Meg Noble Peterson

Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia


 Would you believe that a month ago we were drowning and now, in the middle of summer, we’re having the spring we never had? I’m beginning to think that we’re competing with Seattle to see who can have the strangest weather year. But who’s complaining? I’m glad for the cool breezes and mild sunshine. Overjoyed, in fact. 

Speaking of Seattle, my daughter, Cary, is having a banner year creating, with the help of 160 volunteers, a gigantic garden on Whidbey Island, the Good Cheer Garden, which supplies the Food Bank with much-needed produce. Gardening is, once again, seen as an important part of our country’s economic life as well as a great social and community enterprise. And then, there are those delicious, healthy fresh vegetables! I recommend that you take a look at her website,  This has become a major project in the life of South Whidbey, WA.

 In June Mike Fenton, Autoharp player extraordinaire, and his lovely wife, Rachel, visited me from England on their way to the Mt. Laurel Autoharp Gathering. They surprised me by taking me to the fabulous Billy Elliot on Broadway. It is every bit as great a musical as the Tony Awards proclaimed, and a must-see for those visiting New York City. 

Another great Autoharp player visited me this week. He’s the other Will Smith and hails from Nashville, TN. Here he is playing his new Tom Fladmark Autoharp, which he designed and fitted with the most beautiful and unusual chord combinations I have ever heard. I was enthralled by his playing and can’t wait to hear his latest album. IMG_5660My traveling and hiking have been greatly curtailed because of a stupid accident (are there any smart ones?) in which I tore the meniscus in my left knee. It wasn’t serious, but it needed repair. So at the end of June, during my recuperation from laparoscopic surgery, I spent a glorious week with my two sisters at our cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. It was perfect…if you like rain. And the water temperature would have thrilled a polar bear. Not being polar bears, we waited for our meager three days of sunshine to brave the icy waves. Here are some pictures of the cottage at sunset.

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Cottage, Goodmans & barn, 2008 008

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Cottage, Goodmans & barn, 2008 449

Upon returning to Maplewood in July I was treated to a once-a-year rock concert extravaganza, Maplewoodstock, conceived and organized by my son-in-law, Gary Shippy. This two-day celebration of local and national bands is in its sixth year and draws an enormous crowd from Maplewood and South Orange. Families gather on the grassy hill near the railroad station to mingle, visit folk art booths, and delight in being with old friends. Children dance to the music and play on the lawn, while adults engage in an all-day picnic, which continues late into the night. This year we were treated to such headliners as Marshall Crenshaw and Jonathan Edwards. And the weather cooperated by holding the rain until the moment the last note was played. This is just another good reason to live in this friendly, alive community.

 Tomorrow I leave for another three weeks at the Winnipesaukee cottage, where my family and friends will gather for swimming, kayaking, and hiking in the White Mountains. After that I head for the great northwest, Whidbey Island, and the northern Cascades. I shall write about these adventures next month. In the meantime, do look at my latest photos mentioned at the bottom of the home page in red ink. Like most people who use digital cameras, I’m way behind in my postings. There are just too many pictures. And who’s to blame for that? I’m afraid we’re all the same!

 While in Seattle, I’m looking forward to seeing my friend, Beth Whitman, writer, most recently, of For Women Traveling in India, and a peripatetic traveler ( I had also hoped to see Rita Golden Gelman (, whom I have admired since I read her book, Tales of a Female Nomad. She is a true nomad. I now discover that she won’t be there at the end of August, but urge you to look at her website and read about her new program, Let’s Get Global, for the “gap year and more” movement she has started. This is a program after my own heart, introducing young people to the joys of travel and of really getting to know other cultures.







    3 years ago I chanced upon a news item in the local Whidbey Island paper: that news item listed a book talk to be given by an intrepid traveler. I went – that traveler was you – and after your talk I bought your book, we chatted, and exchanged e-mails and phone numbers. As with so many good intentions, neither of us followed up. You may remember me: I bought your book with money my husband had in his wallet when he died, and I had decided to use that money here and there and consider whatever I got a gift from him. (No I am normally not morbid: it was just one of my ways to deal with his sudden death that summer). I told you I had traveled on my own and by myself for a month in Vietnam to celebrate my 70th birthday – doing the backpacker type of travel- and had the best trip of my life. I may have given you my business card, which gave my name, followed by “Goddess of Serendipitous Travel” and “Empress of Whimsical Events”.

    Now serendipitous is one of my favorite words, and just this week I serendipitouslypickedupyour was reading, and decided to google you and see what else of import you had done. Serendipitously I saw that you were planning a trip to Whidbey Island. I looked at the calendar and that would be about right now. I live in Kent, Washington, and have a beach house on Brighton Beach in Clinton on Whidbey Island and am going there tomorrow. I will be there most of August.

    If you have time in your busy schedule I would love to meet you again. Incidentally I am looking forward to reading all your blogs now: I quite enjoy them and especially want to read about your recent travels. I too have managed to log lots of air miles going to interesting places: China, Japan, various countries in South America, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, Mexico, India and etc. and am now planning a trip to Croatia. Also plan to go to Cambodia, Laos and back to Vietnam in the winter and am planning for Timbuctuu! (I have to: I love to say the name). Anyway – Congratulations to you for being so organized and actually writing that blog! If you have time in your schedule call at 206 226 220 and/or email me. I only check my email a coupe of times a week as I have no internet access at my beach house and must go to the local library. CHEERS TO YOU AND KEEP UP THE ADVENTURE OF LIFE! PHEE ANDERSON

  2. Jon Pollack

    I am happy to report that Meg just finished 3 difficult hikes with me in the Mt. Baker area and she did just great! She is really something!

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