We have a fall tradition. Every year, we pick up a couple of pots of mums and put them out on the porch. Since we’re renters, we don’t plant them. We just leave them on the porch and enjoy them there. In the spring, usually around the time of the first grass cutting, we toss out the last years’ pots. This year, however, the first grass cutting was in mid March when it was already in the eighties. When I went to toss the mum pots, I noticed that one of the pots had plants with green leaves. That pot I kept.
By May, the mums were blooming. We had a large number of cheery flowers, bobbing and swaying in the tepid spring air. The blooms were still going strong at the start of the summer’s record breaking streak of consecutive days over eighty-five. Then came Fandomfest weekend and to my shame and horror, the untimely demise of the Chrysanthemum Spring Uprising.
Over Fandomfest Weekend, we arranged for a friend to come over and feed our cats. But I forgot to tell her to water the mums. After several days of baking in
St. Louis’s hundred plus
degree oven, the mums shriveled and turned brown. When we got home from Louisville, not a single
little messenger of hope greeted us.
Head hanging, I watered the pot daily during the next couple weeks of record setting heat. Despite the oppressive atmosphere, in the third week, I noticed the first flushes of green. Week by week, new leaves appeared. Today, there is once again more green than brown, and the plants are full of new flowers. The Miracle Mums are alive!
Watching the growing buds, it occurred to me that not only are these mums miraculous, they are also metaphoric. These mums represent writing as an avocation. At times they flourish. They come into their own at the most unexpected times. Following periods of floral fecundity, they go dormant for a while to recharge. At times they take hard hits and appear completely moribund, but deep within, the spark is still there. With a little nourishment and encouragement, they come roaring back.
Like the mums, at the peak of the heat, I couldn’t write a damn thing. As the heat wave crested, I turned out a novella and a short story. Now that it is cool enough to sleep through the night, I’m ready to go back to work on some of my larger WIPs. In September, I pushed ahead and finished a new science fiction novel in time to submit it to the Harper Voyager open call for submissions. Intellectually, I’ve always understood that there will be dry periods when writing. But emotionally, there is a corresponding need to fight the pessimism that accompanies such dry periods. Now that I have an avatar to focus on, it will be easier to remember that so long as the desire is there, eventually the words will come.
CK Copyright 10/21/12; Moral rights to be identified as the author of the foregoing article asserted worldwide (including in Great Britain in accordance with Sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act of 1988) (See prior blog on Moral Rights).