Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Transplanted Writer

We really are what we eat—and not just in the usual way suggested.

Yesterday I transplanted a dozen or so baby golden turnip starts from a recycled pony pack into my vegetable garden. I’d been careful to sow just two or, at most, three round little seeds into each of the linked soft-plastic receptacles, reasoning that not all of them would germinate. And yet all of them did, and I was faced with the delicate job of untangling the roots that had intermingled in each crumbling cube of soil I popped out of the pack.

So it is when we transplant ourselves from one place to another.

Disentangling ourselves from the familiar mesh of everyday life as we’ve known it is a terribly tricky operation. Having the confidence to believe that we’ll find a nurturing environment in the cold soil of an unknown place is an act of hubris and faith.

Two summers ago, after over 30 years of living in the East Bay, I moved to the Wine Country of Northern California to start a new life. My son was about to leave for college. I was embarking on a shared life after having been single since just before my son started kindergarten.

I had no idea how tangled my roots were in the lively, urban, multi-ethnic soil of the Bay Area. Suddenly the bicycle I used to ride every day to little markets and the outdoor cafes where I did so much of my writing was gathering cobwebs. The dance classes, so abundant in Berkeley, were nothing more than rumors here. I used to see my neighbors every day on my way in and out of my little Craftsman bungalow. Here the people who live on nearby properties wave to me sometimes, as I’m out working in the garden. But mostly, it seems, people don’t really know each other so much as they know of each other—and all of us keep our distance.

I worked hard to cure myself of the crushing sense of loneliness I felt when Wayne was in the City all day and all evening, rehearsing and performing with his community of 100 colleagues while I was here with my own solitary work and the cat.

Well, it has been nearly two years and I’ve begun to find my feet here. I’m a regular now at two dance classes that feature live drummers. The local NPR station, KRCB, has asked me to start doing some on-air book reviews. And, loveliest of all, I’ve made some friends.

It’s hard, when one has been planted in the same pot for a very long time. In fact, it’s terrifying to have all one’s most vulnerable needs exposed to light in that endless-seeming moment of transition. Will I thrive again? Will all my leaves fall off first? Will I ever manage to blossom here?

Happily, I can answer, Yes!


  1. Hello Barbara, I too have just moved house and I am now settling in to a different place. I will try not to take old friends for granted and to make some new connections.Your post has cheered me on, thanks!

  2. Thanks for stopping by by blog, Deborah! I hope the spring has unfurled many flowers for you. Now that I'm home from my travels, I'm realizing how very much at home I've begun to feel here. As I get older, I'm learning that all the best things require patience (never my strong suit!).

    Warmest wishes,


Barbara Quick, Vivaldi's Virgins Book Signing

Barbara Quick, Vivaldi's Virgins Book Signing
Barbara Quick

My Garden

My Garden
My flower and strawberry garden (bathtub view)