Stop and smell the roses

autism

I was asked to participate in a blog hop with the aim of raising awareness about autism. I jumped at the chance to help share such an important cause. This year’s theme is the five senses – Sight, Hearing, Taste, Touch, Smell.

Please follow the blog hop, and you will be able to gather a lot of information about autism, as well as read some great posts by wonderful authors, who are also offering terrific prizes. I’m offering a giveaway at the end of this post.

Autism Fact

In Australia, a National 7 Senses Street Day is held every year – with streets designed to engage, excite and enhance all the senses so that the whole community can enjoy their neighbourhood – including people with autism.

Stop and Smell the Roses

IMG_2744How often do we take the beauty of our surroundings for granted? I know I’m guilty of running from one place to the next without pausing to enjoy the fresh air, to listen to the birds, and to admire the view. Next time you are heading outside, how about taking a few extra minutes to look up to the sky, or wander through the garden?

IMG_2751The garden is a place that really brings all the senses alive for me. There is the riot of beautiful colour, with various shades across the rainbow. It’s hard to resist bending over to smell the flowers and inhale their wonderful perfume. Touching is hard to resist too, and so many plants have wonderfully textured leaves – soft, smooth, spiky, hard – and collecting pine cones, and seed pods is so much fun.

My particular favourite are herbs and home grown vegetables. IMG_2753There is something magical in brushing past the lush basil bushes, and the rosemary, and having their scent waft through the air while picking bright red, and fragrant tomatoes from the vine… I’d better stop here as I’m starting to drool *smile*

IMG_2758If you don’t have room for a garden, perhaps a pot on the windowsill? The window where I sit to do my writing overlooks a huge grevillea tree (called Moonlight). It attracts a range of beautiful Australian Eastern Rosellas, King Parrots, and Rainbow Lorikeets. They make a hell of a noise but it’s wonderful to watch them take the nectar from the flowers.

A garden plays a role in my first novella. In It’s Not Easy, Ben is a landscape gardener. He works on bringing a garden back to life. The garden belongs to a elderly lady who has lost her husband, the love of her life. Ben wants her to be able to enjoy the memories of the times she and her husband spent in the garden, and while they chat, she shares with him some of her insights about lasting relationships. I’ve shared the excerpt below.IMG_2759 I hope you enjoy.

I do hope you take the time to appreciate the beauty around us, but also remember that not everyone experiences the world the same way. Click here to find out more about The 7 Senses Foundation and how you can participate.

By the way, the photos of the flowers are from my own garden. I’ve had to cheat and use photos taken last year. This is because it’s now autumn, and nothing much is in flower. I’ll be looking forward to spring.

Nic ❤

Excerpt from It’s Not Easy

The cool water felt wonderful running through his fingers, clean and crystal clear. There was nothing like reaching the end of the day and washing off the grime and filth of a hard day’s work. He’d toiled since just after dawn, determined to make an impact on the remainder of the garden, and it was now approaching late afternoon. He surveyed the results of his labor. The hedges, previously an overgrown tangle, were now tall and straight. The newly planted garden beds were ready to burst forth with growth. With a lot of clients, he kept costs down by using seedlings and less well-established plants, but Mrs. Jones said at her age she couldn’t afford to wait, so he had used more mature specimens. It would eat into his profits, but the result was impressive. Lush green shrubs—lilacs, rhododendron, star jasmine—and specially selected roses. Today, he had mulched all the beds, and all that remained was to lay the turf before doing the final hookup of the water feature.

Mrs. Jones came out of the house to admire the garden, and Ben couldn’t help the surge of pride as he saw the look of happiness that lit up her face.

“Ben,” she called. “I’ve brought us a cool drink. Come and sit in the shade.”

He took a seat on the bench beside her, and they both sipped the icy cold lemonade while they stared at the garden in silence. Finally, Mrs. Jones spoke. “My Carl and I used to sit out here in the evenings and watch the birds. It didn’t matter what time of year, there were always birds.”

“It’s why I chose some of the plants.” Ben explained the various plants and the birds that they would attract—combination of birds seeking safe haven in the branches and other seeking the sweet nectar of the flowers when in bloom. He was sure it would be a bird haven yet again.

Mrs. Jones spoke again. “It gives me so much happiness, Ben, that you have given Carl’s garden new life. I can almost imagine him here with me.”

“You must miss him a lot.”

“Oh yes, dear,” she answered. “He was my everything.”

“Tell me about him.” Ben didn’t get the feeling she would mind. In fact, he thought she would enjoy the opportunity to talk about Carl.

“We met at school. Childhood sweethearts we were. He asked me to the spring dance, and that was that, we never looked back. You know, we had forty-two wonderful years together before he was taken from me, and I feel blessed for each and every one.” She reached across and gripped Ben’s hand. “Do you want to know the secret to our happiness?”

“Of course,” Ben answered, partly to humor the lady, but partly because he really hoped she did know the true secret. She smiled at him.

“Friendship. That’s the key.” Ben nodded, encouraging her to continue. “You can have hearts and flowers. You can find good looks. You can find the person who is ideal on paper—the right job, the right social circle, the right financial situation—but none of that matters. You need to find that one person who can be the true friend to your heart. The person who will always put you first and love you unconditionally. No expectations, Ben. Carl never expected me to be anything other than who I am and his only concern was that I was happy in my heart. You know, his parents didn’t want us to be together. They didn’t think I was the right girl for him, wrong side of the tracks or something like that. But that didn’t stop my Carl. He loved me and I him, and he was my best friend right up until the end.”

She gave his hand another squeeze and took the now empty glass from his other hand before standing. “You know there’s someone just like that waiting for you.” She turned and walked back to the house, leaving Ben to contemplate her story.

He sat there for what seemed like an hour, mulling over her words before finally acknowledging something he had known all along—he couldn’t sacrifice his heart to Suzie when it already belonged to Spencer.

The cool water felt wonderful running through his fingers, clean and crystal clear. There was nothing like reaching the end of the day and washing off the grime and filth of a hard day’s work. He’d toiled since just after dawn, determined to make an impact on the remainder of the garden, and it was now approaching late afternoon. He surveyed the results of his labor. The hedges, previously an overgrown tangle, were now tall and straight. The newly planted garden beds were ready to burst forth with growth. With a lot of clients, he kept costs down by using seedlings and less well-established plants, but Mrs. Jones said at her age she couldn’t afford to wait, so he had used more mature specimens. It would eat into his profits, but the result was impressive. Lush green shrubs—lilacs, rhododendron, star jasmine—and specially selected roses. Today, he had mulched all the beds, and all that remained was to lay the turf before doing the final hookup of the water feature.

Mrs. Jones came out of the house to admire the garden, and Ben couldn’t help the surge of pride as he saw the look of happiness that lit up her face.

“Ben,” she called. “I’ve brought us a cool drink. Come and sit in the shade.”

He took a seat on the bench beside her, and they both sipped the icy cold lemonade while they stared at the garden in silence. Finally, Mrs. Jones spoke. “My Carl and I used to sit out here in the evenings and watch the birds. It didn’t matter what time of year, there were always birds.”

“It’s why I chose some of the plants.” Ben explained the various plants and the birds that they would attract—combination of birds seeking safe haven in the branches and other seeking the sweet nectar of the flowers when in bloom. He was sure it would be a bird haven yet again.

Mrs. Jones spoke again. “It gives me so much happiness, Ben, that you have given Carl’s garden new life. I can almost imagine him here with me.”

“You must miss him a lot.”

“Oh yes, dear,” she answered. “He was my everything.”

“Tell me about him.” Ben didn’t get the feeling she would mind. In fact, he thought she would enjoy the opportunity to talk about Carl.

“We met at school. Childhood sweethearts we were. He asked me to the spring dance, and that was that, we never looked back. You know, we had forty-two wonderful years together before he was taken from me, and I feel blessed for each and every one.” She reached across and gripped Ben’s hand. “Do you want to know the secret to our happiness?”

“Of course,” Ben answered, partly to humor the lady, but partly because he really hoped she did know the true secret. She smiled at him.

“Friendship. That’s the key.” Ben nodded, encouraging her to continue. “You can have hearts and flowers. You can find good looks. You can find the person who is ideal on paper—the right job, the right social circle, the right financial situation—but none of that matters. You need to find that one person who can be the true friend to your heart. The person who will always put you first and love you unconditionally. No expectations, Ben. Carl never expected me to be anything other than who I am and his only concern was that I was happy in my heart. You know, his parents didn’t want us to be together. They didn’t think I was the right girl for him, wrong side of the tracks or something like that. But that didn’t stop my Carl. He loved me and I him, and he was my best friend right up until the end.”

She gave his hand another squeeze and took the now empty glass from his other hand before standing. “You know there’s someone just like that waiting for you.” She turned and walked back to the house, leaving Ben to contemplate her story.

He sat there for what seemed like an hour, mulling over her words before finally acknowledging something he had known all along—he couldn’t sacrifice his heart to Suzie when it already belonged to Spencer.

Praise for It’s Not Easy

ItsNotEasy_postcard_front_DSP“I enjoyed reading It’s Not Easy. It was well written and flowed easily. The characters were well-developed and easy to connect with. Ben and Spence were both sweet and I was happy to see them finally admit what they truly wanted. I loved how the secondary characters supported the main characters. I am looking forward to reading more books written by the author in the future.” 9/10 from Rainbow Gold Reviews

“…if you’re looking for a quick read with two really likable characters, then add this one to your list.” 4 stars from Joyfully Jay

“It is a story about getting to learn about one’s self, finding out some truths, accepting said truths and finally taking that final step to do something to be happy. There is angst, there is drama, but nothing overly done to get the reader frustrated. Light read as it is, the emotions run true and real.” 5 stars from Multitasking Momma

Giveaway

If you’d like to win an eBook copy of It’s Not Easy, just leave a comment on this post, telling me your favourite way to enjoy the great outdoors. I’ll draw a random winner on 13th April (Sydney time).

Buy Links

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

All Romance eBooks

Barnes & Noble 

Participating Authors

Check out RJ Scott’s blog to get the links. Click here

April      Name

1              RJ Scott

2              Marie Sexton

3              Liam Livings

4              Nic Starr

5              Amber Kell

6              H.K Carlton

7              NR Walker

8              Catherine Lievens

9              Lillian Francis

10           Lexi Ander

11           Jambrea Jo Jones

12           AKM Miles

13           S.A. Meade

14           Cate Ashwood

15           JL Merrow

16           Beany Sparks

17           Sue Brown

18           Nancy Adams

19           Eli Easton

20           Garrett Leigh

21           Devon Rhodes

22           Carter Quinn

23           Joanna Chambers

24           Charlie Cochet

25           Clare London

26           Jay Northcote

27           Charlie Cochrane

28           Amy Lane

29           Jaime Reese

30           Chris Quinton

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11 thoughts on “Stop and smell the roses

  1. I’m not really an outdoorsy one… so I guess my favorite way to enjoy the great outdoor would be surrounded by dear friends or family 😉

  2. I like to hike. I used to have a camel backpack and tackle the rougher trails in our local state park (I’m in Pennsylvania, USA) that wove through the mountains. I’d spend an entire weekend walking, climbing, slip-sliding in small waterfalls, racking up miles in my boots. Back problems ended that for me, at least the climbing parts, but I still enjoy the flatter, easier trails, especially the one that is full of ferns beneath towering deciduous trees, and passes the ruins of a farm. It’s like being in another world, an escape from everything, and a reminder of what is important. If only my son wasn’t so addicted to the screens of electronic devices and had more patience, I’d take him along. With his Asperger’s Syndrome, it’s simply not possible. Not yet, anyway. Thank you for your post and helping to raise awareness about Autism, and generously offering a prize. Remembering those hikes is my prize, so I appreciate your post.

  3. I am not all that outdoorsy, but when I go out, I do prefer going to a jungle trail than the beach. It’s so much calmer there, you can actually get in touch with nature, at least that’s how it happens here in my country. 🙂

  4. I love to walk up through the bushland to Fingal Headland and sit and watch the dolphins ans surfers off Dreamtime beach. During the humpback migration season I often see them breaching out near Cook Island. It’s truly my happy place 🙂

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