“I’ve got nothing to lose and only myself to please,” she said, as if it were fact.
We stood in midday heat, puzzling out changes to make in her garden. She, a widow with grown children and young grandchildren; a snowbird wintering elsewhere, summering here; a small woman with copper and gold highlights in her hair. These are the facts. Yet, which paragraph is more evocative?
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Man has once again nominated gardenhood for a blog award. It’s a fact. Yet what does it reveal? Think about that for a couple of seconds, while I thank Kevin profusely for the nomination, his kind support of my writing, and the many ways his own writing cheers and teaches me.
Now for a disclaimer, an aside, a disruption in the flow of the narrative, which breaks a cardinal rule of good writing (except when Shakespeare did it). I decided to accept the award only because it came from Kevin. Near as I can tell, these awards (and there are quite a few), are designed to up a blog’s visibility and readership. There’s no competition, no voting, no academy of blogospheric accomplishments. There are only rules to follow, and then you claim the award. The rules involve thanking the nominator and providing a link to their site, revealing information about yourself, and nominating and linking to other sites. It’s actually a lot of work. Well, it is for me. So, I decided to bend the rules, only because thinking about how to follow them, I turned them into writing exercises, a way to kick out the winter holiday induced block in my writing life.
Which seemed like more fun and more fair to you.
So, on with it.
The first exercise: What can you tell about a person with eleven unembellished facts? It probably depends on the person (in this case yours truly) and the facts. What’s your guess?
- 1) In the John F. Kennedy high school class of 1971 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2) my name appears in alphabetical order right after Jim’s, 3) and he reads gardenhood.
- 4) I went to northern Minnesota and acquired an accent.
- 5) I still have it, sort of.
- 6) My brand new Hausschuhe are felted Haflinberger clogs.
- 7) On the same day I bought them I also bought chains for my hiking shoes.
- 8) I start each day by saying out loud, “Yes, thank You!”
- 9) The vision for the flat corner lot is under reconstruction.
- 10) My hair is its own color.
- 11) I complete my 60th solar return on February 3 at 1:41 Mountain time.
Exercise two: Kevin asked me 11 questions. I’ll provide the answers. It’s like writing only one side of a dialog. Can you discern the questions in the answers?
Mid morning. Because it still feels like anything can happen and I usually have even more energy than when I awoke.
I was in first grade, and I stayed in from recess because I was having so much fun writing a story. That summer I planted carrots in the sandbox, my first garden.
When Breakfast Club came out in 1985, I lived 80 miles and an international border from the nearest movie theatre. So, I have no idea in which high school group I best fit. I’m not sure I would know now, even if I had a movie to guide me.
I write at the solid oak desk I inherited from my father in a room I call the studio. I always feel like I’m steeping when I’m here.
I laugh in pure joy whenever I hear the choral movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony.
On a television talent show, my talent would be making a graceful exit.
The dandelion. Tough, resilient, bright, entirely useful, prolific.
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. Because it engages all my senses, including my sense of wonder and magic.
I live where rain is an event, and rarely falls a whole day. I rejoice whenever it happens.
Carl Sagan. Then what happens?
Exercise three: If you wanted to get a group of people with diverse backgrounds interested in a complete stranger, what questions would you ask the stranger? What questions would you like someone to ask of you? Next are a few of mine.
What are your growing edges, in gardening or in life?
Describe the place on earth where you are most at home.
What do you listen for in the voices of others?
What have you always wanted to tell your mother and never dared?
How do you deal with imperfection?
What is your definition of beauty?
How have your perspectives changed in the last decade?
What is your best memory from middle school?
What does the smell of roses evoke for you?
How do you relax?
What are people most likely to say about you?
One more confession: I’m exhausted by research. I have the sort of personality that wants to jump headlong into synthesis with only a handful of information. I constantly rewrite sentences to fill in the blanks I jump over, eager to get to the next idea. When it comes to finding blogs to read or recommend, I prefer to let others do the vetting for me. Over the last two years, that strategy hasn’t netted me a very long list. In the interest of meeting my final requirement — that of nominating 11 blogs and putting their writers through this gauntlet — I trudged out into the blogosphere digging for some new ones. My criteria surfaced as I searched. I looked for whimsy, beauty, smiles, a sense of connection, and writing that pulled the mud-heavy boots from my heart. After far too many hours, and feeling like I’d just read 15 seed catalogs cover to cover, I pooped out. At nine.
I know most of you stop by to read gardenhood and aren’t looking for other reads. Maybe, like me, you feel as though you’re spending way too much time staring at blue-lighted screens and not enough time looking at soft white paper, kind faces, beautiful landscapes, and living earth. Nonetheless, if you’d like to visit a few other sites, here you go.
Griffins and Gingersnaps
A 3 Acre Farm (Kevin already nominated this blog for the award, but I wanted to recommend it to you).
Lelo in Nopo
Richard Huston Art