May 2020 Newsletter

What’s Inside:


Greetings from Three Sisters Sanctuary! Spring is here in spite of the recent chilly weather and we are hard at work at the Sanctuary, providing the upkeep and maintenance of the beautiful grounds and gardens. Additionally, we are putting the recommended social distancing protocols in place as we anxiously await the green light to reopen. We are striving to be ready for you to visit so that you may once again experience the restorative and healing energy that we cultivate and nurture on these 8 acres in the Land of Goshen, Massachusetts.

I want to extend a heartfelt “Thank You!” to everyone who has supported us through these incredibly difficult times. We are still very much struggling as we remain closed in accordance with the state’s mandates. With no monies from admission and events, your support has been a lifeline for us. Maintaining the Sanctuary, especially in spring and summer at the height of the growing season, is costly and our needs are great. If you are able, please support and also share our Go Fund Me Covid-19 Campaign: Together, we will make it through these unprecedented times. We are humbled and forever grateful for your enduring support. Thank you!
Richard M Richardson, Creator and Caretaker


COVID-19 Closure Update

Three Sisters Sanctuary remains closed due to COVID-19 Massachusetts state mandates for non-essential businesses. Like everyone else, we are awaiting Governor Baker’s announcement on May 18th. For the very latest information, please go to our website.

Be assured we are making preparations to be able to safely re-open as soon as we are allowed. Three Sisters Sanctuary is situated on 8 acres, allowing for adequate social distancing in a large, natural outdoor area. We will continue to follow state guidelines and protocols to the fullest extent possible and are grateful for your patience, cooperation and support as we move forward together. We can’t wait to welcome you back to the healing gardens of Three Sisters Sanctuary!

Ongoing: Linda Tumbarello’s 4-Week Program “Cultivating an Inner Sanctuary”

The first session of Linda Tumbarello’s program on May 7th presented a wonderful antidote to the stress, anxiety and often loneliness that many have felt acutely, especially during the last several months of the COVID19 pandemic. Tumbarello, a Northampton psychotherapist and self-care coach specializing in body-mind centering, led the online workshop in breathwork, imagery and simple exercises to calm the mind and release tension in the body.

“Cultivating an inner sanctuary, a place where we can nourish ourselves, is a process,” Tumbarello said. “Just as a garden takes time and effort to cultivate, so does an inner garden, an inner sanctuary. We must take time to mindfully cultivate wellness and greater serenity within ourselves, remembering to be gentle with ourselves.”

Breath work is one of the best ways to immediately feel a release from tension and stress. “Our breath is our friend,” said Tumbarello. “Every breath is an opportunity to be nourished and to let go. Breathe in the energy of oxygen that is carried to every cell in our bodies to replenish them. Breathe out the carbon dioxide that plants then use to create more oxygen. Marvel at our relationship with nature!”

After leading the workshop participants in a breathing/centering exercise, Tumbarello advised us to take moments each day to create a supportive dialogue for ourselves, to appreciate and be inwardly kind to ourselves. She also led us through a series of simple stress-relieving body movements we could turn to throughout the day. The response from the participants was heartfelt and immediate as we all shared our observations and feelings in the Zoom session.

Three Sisters Sanctuary is delighted to promote this wonderful, FREE series that will run throughout the month of May and you are encouraged to join for one or all of the remaining sessions! The next Thursday session dates are May 14th, May 21st and May 28th, all at 4pm. To sign up please email We encourage you to visit her website at You can also find a wealth of wisdom and guidance in her new book, “The Heart of Self-Care, A Woman’s Guide to Joyful Living and Well-being,” available through her website. We hope you join us!

In the Gardens

Phlox ready to burst!

Gardening with Cesi at the Sanctuary: June Blooms!

May at the Three Sisters Sanctuary is a lively and vibrant month. Red-winged blackbirds and belted kingfishers call from the wetlands. White birch trees are beginning to leaf out along with the other deciduous trees of the forest, covering the canopy in a mist of pastel greens and pinks. The verdant shoots of daylilies and phlox push up through the soil as the gardens of the Sanctuary come to life.

The star of the month is creeping phlox. A North American native, this spreading groundcover forms a thick mat of green needle-like leaves. From late April through May, it is covered in bright blooms ranging in color from white to light pink to lavender and magenta.

The flowers create a luminous carpet over the ground, cascading down rocks and retaining walls, holding loose soil in place and draping the contours of the early spring landscape in delightful bursts of color. Versatile and hardy, creeping phlox can flourish in very depleted or sandy soil. It grows easily over stone and on inclines and thrives in dry conditions and direct sunlight. At the Sanctuary, creeping phlox softens the lines between art installations and erratic rocks, giving each garden a welcome fluidity.

May at the Sanctuary also ushers in the charm of the little things; periwinkle flowers, dandelions, buzzing bees. Beneath the shadow of tall cypress trees, the small blue eyes of periwinkle flowers peer out. A sporadic Scilla blooms at the foot of a crabapple, cobalt blue flowers in contrast with the tree’s pale and delicate blossoms. The smallest inhabitants of the garden enliven our imagination, poking their heads above the soil in May, greeting art and visitors alike.

What’s New in the Gardens

By Richard M Richardson

The new installation in front of the “Dragons Den,” which is a combination of gardens and artwork by John Stritch, is moving along. It is a project that has been taking up most of my time this spring. After digging down close to 8 inches to remove the original gardens that were inundated with grout weed and then installing two more Japanese maples near the pergolas, the next task was to choose the stones that would live inside of this special area that abuts the “Dragon’s Den.”

The goal is to create a space that allows an easy flow for visitors as they watch the Dragon breathe fire and also spend time admiring John Stritch’s artwork. There are close to 24 pieces of his work at the Sanctuary and a limited few, perhaps four pieces, will be placed here.

John Stritch came into my world a little over 15 years ago through another artist named James Kitchen whose work is also displayed at the Sanctuary. John was truly a gift in my life. He inspired me to continually move forward as an artist. He encouraged me to always look beyond the horizon, to discover new vantage points, and use my imagination in fresh and exciting ways.

At the time we met, he was moving from Hinsdale, Massachusetts to Pittsfield and could not take all of his sculpture with him. He asked if I would consider putting some of his pieces at Three Sisters Sanctuary. I was very honored, gratefully accepted and they have been here ever since. I’ve moved them around a number of times and now several are going into this recently established gallery adjacent the new gardens.

This past Saturday was the third time we have worked on the new garden space. At this point most of the stonework is in and the pea gravel has been laid. The large stones that went into this new area are all handpicked as usual. I selected a number of white quartz erratics; one has white quartz on top of the stone in the shape of a bear with a yellow mane so I nicknamed it “Yellow Bear.” Erratics are stones that are a different material and mineral composition than the surrounding bedrock. Many are volcanic in origin that were moved to this area from ancient ice flows, carried by glaciers during the ice age.

My love of environmental art overwhelms me at times as I look back on how far I have come since beginning the Sanctuary. These new gardens truly reflect my evolvement as a self-taught artist. It has taken me many years to develop the skills needed to execute my visions and create a landscape that combines form and function. Visitors will be able to flow through the area, the garden will mature and fill in and it will cohesively blend into the area of the “Dragon’s Den” and “The Treehouse.” The new gallery will be called “Illusions.” John would have liked that.

The final touch is the installation of different varieties of flowers and plants. They will soften the stonework, frame the artwork and bring color to the gardens. They will invite you to explore the new gallery, admire John Stritch’s work, stand or sit and watch the dragon blow fire, linger under the pergola and enjoy my latest vision that has come to life. More to come as the plants are installed!

Meet the Artist: James Kitchen

Works by James Kitchen

It takes only a few minutes into my phone interview with sculptor James Kitchen to realize I’m a slouch. An artist with seemingly boundless energy, a conversation with Kitchen rapidly segues from one topic to the next- philosophy, music, physics, history, the cosmos and, oh yes, his artwork. When you learn that all of his vast avocations must somehow coexist alongside a “normal” 50-60 hour workweek at his longtime, full-time job with Homestore, the modular home company in Whatley, Ma, that’s when the sinking “slouch” realization sets in.

But, there’s no time to despair. To keep up with this prolific artisan you have got to stay focused! And besides, James Kitchen is so inspiring, uplifting and genuinely fascinating, I found myself reflecting on pursuits I had somehow kept on the periphery of my life instead of in active rotation. Time to get busy!

“When you are young,” he mused, “you think money is the most important thing in your life.” “As you get older, you realize time is truly the most valuable thing we have. For me, it’s all about time management, how I am going to carve out the time to do all the things I want to do in this lifetime.”

James Kitchen grew up on the rural farm plains of Wisconsin. As a boy wandering along the back roads and fields, he was fascinated by the rusting hulks of old farm equipment and bits and pieces of age-old tools found half hidden in the tall grasses. There was family history as well: his grandfather had been a blacksmith, continuing a long lineage working with iron and fire.

Western Massachusetts, with the historical manufacturing hub of Springfield and the surrounding farm and mill towns teeming with “inventory” (as Kitchen calls his endless array of found objects), was a perfect relocation spot. It rekindled his fascination and innate appreciation of form, function and the inherent beauty of a well-made tool or piece of machinery.

Another pivotal moment in his life occurred on vacation at Wells Beach, Maine, when after an afternoon spent stacking and balancing large rocks along the shore, a woman strolling the beach surveyed the array and called out, “Who’s the artist?” “I am,” answered Kitchen, instantly realizing the truth and power behind that simple statement.

Back home in his workshop in Chesterfield, this profound revelation tapped into some smoldering DNA and caught fire. Kitchen turned to his collection of odds and ends of rusting scraps of machinery and old tools, picked up a welder’s torch and began to create. Laboring alone, learning by trial and error, he let the bits of metal guide him through the process of creating. Encouraged by friends and family and that mysterious inner drive that compels all artists, Kitchen’s pieces became larger, more elaborate, more complicated. Over fifteen years later, the resulting body of work is nothing short of stupendous.

His intricate and thought-provoking sculpture are permanently exhibited at many Western Massachusetts locations including several in downtown Springfield: the Springfield Museum of Art, The Tower Square Complex, the Mass Mutual Center, and One Financial Plaza. “Einstein’s Onion” a spectacular piece inspired by the Theory of Relativity is now on permanent display at Western New England University. The accolades and awards are also stacked up.

He has taken smaller works and reimagined them on a grand scale, notably “Days End,” the tired-looking figure originally fashioned from old railroad ties. He faced daunting logistics to install “Birdicus Gigantium,” a 35 ft. sculpture in the middle of bustling downtown Springfield. Undeterred by scale, exhibiting in public spaces has been one of Kitchen’s most rewarding experiences as an artist. We are fortunate to have several of his pieces at Three Sisters Sanctuary.

Teaching and mentoring are also fulfilling endeavors and an exercise in giving back and paying forward. “I have taught welding as an art at Snow Farm, The New England Craft Program in Williamsburg for many years.” He is always amazed by how similar pieces of scrap metal can be interpreted in so many different ways by the students. “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” quotes Kitchen, sharing a favorite from Einstein.

When he’s not creating in his Chesterfield studio, voraciously reading, or walking along country roads, you might find James Kitchen rehearsing or performing with his popular band, “James Kitchen and the Appliances.” Poet, philosopher, artist, businessman, musician, husband, father.

“Ultimately, everything in the Universe is connected,” says Kitchen. I believe him.

For more information, please visit

From Our Community:

Our feedback highlight this week comes from web designer, book designer, artist and published author Robin Brooks. She sent us an email with very helpful insights on our layout: “I loved reading your newsletter and utterly love the Sanctuary. It is helpful for people, when reading, to not have to read a very long run-on paragraph. Also, when you mention your website, it would be good to link the word ‘website’ TO your website.”

Points well taken, Robin! Thank you! We appreciate your time and expertise!

We are always looking for more feedback on our outreach efforts, so don’t hesitate to write to us at