A Day in the Life of Willow McQuade by Chrystle Fiedler

Garden of DeathMy name is Willow McQuade, and gardening is one of my favorite remedies.

I love plunging a trowel into the moist, brown earth, removing enough earth to create a space for a beautiful, health-giving plant, and watching it grow. In fact, I have a passion for everything that’s natural. That’s why I took over my late aunt Claire’s health food store, Nature’s Way Market & Café on the North Fork of Long Island. It was also why I was busy putting the finishing touches on a new medicinal herb garden based on the Chelsea Physic Garden in London this Friday morning in June.

My garden, like the one in London, would showcase various types of plants and use them to educate the local community about the many health benefits of herbs that people can grow at home, such as aloe for burns, turmeric for arthritis, and fennel for indigestion. I planned to hold workshops in the garden to show people how to grow and use these herbs. Now, all of the classes were almost full and I planned to add more.

I got the lot after a local resident donated it to the village and the Mayor and town board asked for applications. I put mine in and kept my fingers crossed and was lucky enough to win! Since then I’ve been working hard, along with my boyfriend and ex-cop Jackson Spade to get the garden ready in time for our annual Maritime Festival – a celebration of all things nautical — which began tomorrow.

Since the Festival first began in 1990, so many events had been added that we locals could barely keep track. But my favorites were the Opening Day Parade, visits from Tall Ships, boat races, the Clam Chowder and Best Pie contests, and the annual pirate invasion, complete with treasure hunts and mermaids. The whole week would be given over to festivities, the town filled with visitors. It seemed the perfect time to officially open the Claire Hagen Medicinal Garden.

Since there were so many things to do, I’d set my alarm for 7:00 a.m., did a quick yoga routine, ate some yogurt with granola, and was in the garden by 8. I’d spent the day digging in the ground and adding plants in each of the sections devoted to different conditions, from heart health to skin care, from chamomile to aloe to calendula.

Qigong, my scruffy, black, grey, and white terrier-type dog, ran up and put his nose in the dirt next to me. He sniffed, decided something was hidden there, and started digging with his chunky, little paws. I patted his head.

“Need help, hon?” Jackson said, and walked over to us. Dressed in his old jeans, a Green Day t-shirt, and boots, he was covered with dirt from working all day on the patio in the back of the garden, which would be the foundation for our new outdoor tea room, but it didn’t matter. With his short cropped hair, just enough stubble to be sexy, and dreamy blue eyes, he made me melt.

“I’m okay,” I said. “Qigong is doing a great job digging holes.”

“I’ll bet,” he said. “I think he wants to be your chief gardening assistant.”

“No one digs a hole like you do,” I assured the dog. Then I got up and pulled Jackson into a hug. “But you’re the best. I couldn’t have done all this without you.” I gave him a kiss.

“Now you have dirt on your nose,” he said, smiling. He pulled a bandana from his back pocket, gently wiped the dirt off, and kissed my nose.
“Okay, you’re all set.”

I glanced at the sky that was suddenly full of clouds, blocking out the late-afternoon sun. “What time is it?” I asked.

Jackson checked his watch. “It’s almost five. Time flies when you’re having fun in the garden.”

I pulled off my gardening gloves. “It sure does. But we need to get ready. Tonight’s the big night. I get to see you in a tux.”

Jackson’s wardrobe usually consisted of jeans, a t-shirt, and boots, but tonight we were going to the Land and Sea Ball, the opening event of the Festival, and Jackson had promised to wear a tux. He looked good in anything, but I was certain he was going to be a knock-out all dressed up.

“And I get to see you in that gown that makes you look like Cinderella.” He gave me a quick kiss. “I just need to clean up over there.”

He turned to start back to the open-air tea garden. But before he could take a step, Qigong, done digging, dropped something at his feet. I saw something rectangular wrapped in what looked like an old dishtowel.

Jackson bent and unwrapped it, revealing a small cardboard box. Or at least it had been. It was nearly flattened now, the cardboard thin with age and barely holding its rectangular shape. “Hmm . . . no wording on the box,” Jackson observed. He lifted what was left of its lid, and I saw a glint of metal inside. “Why would any bury one earring?” he muttered.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He brushed off some dirt then held it out to me–a delicate gold earring with an exquisite heart-shaped setting. “There’s only one in here,”
he said. “And someone obviously buried it in this box. Buried treasure,” he mused.

“It looks old,” I said. “And the wire in the back is broken.”

“What kind of stone is that?”

I squinted at the colorless stone in the middle. Even under the cloudy skies, it had a sparkle to it. “There’s so much dirt around the edges, it’s hard to be sure. But I think . . . it might be a diamond.
Jackson, this could be worth something.”

“We should find the other one,” Jackson said. He took my spade and dug into the ground, but even with Qigong helping him, he didn’t find the other earring. “Nothing here, but I could get that one appraised.”

“Go for it,” I said. “If it’s valuable, you can use the money for your animal refuge.” A year ago, after Jackson adopted two abused dachshunds, he decided to open a haven for animals at his place in East Marion, which was five minutes from Greenport. He had plenty of space, enough for a garden and room for the animals to run free. So far, he had acquired a horse, two donkeys, a goat, five dogs, six cats, two rabbits, and a turtle–and three dedicated volunteers to help him run things.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “You’re just going to give away a possibly antique, possibly diamond earring?”

“You know I’m not really into jewelry,” I said with shrug. “But I do like helping your refuge. So keep the earring.”

I handed him the earring, and he dropped it in his pocket. “Thanks, McQuade. That’s very nice of you.” He gave me a quick kiss.

“No problem.” I began to put my tools back into the gardening basket. “I think we’re in good shape for tomorrow, don’t you?”

“Well, the patio isn’t quite done but I think the garden is really impressive. You’re ready.”

I blew out a breath. “Good, so we can just relax and have fun tonight.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

I picked up the basket and gave him another quick kiss. Even when he was covered with dirt, Jackson was ridiculously kissable. “I’ll meet you in the shower. If we do it together, it’s more environmentally friendly.”

“Sounds good to me. As you know, I can be very friendly,” Jackson said, smiling.

You can read more about Willow in Garden of Death, the third book in the “Natural Remedies” mystery series, published by Pocket Books. The first two books in the series are Scent to Kill and Death Drops.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on March 30 for the chance to win a copy of Garden of Death. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
CHRYSTLE FIEDLER is the author of the previous Natural Remedies mysteries, Scent to Kill, and Death Drops, as well as six nonfiction books on natural healing and herbal remedies. Also a freelance journalist specializing in alternative health topics, her work has appeared in Natural Health, Spirituality & Health, Mother Earth Living, Green Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Vegetarian Times, and Remedy. She lives in Greenport, New York with her 3 dachshunds and 2 cats, three of which are rescues. Visit www.chrystlefiedler.com, or follow her on Facebook, and Twitter.

75 responses to “A Day in the Life of Willow McQuade by Chrystle Fiedler

  1. What a GORGEOUS cover! And it sounds so interesting too. I’m such a dog lover, and they are so smart to dig up a real mystery! 😀

  2. Thanks for the giveaway! I haven’t read any of this series yet but this book sounds great. Also, Meg Mims is absolutely right. The cover is gorgeous!

  3. What a great series!!!
    Thank you for the giveaway….

  4. MaryAnn Forbes

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to win Garden of Death!

  5. I enjoyed the first two – Scent to Kill and Death Drops. I’m looking forward to reading Garden of Death. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. The cover is lovely, and Garden of Death sounds like a great cozy book. I will have to check out the other books in the Natural Remedies mysteries series.

  7. candace knight

    I love this series. It’s a fun read and there is good advice for herbal remedies. Thank you for the chance.

  8. sounds like a great series and a good book. I wuld love to win a copy.

  9. Brenda Handy

    I’ve really enjoyed the first two in this series and have been looking forward to this one. Thank you for the opportunity to enter your giveaway!

  10. Dawn Frazier

    I love this series and would love to win this one. Thanks for the chance.

  11. I’ve got to read #2 now.

  12. Rachel Mustain

    This looks likes a really interesting series. I have always been interested in mysteries that discuss herbs or medicinal plants like Susan Wittig Albert or Joyce and Jim Lavene. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  13. Debbie Carnes

    Sounds really interesting, would love to read it

  14. Thanks for the chance to win Garden of Death. Looks like it will be another winner.

  15. Ahhh want to read this.I have not read the other two in the series but from the synopsis sounds like the books could be stand alones?
    Need to know about the earring now.
    Thank you for the chance. 🙂

  16. I would love to read this book—thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  17. I would really enjoy owning this book. It sounds fascinating.

  18. Love the cute little doggie on the cover of this book….looks like a really awesome book….thanks for the chance to win it!

  19. This looks great! Would love to add it to my TBR pile!

  20. i have not read this series, thank you for the chance to win 🙂

  21. I have not read this series bUT will have to give it a try. Hope to win thanks for.chance

  22. Looks great!! Thanks for the chance to win.

  23. Sounds like another (new-to-me) series to track down and read!!

  24. Thank you Dru and Willow/Chrystle! I haven’t read this series, but it sounds interesting…adding to that ever-growing TBR list!

  25. This sounds like a series I could really get into. Thanks for the opportunity to get started.

  26. Debbie Price

    I have not read any of this series, but I am looking forward to reading it! Thank you for the giveaway!

  27. Pirate treasure! Sounds like fun. Thanks for the giveaway.

  28. I attend gardening workshops often as i love to garden. I can relate to this character’s love of gardening. I obviously love mysteries and what better storyline than finding buried treasure!

  29. Anita Yancey

    I love the cover and the name of the book. It sounds like a great book. I haven’t read any books by this author, but I’ll now be looking for her books. Thanks for this chance to win it.

  30. A unique and fascinating series. Thanks.

  31. Gardening, animals, and mystery all in one–sounds great

  32. Yes please Dru, I would desperately love to add this book to my home library. Toss my hat into the contest ring please.

  33. Love dogs and the outdoors and mystery, this should be a great one.Thank you for the chance,

  34. What a great cover and title! Love the name, Willow McQuade! Thank you for a terrific review and a chance to win a copy!

  35. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by! I think you’ll really enjoy my new book especially since it’s finally Spring and part of the action takes place in the garden and at our annual Maritime Festival in my hometown of Greenport, NY on the North Fork of Long Island. I love animals so you’ll get to meet Qigong, Rockford, Columbo and Willow’s cats Ginger and Ginkgo! My own dachshunds are named after sleuths, Holmes, Wallander and Fletcher! 😀

  36. Karen Candee

    Love gardens – love animals! Would love to read this book!!

  37. I really enjoyed the first two books in this series. Very entertaining.

  38. Would love to start a new series. thanks.

  39. Sounds like a great series.

  40. peggy clayton

    Sounds like a great series and what a great cover. This was also a nice long excerpt which is always good to find thank you. Most of us love to garden and love animals so alot of authors are really getting our attention which is just wonderful would love to win a print copy due to totally disabled.

  41. Ah, the mysterious single earring. What does that portend?

  42. Sounds great! Picking up the other books. Thanks for the chance!

  43. We are having a lot of “spring” snow today. Can’t seem to shake that winter feeling. This book should put me on the right path. Love the cover and I’m sure the story will match. Hope I win.

  44. Vivian Shane

    I just read a sample of Death Drops – looks like a good read! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity for book #3 – I have some catching up to do!

  45. This book is on my list of cozies to pick up so I’d love to win it. Beautiful cover!!

  46. I love the looks of the cover and the title/premise of this book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  47. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed earlier books by Chrystle Fiedler in this series, or as I call it “painless learning”. As a gardener myself, I like learning new info re gardens. I’d love the chance to win a copy of the latest!

  48. The cover of a book always entices me when I’m looking at a new book. The cover of Garden of Death would draw me right in and I’ve put it on must read list. Hope I’m lucky in my chance to win a copy.

  49. Reminds me of the antique ring my dad dug up in the garden years ago. What a fun beginning.

  50. What a wonderful dream! Finding something in your garden that had sentimental value to former residents. I love it!

  51. Michelle Fidler

    I’d like to read these books, especially since we have a similar last name.

  52. I haven’t read this series but I would love to thanks for the contest

  53. conniepsaunders

    I Iove gardening and cozy mysteries. This sounds like a great read! Thanks for this giveaway.

  54. Thanks so much Dru and to all of you for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the Garden of Death! I’m working on the 4th book in the series now which is d Dandelion Dead and features poisonous plants and our local vineyard scene!

  55. Jeanie Dannheim

    What a great story! I would love to read this; I am interested in various herbs so this sounds like something I can learn from and enjoy! Many thanks for the chance to win!

  56. Nancy Roessner

    This book sounds really good!

  57. This sounds like a book I would like to try. Thank you for a chance to win a copy of Garden of Death.

  58. Alicia Farage

    This one is going on my list!

  59. I loved the first two books and would love to win the third. Thanks for the chance.

  60. I enjoyed the first one. Happy to see a new one.

  61. Betty Jo English

    Sounds like a romantic community garden read is in my future. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  62. Barbara Dorsam

    I enjoy the natural remedies series & would love this book. Thanks for the offer!

  63. I’m just dreaming about starting to garden this spring—and I hope I don’t find something dead in my garden! I’d love to read this book.

  64. When I move, I hope to have at least a kitchen counter garden. I am so missing a plot to play in. My kale sprouted wonderfully. Just don’t have the space any more.

  65. Patricia Allen

    This book looks very interesting, can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  66. kayekillgore

    I would like to read this one.

  67. MaryAnn Forbes

    Would be very happy to win Garden of Death! Thanks so much.

  68. The beautiful cover makes me want spring and my garden! Thanks!

  69. Cynthia E. Blain

    I don’t believe that I have read any of the books in this series, but then again, my memory has faded a lot, so perhaps I did, but in any case I would love to get introduced or re introduced to the author and this series. Sounds much too interesting to not give this series a chance.
    Thank you.

  70. Marilyn Watson

    Well the garden and the earring sounds delicious…I’d love to read this.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  71. I wonder what is the mystery of the earring.

  72. WelI, I’m hooked for sure. And there’s more than one in the series!

  73. sounds like a great series – and an interesting topic. thanks!

  74. Can’t wait to ‘dig’ into this book! Clever idea, fun sounding mystery and a LOVELY cover!

  75. contest is closed.