Hi, there. I’m Jeanie French. I’m a gardener and a writer. I’ve been writing for more than twenty years, and I used to teach writing at several colleges, most recently as a tenured professor of English at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. But I’ve been a gardener all my life. A couple of years ago, back problems forced me to give up teaching. It became really difficult to get around, and some days, I just couldn’t.
So home I went to Northeastern California, where my husband was holding down the fort in the house in the woods where we raised our two children and have lived for more than 25 years. I had a big garden which had been sadly neglected during the Las Vegas years, and I wanted to make it productive again, but how to manage both the garden and the back pain? Raised beds were the answer.
Most of my garden is now in raised beds made of salvaged redwood fence posts, metal fence stakes, and rebar, all of which were on the property when we bought it in 1987. That’s why, despite severe scoliosis and eight fused vertebrae, bone spurs in my lumbar and cervical spine, two hip surgeries, and a host of other skeletal problems, I am still gardening. (My physical therapist says the only reason I can still bend over is my gardening!) I need more help these days, but fortunately, my husband, Dennis, is semi-retired and only works part-time now. He does all the tilling, building, shoveling, and heavy lifting for me, and I appreciate his help. He also takes photographs which he allows me to use!
If you are interested in seeing some of the kinds of writing I do, I have a website that functions as my writer’s showcase. You can find it at www.JeanLFrench.com. One page there deals with poetry. I’ve written and published a chapbook of nature poems called Paean, from Finishing Line Press, and have had a number of poems published in journals such as Calyx, California Quarterly, Blue Collar Review, and Southern Poetry Review. My next poetry collection, Green Philosophy, will be published by Folded Word, and will be available in late 2013 or 2014. I’ve also written a novel, The Peaceweavers, which is the Beowulf story told from the point of view of the women in the story. A chapter of that novel will appear in Red Rock Review this year. I’m still looking for a publisher for the whole manuscript. I also have several other writing projects I’m working on: a chapbook of poems about growing up in a logging community, a memoir of my mother’s life that is food-related, and a collection of short stories about aging. And there are more, many more. If you follow along, you’ll probably hear more about them all at some point.
It seemed natural to combine my love of writing and gardening into a garden blog, but I’ll also be writing about gardening with a disability, cooking and preserving garden produce, cooking wild game (both my husband and son are hunters), with some natural history observations throw in for good measure. This is, after all, Garden, Forest, Field.