Apples & Writing

Lately, I’ve been embracing my identity as a writer.  I currently live at home and work on my family’s farm, so writing and agriculture have been on my mind.  I’ve been learning that writing and farming are more similar than one would think.

My family’s business is apples.  In the spring, apple trees bud and blossom.  Alone, these flowers are beautiful and fragrant, but fleeting.  It takes external forces, namely bees, to preserve their beauty.  Once the flowers are pollinated, fruit sets in.  But that’s not the end.  It takes months and months of growing and care for the fruit to grow.  Even then, it’s not always ready when you think.

This process reminds me of writing.  As a writer, I have universes in my mind.  Thoughts, feelings, ideas, entire novel length stories exist between my ears.  Sometimes when I sit down to put these sentiments to words, I find myself unable to speak.  Like apple blossoms, bursts of inspiration alone aren’t enough.  It takes external forces–life experiences–to give the inspiration the depth and meaning it needs to bear fruit.  Even then, sometimes the words aren’t ready.  It takes months and months of bouncing around in the back of my mind to grow and take shape.

We have field trips at our orchard and one of the things my mom tells the kids is actually really important: Just because an apple is red doesn’t mean it’s ripe.

It’s the same with words.  Recently, I’ve found the need to write bubbling up in my spirit and bursting forth at unexpected moments.  But just because words are building at the tip of my toungue does not mean they are ready yet.  It doesn’t mean they’re ripe.  I’ve got an ever-growing list of post ideas, but not all of them feel quite right yet.

So I wait.  I mull over the words and scribble drafts.  I put down my pen and let the world around me pollinate my ideas.  I wake up in the morning, go to work, read books, spend time with friends, and wait.

When the time comes for the words to burst forth, I’ll be ready.

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To Bobby

Why is the measure of love loss?

The opening lines of Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body have been ringing in my head.  They don’t particularly fit the situation at hand, but still they persist.  I walk across the sunlit campus, under the apple blossoms, across the grassy mall, and the words continue to resonate.

Why is the measure of love loss?

A boy from my neighborhood died this weekend.  He had been out drinking with friends and simply disappeared.  His body was found yesterday in a river.

He was in the grade below me.  His family has a farm a mile from my own.  I graduated with his sister.  My little brother played baseball with his little brother.  My best friend’s family is close with his–they call each other brother and sister.

I didn’t know him well.  In fact, I barely knew him at all.  But twenty year old kids aren’t supposed to die.

Just last week, his sister posted a photo on Instagram of him in front of a poster.  It was captioned: “Pretty proud of my brother today!!  He developed an ice cream at UWRF for part of the URSCA that substitutes cream with dried buttermilk!  Make sure you save me some!  #proudsister

That was five days ago.  Now he’s gone.

I can’t help but think–what if it was MY little brother?  What if it was me?

This is the time of year when everything is growing and the sun is shining and the future is ours to grasp.

It’s not supposed to end in mourning.