Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chapter Seven - Part Three - Needs of the Crop

Everything about thinking about planting an orchard appeals to me at the moment. Orchards exist in climates that I like: Tropical, Subtropical and moderate climates, near ample water and there seem to be lots of different ways of approaching planning an orchard. You can even mix species like quince and apples, for instance. You can plant orchards more like a forest, making them ecologically friendly with a more diverse environment, and still get good fruit production. Orchards, as I've tried to emphasize before, can be shared by a larger community, too. All of these are wonderful metaphors for what I dream my writing could be with some planning. Orchards can survive for multiple generations and serve as habitats for animals and birds that are losing ground to ugly housing developments. Orchards have substance.

When I dream of people reading my work, then it my hope is that the experience is something like sitting in a summer orchard, hearing birds twerp and the rustle of animals, seeing the shadows cast by leaves and branches on patches of earth and grass, feeling the breeze upon their cheeks, looking up through the deep greens back-lit by the sun, and enjoying the scent of ripening fruit. Not too much to ask, right? Living in the world as it is now, it is so easy to lose track of these simple pleasures, and my hope is that my stories will evoke a desire for more peace, even as they examine our problems and needs. For every orchard has more than one season, and every orchard faces challenges, but in the end there is hopefully fruit to share.

In China, peaches are a symbol of longevity. They originated in China as long ago as the 10th century BC. They came to the Americas on Spanish galleons in the 16th century, and were spread by Native Americans on their wanderings. The culture of peaches includes a temperate zone that encircles the earth, and they've grown in most of the places where I have actually lived. So, it is the peach that will serve as my metaphoric orchard in writing this new world. We'll see what we learn from the planning I need for this crop.

The first good thing about peaches that I see is that they need more nitrogen (fertilizer) than other crops. This is good because I've fertilized the heck out of my field. Giggle. So I hope that when I can dig up the soil and test it that it will prove to be in good condition for the kind of crop I'm thinking of planting.

Peach orchards need lots of sun and a good breeze to keep cold air from settling in on the trees. How as a writer can I bring that material light and mental flow to my practice? I suppose it might be time to think about my workspace and the mental inspirations that I let into that space. In my case, because our family lives in an apartment, and my office is in the living room, it will come down to timing. When I write I will need good light, and also quiet -- which means when the kids are around I probably won't be using the space to write. This means when the kids are around, I'll need to either write before they rise in the morning or after they sleep at night. Since my husband is a night owl, who enjoys watching anime into the wee hours, that leaves me the early morning to create a regular writing practice. It simply is what it is. If I am to have this writing dream grow, I have to commit to creating the right conditions for it. Sigh. This somewhat feels like a sacrifice, but perhaps, I need to realize it is not forever. I am not always a morning person, but I can see the logic in becoming one for the sake of this project.

There is so much to think about as I plan my orchard of writing. It feels good to have a plan, if not actual growth of the product at the moment.


Anonymous said...

At blog post 100 I finally realized that your facebook updates were connected to a blog and started reading(from the beginning). I'm still catching up and wanted to wait to post a comment until I did. But--there are peaches on the trees in my backyard that I just noticed this week. It's the first fruit on the trees in the three years I have lived in this house. I love your extended metaphor and will think of it--and you-- as I watch these peaches grow.
more soon, kathryn (steele)

Amanda Morris Johnson (aka Amanda Morris Conti) said...

I hope your peaches are tender and sweet as the peaches I want to grow! Thank you for your diligence! Wow.