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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)

TITLE: Not My Cup of Tea
By Venice Kichura


New carpeting? Nice,” the realtor noted, strolling through my house, scribbling notes.

“New kitchen flooring.” She nodded her approval. “And new windows?”

“We also have a new roof and driveway,” I pointed out. “And we’ve heated the sunroom.”

“Sunroom…? Excellent!” She smiled, heading towards my favorite room.

But as she walked through the sunroom my face turned as crimson red as the roses I once grew. She glanced out the windows, glaring at our “garden”.

Wish it were January and the jumbled mess was buried in snow.

“Uh…Uh…We’re not garden people,” I apologized as her inspecting gray eyes surveyed our backyard.

“I know it’s an eyesore, but after pulling up begonias while fertilizing weeds and wildflowers I gave up,” I joked, uncomfortable with the silence that followed.

“Hmmm…” She stalled for words, scrambling for something hopeful to add, realizing she was competing for our business.

“Awesome…. You have a fenced-in yard,” she finally said, relieved to have found something positive.

As she walked outside to take more notes, I excused myself, brewing a fresh pot of tea, too embarrassed over my garden to join her.

When we first moved here seven years ago I had high hopes of finally becoming a gardener. Now I wanted to cry as I compared pictures I’d taken of my garden seven years ago to today’s weed patch.

The first few springs I’d watched in eager anticipation as stunting perennials from tulips in March, roses in June to sunflowers in August made their debuts. A kaleidoscope of brilliant hues and blooms. And I didn’t have a clue as to what they were. Hailing from south Florida, I was gardening-challenged.

At least they were perennials. In Florida I’d tried and failed (numerous times) to grow simple annuals such as zinnias. Waving the white flag of surrender, I’d converted my front yard flower bed into a rock garden. And forget the tomatoes I’d tried to grow in the backyard. Bugs and uninvited bunnies had helped themselves to a banquet before we could enjoy them.

When we moved to New England, I thought I’d have another crack at gardening. Wasn‘t New England known for gardening? At least I wouldn’t be fighting those colossal Florida grasshoppers the size of miniature bunnies.

At first I was gun-ho. Before all my moving boxes were unpacked, I’d dashed to the local library to check out gardening books. Identifying each flower with photos from library books, I even made name tags, planting them in the ground.

After a long winter, I applauded when my crotons first reappeared, sprouting through the ground, ushering in spring.

But just as the bugs invaded my garden, the writing bug bit me. I admit it…I’d much rather dig in a thesaurus than dig in dirt. Yet, lately, I was in a writing slump, tempted to put my writing on the shelf (next to my garden tools).

The realtor tapped on the sunroom sliding glass door, interrupting my thoughts.

“Thanks,” she said. “I’ll pop in later with my report.”

“My pleasure,” I lied, still embarrassed over my garden. Why hadn’t I just bulldozed the entire mess down and converted it into another rock garden?

I sipped my tea, wondering how much money my house was worth….If only I’d spent more time in the garden. Too bad gardening isn’t my cup of tea, I pouted, comforting myself with a new brand of cinnamon brew.

The mail came. Bills and more rejection letters.…I’m not a writer, either, I sighed.

Ending my pity party, I checked my email, noting a message from someone who’s name I didn’t recognize.

It read…”I just wanted to thank you for your online article on “Finishing the Race“ Your article on perseverance encouraged me…. Thanks and God bless you.”

I encouraged someone? Almost forgotten about that article. And to think the reader whom I’d encouraged, also encouraged me..

I shot up a prayer….Forgive me, Lord, for coveting a gift you didn’t give me…And thank you that you have given me the gift of exhortation, of encouraging others…..and maybe even the gift of writing……?

Maybe I will keep writing. After all, I write for God. Not for money or recognition.

Yes, a rock garden for our new home will work just fine…..And better keep these artificial plants for my new sunroom. Hmm... What’s wrong with a condo?

Okay, I admit it…Gardening is not my cup of tea. But writing for God is.

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This article has been read 1109 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Frances Roberts09/14/06
Your story was folksy,friendly, believable, and felt like a chat over the backyard fence.
Lynda Schultz 09/14/06
Thanks for the encouragment (see, you do have a gift even if it isn't gardening!) I needed a good word this afternoon. Just a note - I think it's "gung-ho" but didn't stop to look it up. Never mind, it didn't effect the great message. Good job.
Val Clark09/15/06
A very visual story which gave a clear sense of place and the writer's character. A good reminder to not try to be what we aren't! yeggy
Joanne Sher 09/15/06
Love the conversational tone of this - and a wonderful lesson for all of us - especially me at the present!! Kept me interested from beginning to end!
Janell Price09/17/06
I enjoyed your story and your transparency. Especially liked the line, "I’d much rather dig in a thesaurus than dig in dirt."

Me, too. Except that I love plants and I'm good with them. But not as much as I love writing!

God bless you in your choice!
Marilyn Schnepp 09/18/06
Gardening is not my cup of tea (one of my favorite sayings, by the way) so I understand. Nice job on the subject however, the word "gung-ho" needs a "g"...which incidentally WAS my cup of tea (ex Marine Corps). Well done.
Beth Muehlhausen09/19/06
Nice lead - caught my attention right away.

I liked this part b/c of its honesty: "But just as the bugs invaded my garden, the writing bug bit me. I admit it…I’d much rather dig in a thesaurus than dig in dirt. Yet, lately, I was in a writing slump, tempted to put my writing on the shelf (next to my garden tools)."

I also noticed the "gung-ho" typo...

A realistic story and easy to identify with!

Jen Davis09/19/06
A lively and enjoyable read with a good message. I assume you meant "stunning" perennials instead of "stunting." This story really did feel as Frances described like a "chat over the backyard fence." Keep writing and encouraging!
Jan Ackerson 09/19/06
Ooh, I think we're twins...I could really relate to this piece! Like the idea of the rock garden at the end. Nice, friendly, relaxed voice.
Donna Powers 09/19/06
Very nice! And you echo many here in their desire to please the Lord by using the gift He has given us. Thanks for sharing this!
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/19/06
I like the chatty style of this story. Good job!
Sharlyn Guthrie09/20/06
I like your slant on the topic. I wondered how the non-gardeners might approach the subject, and I like how you addressed the issue head-on with "not my cup of tea". Great job!
Melanie Kerr 09/20/06
I could really connect with this one! I too have coveted a gardener’s skill, but have to confess that it really isn’t there. I too need to simply enjoy the gifts I do have! I am not sure that the really big spaces between such short paragraphs was helpful to me as the reader.