Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Traveling Bloodroot

Traveling Bloodroot is not the name of a rock band. Bloodroot is one of the prettiest of the spring "ephemerals," the spring flowers that show up in forests before the trees leaf out while there is still sunshine on the forest floor.

We don't have a forest in our yard, but a few years ago a dear friend gave us some blood root plants. I put them in a northeast corner and enjoyed them every spring.

Then they disappeared, stopped coming up. A few years later, they showed up several yards away under our apple tree. I looked there for them this spring. No bloodroot. They had migrated west along the fence, past the roses, into the daylilies.

I do not know how these plants with the beautiful white flowers (and roots that bleed red when they are cut) do this. It's a mystery.

But it reminds me of writing (doesn't everything?). The ideas that are really important to us keep showing up. They move from one work to another. We can't always anticipate their appearance. They may surprise us. But because such ideas are part of our mental make up they find their way into our stories.

There are the times we come up with a character who doesn't really fit the story we are working on so we retire that character to the shelf, only to have them appear again in the next story, insisting that we pay attention.

Something is going on underground. It's a mystery. We can honor the mystery by showing up at the writing place, by writing, even when we aren't so sure. Bloodroot is gone by summer, no more flowers, few leaves. But the roots are there, waiting for the next spring. The stories are there, too, just waiting.

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