It isn’t hard to find something to be unhappy about these days. The melting ice caps. Racial and economic injustice. The high cost of education and medical care. The opioid epidemic. I suppose Lent is as good a season as any to be miserable as we recognize the grievous condition of the human heart and of the harm our actions have wrought on humanity.
I had fun this past weekend, sharing about writing with children at the Homeschoolers of Maine Convention, just up the coast in Rockport. One of my top tips for writers of any age – and one I live by – is to try to experience whatever it is you are writing about.
When I was in middle school, I stood beside my mother on a small-town sidewalk, holding a white-painted sign that said, “We love babies. Let them live.” In high school, I wore a T-shirt to class that read, “Babies, things we throw away?” and gave a persuasive speech on why I believed that abortion was wrong. As a newlywed, I held my husband’s hand outside my state capitol and prayed with others to end the systematic, widespread use of abortion.
With the deep chill of a Maine February upon us and five children hanging around our house on a one-week school vacation, it was time to get out and have fun. So, while our older children played a board game around the kitchen table, my husband, Dana, and I gathered our two youngest boys and headed to a local pool. No sooner were we in the water, than 5-year-old Ezra spotted his former swimming teacher and paddled over to join her class.
What compelled me to take my mother’s mystery houseplant, I don’t recall. Its smooth, reed-like fronds grew outward from a single, papery stalk in the shape of a fan. My mother kept it in a plastic pot – the kind in which you might bring home a tomato plant from a nursery. Nothing showy. And the plant wasn’t either. “Give it a little water once a week,” Mom said, forgetting what it was called. “It blooms once every year or so, but if you’re patient, the flowers are spectacular.”