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Spring is an ephemeral thing in my part of the country.

Most years, it sneaks in without much fanfare around mid-to-late February, ushering in splashes of color from local wildflowers like fiddleneck, lupine, popcorn, and poppies. This year the “super bloom” was a gift I couldn’t stop photographing.

From our Redbud tree’s unfolding blossoms in my backyard (above) to the carpet of Easter fiddleneck at Lake McClure, everywhere you look is beauty.

As the temperature heats up, the verdant green grass hillsides quietly change from green to pale gold. The vernal ponds linger with cheerful basins of yellow or white flowers—especially in wet years, like this one. But the one thing you can count on is the wildflower-adorned river banks of the Merced River.

In late April, my niece, Kerry, came to visit for a few days and we took her for a hike along the Merced River Canyon near Briceburg. As we drove across the old bridge, we paused to marvel at the white-water rapids below us. And I pointed out, “This is where Sam and Jenny spread Josh’s ashes.”

Paul and Kerry looked at me indulgently. They know I have characters who feel like family to me, even if my real family has no idea who I’m talking about.😉 Do you remember reading this snippet?

       Most of the mourners began to disappear within minutes after the close of the service, Jenny noted with relief. She didn’t blame them—the heat in the river canyon was hellish.
       She felt a little light-headed and giddy, but she wasn’t sure that could be blamed on the heat. More than likely, it was her mind coming to grips with the surreal nature of watching her husband’s ashes drift in the air.
       As an old friend from high school played taps on the trumpet, Jenny—with Sam at her side—had stood at the midway point of the Briceburg Bridge and somehow managed to empty the polished metal box of its gray ash. For the space of a heartbeat the ash had floated—a visible reminder of all that would never be—then melted into the water and disappeared.
       Despite the glare of the sun, Jenny continued to stare at the river from her vantage point near the edge of the parking lot. At Sam’s gentle prodding, she’d handed him the empty box before returning to the gathering place for handshakes and hugs that she was too numb to feel.
       Why the river, Josh? Why couldn’t you at least have left me a burial plot that I could visit with the children on your birthday or holidays?
       But there was no answer. Only Josh’s four-page funeral script. A final itinerary that had included a memorial service in Coyote Springs’s Park then a motorcade following Donnie Grimaldo’s patrol car to the Bureau of Land Management recreation area on the Merced River.

©The Rancher’s and the Widow’s First Christmas by Debra Salonen
(In case you missed it: Amazon.)

A 4-mile drive down a narrow dusty road brought us to the trail head, and we made the beauty of spring on the Merced our own. Here are a few pics):

We’d planned to hike to where the North Fork tributary meets the Merced, but a rather large obstacle had fallen across our path.

Oh, well, Mother Nature. You win. Maybe next time…😉

Did you follow any of the Coronation of King Charles (I really thought his mother might outlive him)? I didn’t see much of the spectacle, but I did enjoy learning about the special recipes that had been created for this event.

As per this press release: “The official dish for the coronation, according to a recipe released by Buckingham Palace, is a vegetarian quiche made of spinach, tarragon, cheese and fava beans.”

Fava Beans? Nope. Not happening.

So maybe dessert? The official dessert is a strawberry/ginger trifle. Cool. We love trifle.

So, here’s a screenshot of the official dessert. You probably can see my dilemma. Black treacle? Caster sugar? Gelatine leaves?

Not happening here. But local strawberries are abundant so feel free to make my Deb Salonen Official Mother’s Day Trifle. (The shaved chocolate is a tribute to my very special book deal below.)

Deb’s Super Simple (I’d rather play than cook) Mother’s Day Trifle


  • Costco 3-pack pound cakes (use: some, all, or one and freeze the rest. Your call.)
  • Half a flat of fresh strawberries, sliced and allowed to sit covered in fridge overnight or at least a few hours to create juice.
  • Two containers of already-made whipped cream topping (not Cool Whip, by personal choice) or two pints of whipping cream whipped with a small amount of sugar to a fairly stiff peak.
  • A drizzle of liqueur of choice (I’m a fan of Grand Marnier)
  • Shaved dark chocolate

Assemble layers in a glass bowl with high sides (because it’s pretty) as follows:

  1. Spread a base of loosely crumbled pieces of pound cake.
  2. Top with a drizzle of liqueur of choice.
  3. Spread thick layer of sliced strawberries and cover with half of any juice from the bowl.
  4. Smooth a thick, fluffy layer of whipped cream over the berries.
  5. Repeat
  6. Finish with shaved chocolate for looks and because most mothers like chocolate…and/or stories set in a chocolate shop. Right? (see below)

I’ve been having the most fun strolling down Memory Lane this week because my dear friend and colleague C. J. Carmichael and our mutual publisher, Tule Publishing, procured a BookBub “FREE” feature for her book: MELT MY HEART, COWBOY – Book 1 in the 12-book Love at the Chocolate series.

(12 books = 1/month) Mine were Books 3 and 10. Check out the whole series here.

at the retailer of your choice HERE!

It’s only free for a very short time. If you missed this one—or any of the titles in this wonderful series—I hope you’ll take a look. C.J. never fails to deliver a lovely, emotional, but truly satisfying read.

Happy reading! Enjoy a beautiful Mother’s Day (whether you are one, have one, or know one). Be kind to some woman somewhere—especially yourself.


PS: Happy Birthday wishes to this sweet girl, who never ceases to amaze me with her curiosity, wit, intelligence, and charm. We love you, Rya Grace.

Coming Next:
– NEW cover reveal…and why!



Copyright © 2023 Debra Salonen