hauling out rocks in a wheelbarrow, and then we went to work prepping the soil. We put in four blueberry bushes, a strawberry patch, and a rose bush. We now grow potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots and sugar snap peas. This area is also a safe space for the beloved office cats if they feel the need to get outside for a while.

I’ve come to especially love this little garden, and I’m thinking we might stay here for many years. But if not, we’ll leave blueberries, strawberries, and roses for whoever comes behind us.

Kara, as a ward with no parentage and no future, has been raised knowing nothing outside her lady’s chambers. Until Royce Capello, a visiting nobleman, is struck by her ice-pale looks, and demands her as payment for the land the family needs.

With barely time to protest, Kara is sold and packed off for a life as a concubine—until a raiding party descends on Royce’s company and she’s kidnapped for the second time in as many days.

Whatever happens, Kara will be alone in the world, inexperienced and fearing even the vast unfamiliar sky. But one raider gives her a choice—and a magic mirror appears to show her where each path will lead…

~She can leave with her protector Raven and journey with his performing troupe, competing for his mercurial affections.

~She can flee the raiders’ settlement, and return to Royce’s manor, chattel among devious nobility.

~Or she can stay in the settlement, bound to firm, silent Caine, who is as gentle as he is staid and inscrutable.

Her fates twist and turn to affect far more than she could have guessed, tangling the bitter with the sweet—and Kara must choose which consequences she can live with…

A Girl Of White Winter

New York Times bestselling author Barb Hendee reveals a hidden world where the twists and turns of one woman’s path will be determined by a crucial choice . . .