The Pit and the Passion

She held her gaze steady, mainly so she could delve deep, deep into those chocolate eyes. Together with his sharp, angular nose and intense, almost predatory, expression, he reminded her of a peregrine falcon on the hunt.

The Pit & the Passion

Monday, April 24, 2017

Welcome to the Highway Cafe Spring Tour!

Welcome to the Highway Café Spring Tour!

Authors galore are participating in the Great 2017 Highway Café Spring Tour April 24 to 26! There will be blogs, giveaways and an Easter egg hunt.
While you read the post, don’t forget to look for the lost eggs (they’re somewhere on my blog) and leave a comment as to where you found them. Then go to

You can find the list of bloggers, and comment to enter the running for the grand prize, our Spring ‘Tastic basket of ebooks. Comment here and enter to win my latest romantic suspense Lapses of Memory!

Winners will be announced April 28.

Spring Memories
I have to be honest: growing up, fall was my favorite season. I loved going to school, loved the crisp, clean air and the warm cinnamon colors. But spring had its virtues, so I thought I’d describe what it was like in some of the places I’ve lived.
April in Paris can be idyllic or it can be damp and gray. Either way, I agree with Cole Porter:
I love Paris in the springtime/
I love Paris in the fall/
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles/
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.

In Lapses of Memory, Sydney spends precious time in Paris. Here she arrives with a heavy heart.
Sydney looked out over the rows of heads as they circled the city and headed north to Charles De Gaulle Airport. Feeble sunlight pinged off the mud-colored Seine. A Bateau Mouche chugged past the Île de la Cité in the shadow of Notre Dame, tourists hanging off the railings. On the riverbank, booksellers would soon be opening their kiosks and setting out the leather-bound products of a disappearing industry. Shopkeepers would be pulling up their metal accordion doors and dragging out carts filled with spring vegetables. Asparagus, artichokes, baby greens, endive. Young boys in aprons would be sweeping the sidewalks and bakers rising up to the street from their basement ovens like latter-day Vulcans, loaded down with warm baguettes. She could almost hear the squeals of schoolgirls chasing each other through the convent gates while the church bells pealed for Mass.

Cambridge in spring
In Boston spring means yellow snow. And black snow. And gray snow. That’s it. Yet, there is always hope, as Catherine sees in this passage from A Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma
“She walked out into a beautiful, balmy day for the middle of winter. The sky was the royal blue of promise and melting ice pinged onto her head from the eaves of the old brick buildings. Looking up, she glimpsed the tentative light green of buds clinging to the tree branches. Only a few sad leftovers of yellow snow hung on by the curbs. She found herself skipping as she neared the Fogg Art Museum.”

Cranes in Istanbul 1980
I lived in Istanbul for a year, part of the time in a big old faculty house on a hill in the suburb of Bebek surrounded by tall walnut trees. It had been a cold, snowy winter and spring seemed far away. Then one early morning I awoke to a sound like a huge wind. I walked out to see a blanket of cranes covering the roof. Masses teetered in the trees, making them bend and sway. It was the annual migration of the Eurasian cranes. These birds were flying the eastern route, which starts in the Horn of Africa and ends in Russia. One stop on the route —usually at the end of February—is Istanbul.


I don’t remember a spring in Chicago. There was snow, and then it was hot.

Rush Hour
I’ve been living on a barrier island in Florida for four years and while it is in fact paradise, the season has become a little too much. This is from my upcoming release, the Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel. It captures the frustration of the locals at the hordes of tourists yearning for sun.

“I see the welcome-back parties filled the entire second section this week.” She looked over her shoulder. On the road behind them, cars crept along bumper to bumper, swerving like over-cautious slugs around the idling tractor trailers racked with the town cars and SUVs of returning snowbirds. Elderly drivers clutched their steering wheels with hands that trembled in fear whenever the speedometer registered more than twenty miles per hour. Which—happily for their hearts—happened rarely, what with the minivans teeming with large Ohio families slowing down every few feet to crane their necks at the sabal palms and herds of grazing ibis. She sighed. The season on Longboat Key had become one long nightmare of traffic and crowds. She prayed that soon it would reach a tipping point, and all those armies of lily-white Teutons from Toronto and Chicago would decide to go elsewhere and she could have her beautiful barrier island back.”

Khamseen in Cairo
The seasons don’t change much in Egypt—always warm and dry (except for the Thanksgiving in 1972 when it rained all day and people thought it was the end of the world, but that’s another story). Spring is particularly harsh when the khamseen arrives—usually in March. It is a hot, fierce wind that carries the sands of the western desert into every single nook, cranny, and orifice. It even scrapes the sand off the sandstone buildings and adds it to the wind. Interesting fact—they have the same thing in Arizona in the spring, and oddly enough it’s called the Haboob.

I spent a large part of my life in the Washington DC area—home to the Cherry Blossom festival. The trees were a gift from Japan and each year they bloom in profusion around the famous tidal basin. Spring in DC is absolute perfection—the azaleas, the cherry trees, the tulips. In this passage from Lapses of Memory, Sydney and her daughter drive through the streets of Old Town Alexandria in early spring:
Cherry trees Washington

“The earliest Piedmont azaleas were in bloom, their delicate lavender spikes blending with the cheery yellow forsythia. Limning the bushes, gold-kissed daffodils peeked through their stockade of leaves. The cobblestone streets swarmed with delivery vans and construction trucks off-loading materials.”

18 comments: said...

Wow! You've lived in a lot of interesting places. Thanks for sharing what spring is like there. I found the eggs on the right-hand side of the blog.

C.B. Clark said...

You certainly have moved around a lot. I enjoyed your descriptions of Spring around the world. Spring where I live is just starting. The ravens are making more noise and the geese are flying overhead looking for open water. Good luck with your Blog Hop.

Nell Castle said...

I came to your blog for a different reason, not knowing about the blog hop. (Easter eggs on right side! :) I know *exactly* what you mean about traffic on Longboat Key. I lived right across the bridge from Anna Maria Island on the mainland. It was a toss-up which was worse: almost intolerably hot summers, or winters full of traffic jams. I enjoyed reading about all of your former homes!

DarleneLF said...

How fun to hear about spring in other parts of the world. Thank you for sharing. Spring took a long time getting here on the East Coast. The robins seemed confused when they arrived back with snow flurries still occurring.

M. S. Spencer said...

Thanks for visiting everyone! Make sure you check out all the other wonderful authors participating. M. S.
Nell--what did you come to the blog to see? Just wondering :)

Nancy Fraser said...

Love the world tour! Some great information here.

Hywela Lyn said...

What an interesting post! Thanks for sharing.

GiniRifkin said...

What wonderful memories you have to draw upon. The exotic places you've seen sound wonderfully romantic.

Claire said...

Paris is my favorite city. I love that quote! Thanks for all the interesting information--traveling is such a rich source or inspiration. Claire Marti

Melissa Keir said...

You have lived in some wonderful places. I think some of them remind me of Michigan's spring...we had warm summer like temps, then snow and then rain and all in one week's time!

Luckily, it's sunny and nice today! I wish you the best with your books!

Tena Stetler said...

WOW, a seasoned traveler! Enjoyed the pictures of places you've lived. I too like fall and the rusty colors, crisp air. But Spring flowers and green grass is wonderful too. Saw your easter eggs to the right. Thanks for sharing!

M. S. Spencer said...

Thanks all for stopping by. Remember to visit all the other wonderful participants in our Spring Tour--and leave a comment on the main page to enter to win the basket. I will be giving away a copy of Lapses of Memory to a lucky (I hope!) commenter here. M. S.

Ruby Scalera said...

You made me nostalgic for my years in Boston! Thank you for all these lovely memories. (Found the eggs!)

K.K. Weil said...

It was so interesting to hear about spring in all of these different places. How wonderful that you've been able to experience all of this!

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

What great places to have lived. My fav picture is the one of the white trees in Washington because I've seen them many years ago.

Sorchia DuBois said...

I'm envious of your experiences in so many wonderful places. Thanks for sharing.

M. S. Spencer said...

Linda, that was a picture I took of a colleague--we were playing hookey on a spring day from work in the Senate. Tony always used to say "You gotta be happy in your work." That day we were happy to get away from it! Thanks for reading. M. S.

M. S. Spencer said...

C. B. Clark--please contact me. You're the winner of Lapses of Memory! M. S.