Happy Monday, everyone! Our Orange Karen anthology submission countdown continues. For those keeping count, 12 more sleeps until the deadline of December 15th! I know some writers are just coming off of their NaNoWriMo wins and are feeling a bit hungover from ink-slinging. In order to help you muster up some inspiration and perspiration to get a short story written, K.D. McCrite reminds us, that even though things seem desolate on the surface, an abundance of activity is going on underneath.
How to Take Over the World Like a Philodendron
My grandmother raised a plant that could have starred in The Day of the Triffids, that old 1962 sci-fi movie. Grandma’s plant did not take over the world, but it probably could have if Grandma had let it. For years, I longed for a lush, fast-growing philodendron like hers.
(The Day of the Triffids, 1962)
My first husband’s aunt had a philodendron that rivaled Grandma’s, and shortly after he and I were married, she gave me a cutting from her plant. I put it in water until it rooted, then bought a nice clay pot. In those days I didn’t have a green thumb like I do now. Instead of getting potting soil, I just went outside and dug up my own dirt and planted that start. That poor thing did not thrive in a pot of hard, rocky Ozarks soil, and being dried out one week and drowned the next never helped it, either. Our first house was drafty and frigid in the winter and so hot it nearly baked potatoes left sitting out on the counter in the summer. None of my plants did very well. When we finally moved to a brand new house with lots of big windows and large windowsills, I decided to start over with plants. My husband tossed the pathetic philodendron, pot and all, into a field next to his mother’s house.
Several months later, I told him I wanted that clay pot, so he retrieved it for me the next time he was at his mom’s place. The next spring, he fetched the clay pot from the trunk of the car where it had been all winter. There was no sign of the spindly philodendron any longer. I left the pot and its dirt on the carport for a while, using instead prettier, more decorative flower pots, but there came a day when I decided I needed it. I carried it to the garden where I planned to dump the dried out old soil.
Imagine my surprise when, right before I dumped that dirt, I spotted a tiny bit of green, probably no more than a quarter of an inch peeking up hopefully from that starved old soil. But how could it be? That plant had been frozen and broiled, periodically dehydrated then drowned, left in a field for months, then kept for several weeks in a cold, dark car trunk. Surely it was dead! I poked the tiny green head to find it cool and fresh with new life.
The root of that plant was strong; it must have drawn every ounce of sustenance available during its time of trauma then somehow sustained itself on nothing but its own determination. It seemed to me anything that had endured such hardship and defied every attempt to kill it deserved a second chance.
I saturated that plant until the imprisoning dirt softened and let go, then I transplanted it into new, rich soil. I settled it a sunny place and tended it carefully with good food and the right amount water at the right times. The weak or dead places had to be removed so the entire plant could thrive. Soon, the philodendron flourished. In fact, it grew so lush and so strong that it rivaled my grandmother’s plant from long ago and nearly threatened to take over the world.
K.D. McCrite writes touching and funny stories that portray ordinary people living lives from the depths of their extraordinary souls. She has three novels listed under Kathaleen Burr and published by Avalon Books: Home is the Heart, 1991; Wintersong, 1991; Rainbow Dreams, 1992, and Ozarks Farmer, Country Preacher: the Life of Paul Wesley Buchanan, 2008 (High Hill Press). Her “Confessions of April Grace” Series (Thomas Nelson Publishing) is a hilarious series for mid-grade ‘tweens. The titles include In Front of God and Everybody, 2011; Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks, 2011; and Chocolate-Covered Baloney, 2012. The debut novel for her “Eastgate” mystery series, Eastgate Keeps on Singing, (Mitchell Morris Publishing) releases this month. She also writes for Annie’s Attic Mysteries, The Deed in the Attic, 2011; The Unfinished Sonata, 2011; A Stony Point Christmas, 2012.
Her short stories have won numerous awards and have appeared The Storyteller, Woman’s World, and Kansas City Voices, she’s had several articles published in The Ozarks Mountaineer, Ozarks Reader, and Ozarks Magazine.