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Perfect Weekend

On crisp autumn days when I was a little girl, my mother often sang a song with the following lines:

Oh sun and skies and clouds of June

And flowers of June together

You cannot rival for one short hour

October’s bright blue weather

 

I found myself singing it this weekend, which seemed to stretch endlessly and beautifully, bright and blue and warm and gentle, the perfect goodbye for fall.

 

We worked hard and played hard – finished cleaning the garage, got the flower beds tucked in for winter, made at least a dent in the never-ending oak leaves, and finished our afternoon with a long walk along our favorite riverside trail, where the low water level and slower flow caused by a stretch of dry weather meant the usually brown and muddy river perfectly reflected the bright October sky.

 

I know winter’s coming (and I’ve got nothing against June and its flowers, either), but I love nothing better than a bright October weekend and I’m grateful for the gift.

 

Sweet Weekend

This weekend we went to visit friends in Western Iowa we hadn’t seen for a long time. Iowa is crossed by two major interstate highways – but they weren’t much use getting from our house to theirs. After a brief stretch whizzing by the landscape headed south on I-35, we turned west on two-lane roads for the remaining three plus hours of our travels. Externally enforced relaxation. Fifty-five miles an hour at best, and we’re in the middle of fall harvest, with extra-wide farm equipment possibly over the next hill or around the next turn in the road to slow us down even more.

And for that, I am grateful. Most people think of Iowa (if they think about it at all) as monotonously flat and populated by cornfields. Speeding through Iowa on I-80 to get to somewhere more important, it’s easy to get that impression. We were travelling towards the Missouri River and into one of the most unique geological formations on our continent – the Loess Hills. Barely an hour after leaving I-35 we entered a rolling, golden landscape with terraced fields of corn and soybeans, large combines gathering in the grain, a dusky haze of harvest dust hanging over all in the late afternoon sun. A restorative, relaxing drive through a stunning slice of America’s heartland.

I wish I’d taken pictures. I scoured the web this morning to find some that aren’t copyrighted, but I didn’t succeed, so I’ll tell you where to go for visuals and more insight into this beautiful part of our country:

Caldeira & Co.’s photostream on Flikr has the largest collection of Loess Hills harvest photos, many that look like they could have been taken anywhere across the last hour of our trek west:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=loess+Hills&w=13658692%40N05&ss=2&s=rec

The Nature Conservancy (to which we contribute) is gradually acquiring lands and working to preserve the unique Loess Hills heritage, described here:

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/iowa/placesweprotect/the-loess-region.xml

We’ll bring you more of this landscape in some upcoming WIP’s we’ve chosen to set in Iowa’s prairie country (and you can bet we’ll spice them up with lots of tantalizing erotic moments). And oh, yes, we did have a lovely visit reconnecting with our friends. A sweet weekend, at a much slower speed than we typically live our lives. I highly recommend it!

 

Finally, Peonies!

It was a long winter, stretching into what should have been spring with a four inch snowfall in late April. We were gone the first half of May (Cancun!). The second half seemed only to deliver strong winds, cold rains and dark skies. Perennials braved the elements by sending up sturdy green stems and leaves but didn’t risk putting forth blossoms.

 Now we’re suddenly breaking records for daily high temperatures, and my back yard is awash in colorful bloom and richly scented air. Here are some pics I took this morning to celebrate – perhaps they’ll cheer me and offer hope next winter when once again the flowerbeds rest under three feet of snow.

There’s always a piece of one or both of us in all the characters we write, so it’s no surprise that some of them love spring and flowers as much as I do. Melissa Hopkins would be one of them. She’s the heroine of Smoldering Passion, and I’ll drop in a blurb and one of her outdoor excerpts below.

Right now we’re in final edits on the sequel, Ripening Passion, due out in July at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid. Like Melissa, I had to go spend time with my flowers this morning before cooping myself up with the edits. Even in the midst of painstaking revisions, I’m loving this new story about a pair of fifty-something lovers. You can read more about Ripening Passion HERE.

BLURB Smoldering Passion

Work for a sex institute? Anything for her art! With her graduate stipend running out, budding artist Melissa Hopkins applies for a job where her aunt used to work – at a New York center that studies sexuality and creates educational sex videos. Sworn off women after a disastrous relationship, Center Director Harry Gage ignores the danger signals and hires the striking young woman who reminds him of his former lover. Her air of innocence will captivate center viewers, so he’s sure she’ll be a hit on camera. What he’s not prepared for is how she pierces his heart. When the sparks ignite, is it love or just sex – and what must each of them risk to find out?

 

EXCERPT Smoldering Passion

Melissa stood and rotated her shoulders. She had to get out of her apartment. It was a beautiful day, and she didn’t want to spend it all inside.

She grabbed her keys and some cash and headed down the stairs to street level. She walked briskly, suddenly knowing where she wanted to be.

Shortly, she turned in at the entrance to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and slowed her pace, pausing to watch the ducks in the Japanese water garden. This was space for relaxing—for breathing deeply, soaking in colors and breezes and scents. The riot of spring bloom was long gone and summer was at its peak. She headed for the Shakespeare Garden and was relieved to find a shady bench empty in a secluded corner. Daisies, Black-eyed Susans and Daylilies formed a casual cluster in yellow, white and orange beside the bench. Further off some taller mauve blooms she couldn’t name were full of butterflies, and a curly-headed toddler ran up to them laughing gleefully. The child’s parents stood nearby, holding hands, happy, as if they had no care in the world.

Melissa shook off a wave of loneliness. She waited till the family left and headed across the broad open meadow towards the rock garden, stopping to watch more children playing tag and hiding behind shrubs and bushes. An artist had set up his easel next to a large tall tree that had one out-of-place low slung branch reaching several yards straight out, parallel to the ground. She could easily imagine relaxing under the protective boughs, but knew better than to disturb his scene or ask what he was seeing.

The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. She stopped and turned around. Nothing seemed out of place—the children were still running with abandon, lovers walked hand-in-hand stopping for brief kisses—there: a man stood on a distant knoll watching where she stood. A hat pulled low on his head served almost as a mask.

She cocked her head to the side. Harry? She jogged toward the small hill. The man turned and scurried over the rise. When she crested it there was nothing but trees and bushes and flowers. Not a single person was in the little glade.

 
© 2014 Adriana Kraft. All Rights Reserved.