Welcome to Peony Hill

Yesterday, as I was making fresh drop biscuits and gravy to go with Jay’s homemade sage and ginger sausage, I came up with the idea of naming our little homestead. It’s a tiny lot in a suburban neighborhood, but paradise is growing in three little trays that I planted last weekend. Okay, so it’s really lettuce, leeks, eggplant and peppers, but to us that’s paradise. My children love the idea of having food growing indoors that will eventually be planted outdoors.
So, back to the name. My daughter, Kiki, and I came up with Peony Hill. I tried thinking about what’s around our house and there are two peony plants in front. They belong to our neighbor, but they bloom so full and beautiful and they are right near the property line that I don’t think it matters who they really belong to. Do they really belong to any of us anyway? Peonies also has special comical meaning to me and my kids. I’ve written about it before, but on a trip home from an outing we happened to catch Donald Hall reading his poem “Weeds and Peonies” on the radio. The poem itself is a beautiful reflection on missing his wife Jane Kenyon, who died from cancer. In the poem, he talks about her peonies and expecting to see her coming in from a walk, but he comes to the sad realization that that won’t happen because she is gone. It’s a beautiful, beautiful poem, so we mean no disrespect. Still, peonies to an adolescent ear teeming with a mixture of innocence and discovery sounds an awful lot like another word. I suppose the fact that this adolescent ear is mostly deaf doesn’t help either. So, as Donald Hall read his lovely poem and my heart broke for him, all I heard from the back seat of my car was laughter and then Kiki said, “Penis. That’s funny.” I laughed, too, and I will never forget the beauty of that poem because of that moment. So, peony it is.
The hill part comes from the fact that our subdivision was built in a small valley and our house seems to be on a hill. Looking out our back window, or doorwall as we call it here in Michigan, I can look over the homes in back of us, so we are “hill.”
It’s early morning at Peony Hill. All is quiet. I’ve noticed the new leaves on the trees surrounding our house seem brighter green than in past years. Perhaps, it’s just because I’ve noticed them at all that they seem brighter green.
I hear the call of birds. Yes, that happens even here in the smallest of homesteads on a neighborhood street.
The two cats are curled up on either ends of the couch, perfect models of living in the present. The dog is sprawled out on the floor against the couch, her favorite spot.
Morning chores have been done. Yes, we have chores here at Peony Hill. Animals need feeding, clothes need laundering and seedlings need watering.
I did leave the homestead yesterday for a beginning fiction workshop that I taught through Community Arts of Tecumseh. Outside of giving my home life great attention, I love the act of writing, and I love the act of talking about writing with others eager to write. I did a bit of both in the three hours I spent with three fabulous new writers. I think what charged me up the most was seeing how they began to really see that writing is all about showing up at the page and letting go of fears and apprehensions about where the end product will go.
Well, it’s time to let this moment go.

Peace, love and stillness

2 thoughts on “Welcome to Peony Hill

  1. Linda Cassidy Lewis

    Thank you for sharing your lovely moment, Cristina. Terrific writing as usual.

    We’re a little ahead of you in the spring season and I was just outside taking photos of my roses and blooming citrus trees. It’s so fragrant, I just want to sit outside all day. The best I can do is open all the windows and invite spring inside.


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