Monday, November 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: The Zen of Hopefulness

I have erased more words this week than I have written. Make that for two weeks. The longer my brain freezes up, the more stressed I become. Compulsively checking the internet a hundred times a day isn’t helping. The news makes my throat close up. I actually choked on an innocent sip of coffee the other day while watching the news. It’s hard to avoid, really.

I think I’ve mentioned here before how much I love gardening. (That seems like a right turn, but stay with me here.) When I was younger, I never thought much about why I gardening spoke to me. I just loved the way flowers looked in my yard. Learning to care for the rose bushes I planted, how to meticulously cut them back in winter and feed them in the spring and earn an explosion of blooms as my reward. The miracle when the Boysenberries on my back fence produced juicy berries that would fill buckets and get shared with neighbors and friends. My tomatoes graced salads all summer long beside the basil, peppers and zucchini I grew.

I squeezed in my gardening time around my writing schedule and my children, and discovered it filled my well in a way other things could not. But still, it was just something I did. I was intentional about it, but I suppose I took it for granted. I would always have a garden, right? There will always be the next planting season.

Nope. Having moved to the mid-west to be nearer our daughter and grandkids, we don’t have a garden space and now I found myself longing for one. Never more than these last couple of weeks when I realize that planting growing things is an investment in the future. A promise, if you will, that things will get better, more abundant. Even hopeful. I need that.

In the same way, the books I write are an investment in that same hopefulness. I suppose that is why we are drawn to romance, the promise of a happy ending, the hope that everything will work itself out. In my books, seeds of promise are planted and the fun is watching them grow, despite adversity. And whether we’re gardeners or writers, activists or mothers, planting hope is something we women are pretty good at. We tend to that hope in different ways, but right now, I think it’s important to remember that we are the keepers of the garden. The watchers of the blooms.

This week, I bought some fancy, imported, double Dutch tulip bulbs for my daughter’s garden (Yay! She’s willing to share!) and yesterday I put them in the ground. The bulbs were smooth and plump and ready for the cold winter to come. Bursting with promise for next spring. I fed them a little bone meal and tucked them under the soil for the winter. And one day, late next spring, they’ll surprise me. Little green buds will come pushing out of the soil. And when they bloom, I’ll remember this day I planted them with their secret promise to remind me that “Hope is a thing with feathers,” (Thanks, Emily Dickenson) or, in my case, petals.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Barbara’s latest book, “The Cowgirl’s Christmas Wish”—a story chock full of hope and the third installment of her The Canadays of Montana series—is available now at all e-retail outlets and is available in print.


dstoutholcomb said...

Happy Thanksgiving!


Barbara Ankrum said...

Thanks, Denise! You, too!

Sarah S. said...