Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Inspiration/Block (for the writer) (05/20/10)
TITLE: Untamed Thoughts
By Judith Evans
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The previous evening, I had decided to write a memoir about my first garden, which my grandfather and I had planted when I was twelve. He called it “my granddaughter’s garden”. Thirty years later, I continued to tend that same patch of soil at that same old gray house—now my house. The story line already existed in my reservoir of cherished memories; I simply needed to add details. Irrelevant thoughts, however, insisted on distracting me. Fledgling subplots arrived at dead ends as bittersweet memories of my grandparents’ voices stopped me in my tracks. How could such a perfect story plan become stuck?
My gaze focused on the task at hand in my present-day garden. Weeds had begun to poke through the soil among the fragrant herbs. I put on my gloves and grabbed a clump of unwanted green stems. The earth briefly smelled sweeter as I pulled up the roots. The thyme would look perfect here, I reflected—but for some reason I hesitated before pulling up more weeds. My heart sank as I realized I had been removing one of my grandmother’s favorite wild plants: chickweed.
Years ago, the delicate creeping weed with the tiny white flowers had provided a soothing poultice for my skinned knees. “God created weeds,” Nana explained as she gently applied the poultice, “just as sure as He created green beans and carrots.” Now, as I surveyed the immediate area, the white star-shaped blossoms peeked from under robust tomato and pepper plants. I left the remaining chickweed undisturbed, and decided to spend the afternoon reviewing Nana’s herbal recipes. My brown and white cat, who had just joined me at the edge of the garden, stared as I ran back to the house.
On a shelf next to my computer, Nana’s cloth-bound herbal notebooks collected dust. Tentative story lines emerged as I gently turned the yellowed pages. Long forgotten words of wisdom sparked a creative flame. In the family garden, I had found respite from unwanted thoughts and writer’s fatigue. Then a gift from God’s untamed creation provided inspiration. Why not write a tribute to my intelligent, nurturing grandmother? Weeds—no longer dismissed and discarded—had led this gardener back to her story.
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