New Beginnings

Finding the courage to take the next step

Posted October, 26, 2023 on Substack

Have you ever moved forward with something you’ve known you needed to do for forever?

Somehow, it’s never as simple as we think it should be! I know it wasn’t simple for getting this newsletter off the ground, but I am so happy to be able to say…

Welcome to the 1st RootStemLeaf newsletter! It’s a place to share ideas, news, and links that will help us all explore and deepen our relationship with nature. There are lots of benefits that come with spending time in nature, like increased mental and physical well-being, and I’ve been working for years trying to bring those benefits to people through landscape design.

So why start a newsletter? As a landscape architect, the impact of a design is usually limited to the people who actually use that space. My goal with this newsletter is to reach out to a wider audience, more people than I can usually engage with one on one, and explore ways we can all deepen our relationship with nature. Heck, I live on a farm surrounded by nature, and I still find myself putting my head down and thinking about work as I walk from my kitchen door to my office door. I have to remind myself sometimes to look at the forest and hills around me.

The newsletter will come out once a week and is organized around the five senses to encourage us all to explore our surroundings as a full sensory experience. That’s a good first step toward deepening our relationship with nature.

trees under cloudy sky during sunset
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Speaking of firsts, Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” was the first poem I consciously decided to memorize. I might have been 9 or 10; I don’t remember exactly. Why did I think it would be a good idea to memorize it? Because my big sister had done it, of course!Text within this block will maintain its original spacing when publishedNature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.

At the time, I got the gist of it, but I didn’t understand its depth. I knew it was about change, but mostly when I read it, I thought about the glory of nature’s drama, and though the poem seemed to be pointing me toward sadness that the drama had ended, my immediate thought was that it doesn’t need to be sad. Dawn will happen again tomorrow. As my dad would tell me, I was born an optimist.

There are a lot of firsts involved any time you start something new – like a brand-new newsletter – and it’s all looking fresh and sparkly to me as I learn how to put it together. Pretty soon it will settle into a routine, and the sparkle will subside, becoming the rubbed finish of well-used tools. But that’s how it should be. If everything was golden all the time, gold would become normal, and it wouldn’t seem special anymore.

closeup photography of red leaf plant
Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

Change is part of nature, even when it’s scary, and I’m coming to appreciate it just as much as the dramatic light of a sunrise, or the glorious colors of autumn gracing the hillsides around me as I write this. I’m blessed to live in a place where I can experience the benefits of nature just by walking out my door, and I look forward to sharing that joy with you each week.

Nature through the senses


green grass in close up photography
Photo by Zach Gilseth on Unsplash

Fall came late this year here in the mountains, and a good thunderstorm on Friday made for lovely walking this weekend through wet leaves. That scent people love after a rain is called petrichor, and it turns out it is caused by a substance called geosmin, created by a type of bacteria. Now that scientists have isolated it, what do you bet they’ll bottle and sell it?


Here’s one for all the plant lovers, like me, who get super excited when they find a new source for plants. It can be challenging to find a reliable source for native plants, so I was super excited this past week when I found out about You can search for the plants you want, and they list nurseries that have them, complete with container size and price. I foresee my future filled with a lot of figuring out where to put all the plants I just bought…


Sounds of nature can be a great way to help with relaxation. If you can’t make it out to the woods to sit by a creek and relax, I took a short video at the creek near my house. You may need to scroll down slightly – it’s on the home page of Hope it helps the next time you’re stuck inside but need a little time in the woods.


Depending on where you live, you may still have time to plant garlic and cabbage and any other Fall sowed crops you have in mind. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has an interactive calendar on their web site to figure out what can be planted now in your growing zone.

garlic bulb and garlic on white surface
Photo by Sanjay Dosajh on Unsplash


One of my favorite things about Fall is using a warm cup of tea to warm up my hands. (I don’t like being cold.) A little dried lemon balm adds variety to a cup of regular black tea. If you don’t grow it yet, it’s an easy addition to the herb garden.

white and brown ceramic mug
Photo by Drew Jemmett on Unsplash

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