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The Wild Honey Buzz: Serenity in '23 February Edition: Book Acceptance and Title Reveal!

"Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound"....I'm thrilled to share with you the great news that Finishing Line Press has offered to publish my new collection of narrative poems which in addition to being a poetry collection is also a memoir in verse set in the Blue Ridge and Cumberland Mountains of Appalachia.

My book is titled "In the Grip of Grace." I don't have an expected publication date as I just received the notice of acceptance in late January (on my sister's birthday!), but I will be posting updates in this blog as the publication process unfolds.

Grace is one of my favorites words; it is my mama's name, a word from one of my favorite songs, "Amazing Grace" and one of the words that describes for me what I experience in my interactions with nature and in my close relationships. "In the Grip of Grace" is a line from one of the poems in my book. Flowers always speak to me of the "grace of the world" through their beauty and fragrance, and this month I am focused on hyacinths which I grew on my windowsill. The process of "growing" hyacinth bulbs inside in winter is called "forcing." Since the bulbs contain within them all they need to grow, you simply place them on a bed of gravel or marbles (or in soil), add water, place them in a well lit place and watch them extend their roots down and begin to grow and finally bloom. I like to pot them in gravel so I can see their roots. This winter I also forced paperwhite narcissus bulbs in this same way around Christmas time.

I am also looking forward to the "cover reveal" for my book which I will share in a future post. It is a stunningly beautiful photo taken by a photographer who lives in the town where I grew up!

February is Black History Month here in the U.S. and I want to applaud a Black writer with Appalachian roots, William H. Turner, for his wonderful essay, "Black Hillbillies Have No Time for Elegies" which is included in the anthology "Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy." "Hillbilly Elegy" is the book by JD Vance which was hugely popular but also controversial. One of the main criticisms of the book is the fact that the Black experience in Appalachia is ignored in Vance's book as he focuses exclusively on the experience of working class Whites and uses his personal family experience as a commentary on the entire region. You can read my review of "Appalachian Reckoning" on Goodreads. I am looking forward to also reading Mr. Turner's newest book, "The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns." Harlan, Kentucky borders the county in Virginia where I was born.

The Sun will enter the zodiac water sign of Pisces on February 20 when Aquarius Season ends. Happy Birthday to all of the Fish! I'm so fortunate to have a daughter born in this awesome sign; I call her my "Pisces Princess" and she definitely embodies many of the characteristics of this creative and compassionate sign. This month we enjoyed Saint Brigid's Day on February 1 and the Celtic holiday of Imbolc signaling the First Day of Spring in some traditions, followed by Ground Hog Day on February 2 here in the U.S. Then, of course we have Saint Valentine's Day on the 14th.

One of my keys to serenity is spending time by the water. I particularly love the ocean and was fortunate to visit the beautiful Central California coast (Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach) at the beginning of the month. As usual, I found many heart shaped rocks during my beach combing. I look forward to leaving some of these in various places for others to find around Valentine's Day! Another highlight of our visit was seeing 10,000 Western Monarch Butterflies at the Pismo Beach Monarch Grove. The monarch is an endangered species whose numbers have been sharply declining in recent years. This year's numbers are a significant increase over last year, but still a far cry from the 150,000 found there in the 1990's. Intervention efforts are beginning to pay off, particularly the planting of milkweed plants which is the only host plant for this iconic butterfly species. We were so lucky to see them before they take off (usually around March 1) to make their long journey back to Northern areas in search of the milkweed they need to lay their eggs on to begin the next cycle. Their life cycle is reminiscent of salmon who travel long distances to return to their exact place of spawning to lay their eggs.

We also enjoyed welcoming Black History Month by seeing the amazing dance show "Step Afrika" on the campus of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The dancers were phenomenal! I especially love tap and percussion dance of the type Step Afrika dancers do since it is similar to the Appalachian clog dancing that I do. Black dancers in Appalachia contributed to this uniquely American dance form, along with Native Americans, and Celtic, German and Dutch immigrants.

This month wraps up with the celebration of Mardi Gras on the 21st and the observance of Ash Wednesday and beginning of the Lenten Season in the Christian tradition. It's a short month but a busy one, and I am wishing everyone a safe and happy end of Winter as we eagerly await the arrival of the Spring Equinox next month.

Stay Wild & Free and Serene,

~Wild Honey (aka...Marianne)

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