Updated: Oct 5
When I confirmed plans to join a bookclub for a light dinner in Iowa on the way to see Natalie in St. Paul, I wasn't expecting more than a sandwich, short discussion about The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community and Coming Home to the Body, and a sparse bedroom where Ken and I would bunk down for the night. Instead, we landed in paradise, the Iowa version of Eden in autumn, and no wonder. The home of Karen Weir and Doug Jimerson is a haven of gardens and animal life, bursting with color, blossom, three jumping but sweetly calm Irish Jack Russells, a bevy of border collies, grazing sheep in the field near horses and donkeys, and about a dozen roaming cats, most of the sturdy six-toed variety.
I soon discovered that Doug is the garden editor for Better Homes and Gardens, a magazine I’ve loved forever (who doesn’t love lush photos of gardens and meals without those pesky articles on how to lose weight juxtaposed against triple-fudge brownie recipes?). Karen is a writer and vibrant creative soul who
The book group met in an old chicken house, reborn into a dining building with soft yellow walls, long antique benches around the table, and soft lighting. There we dined on vegetable soup, fres French bread, cranberry tart, a meat tray, and various spreads, not to mention the oreos passed around as the hours unfolded. A simple discussion turned into questions about the book, how we’re doing, our collective cancer stories, tales of floor refinishing and interspersed readings I did from parts of the memoir and also from some of my poetry.
“This is my new home, and these are my new parents. Go on to St. Paul, and I’ll see you later,” I said to Ken, especially finding out about the horses, but logic and family ties took hold and led me to the car, saying goodbye to the six-toed cats and the Jimersons, the gardens around us saturated with lush and fading color on this cold overcast morning.