Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Veggie Love

pole beans in May
pole beans in July

 I feel as rich as Jack who survived the giant and ran off with the golden-egg laying goose. I am loving these pole beans. They just sat in the garden and grew for the eleven days I was at Hamline and this morning I picked two pounds and fifteen ounces! We ate them for breakfast and they were delicious--the perfect complement to eggs and toast.

I'm not sure what is so satisfying about growing pole beans. Perhaps it's the contrast between the shriveled, dry bean seeds that I put in the ground and these lush plants that are working so successfully to make more seeds. I'll help them by saving seeds for next year. (And I'll be glad to share seeds with anyone who wants to try pole beans.)  As our Mount Vernon neighbor Bob Baxa used to say, "It's a miracle.." He was one of the best gardeners I ever knew and he was aware of the mystery of growing plants.

One thing I have learned from the beans is patience. They have their own rhythm and frequent trips to the back yard to check on their progress during the early summer did nothing to speed their growth. I'm trying to bring that lesson to my writing desk, to not want to have written a story, but to be present for the process, not to force the story, but to show up, be there when the story blooms.

Patience is easier for one who's just returned from eleven days at the Hamline MFA residency filled with thoughts of lectures reminding us that we give our characters heart and emotion by giving them action--a particular walk, a posture, a way of holding their hands and arms, a facial expression; reminding us of the powerful tools that are voice and point of view.  We get to voice through word choice, phrasing, speech tics, speakers' consistent concerns. We choose point of view to fit the story we are telling. We considered point of view in our workshops and in our lectures and were pleased to notice the difference a re-write from first person to intrusive third can make in a particular story. 

We also talked about the current landscape of children's literature and the need for diversity. Just since the residency students have set up a webpage to promote diversity in children's literature. 

We all left armed with energy and ideas. More than beans are growing in the midwest this summer.


  1. Those beans look wonderful! And healthier than our beans in Vermont, half-eaten by a rabbit last month. But they persisted, and finally some beans dangle, waiting for grandkids to pick them this weekend. Their determination to thrive reminds me of writers who roll up their sleeves after rejections and revise their stories yet again. Happy gardening and writing!

  2. I don't know why the rabbits aren't bothering our beans. Maybe it's our neighbor's dog that's frightening them away. Hope so.
    And now back to rolling up sleeves...