Five + Five

Labor Day is behind us.  My neighbor’s tree (admittedly, always the first to turn) is shedding its leaves. It’s time to start wearing socks again. There is no denying it–fall is here.

Before turning the page on summer, I’d like to do a 5 + 5 exercise: Five things that made me happy this past summer, five things I’m anticipating this fall. In the comments, I’d love to hear about what you treasured about the season just past and what you’re looking forward to as we edge toward winter.


1. Ocean Swimming.  I love the bite of frigid water on my toes, the briny water, clear and mysterious at the same time, the ritual swish of my hands in the cold ocean to get my heart ready for the immersive plunge. Swimming in the ocean makes me feel like a kid again, blue-lipped and still eager to ride one more wave. We swam a lot this summer and every single dip brought me joy.

A favorite beach, where the sun is warm, the water is clear and all of the dips are invigorating.

2. Blueberries. Pies. Tarts. Crumbles. Smoothies. In morning cereal. In nightly salads. A handful for a snack. We made sure to tuck some away in the freezer for Sunday morning pancakes when the snow is falling.

3. Hearing Live Music. We heard wonderful Bach programs at Etz Chaim Synagogue in Portland and the Congregational Church in Blue Hill (the Bach Virtuosi Festival and Blue Hill Bach, respectively) and superb Cape Breton fiddling by Andrea Beaton and Troy MacGillivray at the TEIA clubhouse on Peaks Island. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.

4. Produce from our garden. We did battle with a voracious groundhog early in the summer. One night he or she wiped out an entire raised bed of salad greens and chard and ate the zinnias for dessert.

Zinneas (2)

Groundhog got ’em

We armored up the garden fence and eventually fought our nemesis to a draw.

Now the chard is back,  the basil has been turned into pesto, the cukes are abundant and we’re loving the gorgeous tomatoes now that it’s September and they’re ripening to beat the band.

Finally, lusciousness on the vine.

5.  Focused writing.  My current work-in-progress demanded a long period of uninterrupted time to immerse myself in my characters’ world and bring their current adventure to a satisfying end. I wrote and wrote and wrote some more when we were away for a couple of weeks. The first draft of the book is now finished and the initial revision is under way. I cannot predict what will happen with this one. None of us ever know. All a writer can control is the writing, and I was happy to have time this summer to dive in and stay in, until my lips were blue.


1. More Swimming.  The ocean does not cool down just because the calendar says September. There will be warm afternoons yet and the beaches will be uncrowded. Fresh water swimming isn’t my first choice, but we’ve swum at our favorite Sebago Lake spot on Columbus Day in the past, so nope, the bathing suit is not even close to being packed away.

2. Foliage.  I have lived in New England my entire life and the changing colors do not get old. This year we’re headed to Bar Harbor the weekend of October 18 and 19 for the Murder By The Book conference at the amazing Jesup Memorial Library. FMI:

I’m sure we’ll see some lovely foliage on that jaunt, and hope we also get over to Western Maine to Height of Land and some of the other scenic vistas in Kathy Lynn Emerson’s neck of the woods.

Soon it will be showtime.

3. Reading the New Releases.  In addition to our own Dick Cass, whose fourth Elder Darrow mystery LAST CALL AT THE ESPOSITO launches on September 15, I’m looking forward to a slew of fabulous fall releases.

Edwin Hill was in Maine last week talking about his new Hester Thursby novel, THE MISSING ONES. I’m also eager to devour Laura Lippman’s LADY IN THE LAKE, Adrian McKinty’s THE CHAIN, Louise Penny’s A BETTER MAN and THE LONG CALL, the first in a new series by the brilliant Ann Cleeves.

Eager to read the new titles much?

4. Writing Conferences and Events. In addition to Murder By The Book in Bar Harbor, the calendar is filled with other opportunities to hang out and hobnob with Maine crime writers.

This coming Friday, Julia Spencer-Fleming (who will have a new book out this spring, people!) Dick Cass (who has a new book out this month, people!) and I (who, as noted above, has finished the first draft of a new book recently!) will be reading at Quiet City Books in Lewiston, a crime writer trifecta that starts at 6 p.m. Here’s the link for more info:

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 29, Dick Cass, Kate Flora and I will be at Cape Elizabeth’s Thomas Memorial Library, building a mystery with the help of the audience.

On Thursday, November 14 Bruce Coffin and Jen Blood will be reading at Books in the ‘Brook at Walker Memorial Library in Westbrook at 6 p.m.

The weekend of November 8 – 10, I’ll be with most of the Maine crime writers at New England Crime Bake in Woburn, Massachusetts, where none other than Ann Cleeves will be Guest of Honor.

5. Revising, revising and revising some more. My beloved Red Sox are likely not going deep into the post-season, if they get there at all, so my evenings and weekends will be free from distraction for the most part. I’ve got my head down and my pencils sharpened. Revisions, here I come.

Readers: What were the highlights of your summer? What are you excited about now that fall is here? What books are you looking forward to reading?

Brenda Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available everywhere e-books are sold. These days she’s hard at work on new projects. FMI:

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13 Responses to Five + Five

  1. Ann says:

    Summer highlights were spending time with my grandchildren. They are all growing up so fast! I am looking forward to fall (November particularly) as I will be moving to Maine.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Swimming in the sea, lobster, cloud watching, catching up with friends, visiting Maine libraries. For fall? Walks in the crisp air, my fall flowers including a huge patch of anemone, ginger gold apples, fall colors, finally finishing a book.


  3. Our very smooth move, another week in Washington County, the completed (as of yesterday) back yard clean-up, tons of new books to read and the freedom to wake up most mornings with nothing pressing on the schedule.

  4. Glad the back yard clean up is done, John. That last one takes the prize though!

  5. daveplimpton says:

    Good luck, Brenda, on your new project. Look forward to hearing more about it, as I enjoyed the Joe Gale mysteries. Got a fiction piece published in Evening Street Review and now back to trying to get my novel published, as to which your comments on the beginning helped immensely.

    Reading Susan Abuldawa’s “The Blue Between Sky and Water”,(2015), frankly one of the best written novels I’ve read in a long time.

  6. crys101497 says:

    Not going to list 5 things, but will list a few. Best part of this summer was going to Jamestown with my 13 year old son. We have been planning to go for 4 years. This spring my aunt and uncle bought us a reliable car so we’re able to go this summer. When my son went with school 4 years ago it was November so we really enjoyed going on my birthday, July 20th. Fall I am looking forward to taking my son to a high school football game at the high school I went to in Hanover County, Virginia. Need to check the schedule but think that would be a great mom/son experience.

  7. I’ve never been to Jamestown but I love history, so it’s on my list. Have fun at the football game – that does sound like the ideal mom/son event. Thanks for checking in.

  8. Janice Asher says:

    What a great essay! Are you an optimist or something? You didn’t even curse out the groundhog!

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