What does gardening have to do with my work? Nothing, because I am a writer. And yet, everything.
Always one to need a good bit of time alone, I’d hide out under the tangle of forsythia in the yard, just out of earshot of my mother hollering from the back porch for a chore-ready child. I’d prop myself up in the soft dirt, poke a hole in the leaf cover overhead for sunlight, and read.
The summer before I turned ten, I read The Secret Garden. I decided I needed a garden like Mary, Colin, and Dickon had. I tore all the leaves off the branches overhead, fluffed up the soil in my hideout and planted flowers.
All petals and no roots, they weren’t destined to do well. I’m not stupid. I learned from my mistakes. Start from good seeds. Pull weeds. Pat the soil. Sprinkle liberally with water. That was when the initial stories flowed within me. As I worked, I planted my stories, telling them to each flower, branch, and stone.
Now, at the beginning of my day, I weed. I pat the soil. I sprinkle the various plants with various amounts of water. And I remember those tales I told so long ago. Like good garden compost, the stories are richer for having been buried all this time.
I’m working on one of those now, a children’s story for all those kids who want a horse more than anything. My own dream come true.