Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Farm

A Lavenderly Writing Experience


IMG_7397 (2)The world news was infused with negative stories and my kitchen had dust galore as men tore down one of its walls. I could not be happier to leave this chaos and the news behind and transport myself to the Detroit Working Writers Boot Camp which was hosted at the home of author, gardener, educator, and my great mentor Iris Underwood. Her home being in an organic lavender farm, I knew I was in for a treat.

Within half-an-hour, I was out of the city noise, driving through unpaved roads of a small town that still has a post office that has been in operation since 1884. I found the home tucked amongst a thick silence, with the only sounds coming from the rustling tree leaves and the bees over the flowers. I walked around the house and down a hill of green pastures to where the writers gathered outside. They sat on large wooden bench tables under a large canopy and were surrounded by lavender plants.

Author Cynthia Harrison led the workshop, discussing Character, Conflict, and Setting in a most vivid, humorous, and loving way. She shared her experience of when one day, shortly after she got married, there was a storm in the 1970s that flooded her basement, where a box of her notebooks was stored. Needless to say, her poetry and other writings were drenched and, for the most part, disintegrated. While at that moment she reflected on her career, her then husband wanted to know, “What’s for dinner?”

She brought us much laughter and inspiration to write from the heart. We later enjoyed a delicious lunch of salad, lavender scones and lavender brownies. We took a tour of the farm. I visited the little building with a yellow door and sign that read “Girls Only” and found it was occupied by four pretty healthy hens. We were offered scissors to clip the lavender plants and take some home. We then sat beneath another canopy where two musicians sang country songs while playing the mandolin and guitar.

Iris started this farm because lavender had healed her in several ways. Lavender oil is known to reduce anxiety and emotional stress, heal burns and wounds, improve sleep, restore skin complexion and reduce acne, alleviate headaches, slow aging with powerful antioxidants, and has many other beneficial effects. No wonder I walked out of her property feeling like I’ve just walked out of a therapeutic, a magical, bath.

Oh Deer!


When my friend Linda was a little girl, she loved spending time in her grandmother’s farm in Michigan. She helped out a lot by going out in the field to feed the cows and pigs. These days, she’s feeding deer in her backyard – ten deer to be exact. She fills a five-gallon bucket with apples, carrots, sweet beets and corn and leaves it out at night for the deer to eat. She sent me pictures of her new pets – she already has two dogs, and other animals like bunnies and squirrels that have the tendency of visiting her home for food.

Linda’s desire to feed others is not restricted only to animals. She cooks and bakes for family members, co-workers and friends. The other day she came over with a large bowl of spinach salad, a tupper wear of tomato rice soup, another tupper wear of egg salad and a bottle of wine. Imagine what you get when you end up at her house! She’s full of that authentic and rare hospitality that is still present in the hearts of the Arab Bedouins, the type that many people have surrendered away for being busy bodies. And yet, she is not a Bedouin but of German and Irish heritage. And she is one hell of a busy woman! She just knows how to give – give simply and fully.