Go Outside! My Autumn Office…

Tom has a poster in his study, hanging right over his computer.  It was created by Claire, and features a flower, a buzzing bee, and the words: “Daddy!  Go Outside!”  (Sometimes he accidentally gets stuck in the interweb…) Recently I heard myself think, “Glad it’s so damp and chilly, now I can stay in and write with less temptation to be outside.”  Until the weather turned, I’d been working outside often, notebook and pen in hand, in the grass, under a tree…As autumn settled in I would still take daily walks, visit the garden and chickens, but started doing most of my writing indoors.  Lately I’ve been fighting this common indoor-spiral.  After all, I’m writing a book about deepening the human connection with the close-to-home wild.  Why not be out in it as much as possible?  The air is cool, yes, but as they say at Wilderness Awareness School–“there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.”  So now, within reason, I’m moving my autumn office outside, into our backyard garden.

With a hat and a fire in the fire bowl,  I can be out with pen, paper, mixed feeding flocks of autumn birds, Esmeralada and all the other chickens, wind, weather, spiders, and–well, you get the idea.  And of course I am not above s’mores for lunch.

I knit the hat in the photo with scraps of yarn leftover from a sweater.  I like it, but Tom says it makes me look like the guys in the cartoon:

Akbar and Jeff from Simpsons creator Matt Groening's comic strip Life in Hell.

Ah, well.  In my Autumn Study I  find myself growing a deeper appreciation for the quiet fall garden.  We  have lots of arugula and other greens growing, carrots, broccoli–the usual northwest wintery fare.

I have a friend who will only plant veggies that promise a high ROI–Return On Investment!  Hence, only items that are pricey at the market are worth all the trouble–tomatoes, basil, fancy greens.  He has a point–gardening is not always cost-effective.  But even though onions are cheap, I went to Whitman College, and love growing these beautiful, tasty Walla Walla sweets:

Some of the beds are going to sleep for the winter.  When cleaning out the chicken coop, I layer the chicken-poopy nitrogen-rich coffee chaff we use as coop bedding directly on the garden.  It composts over the winter, and will be ready for spring tomatoes.

The garden might be soggy but this is, to my mind, the most beautiful of seasons, and I’m glad the impulse to rethink office space hit me.  Our internet reaches clear to the neighbor’s house, and this post was composed outside, by the fire.


  1. I just discovered your site today and as I read down the front page, the fact that you went to Whitman leapt out at me. It’s always such a treat to encounter a fellow Whittie, particularly one with similar interests. Love it!

  2. This was my justification for buying my wonderful iPad – so that I could sit outside and write. The problem is not the iPad, which is great, but the fact that once I’m outside, I find the birds and the sky and the sounds much more interesting than my writing…I’d rather look up and out than down!

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