When I was lifting flats of just-planted seeds onto a shelf in our basement cold room one February a couple years ago, my hand slipped. One of those flats abruptly upended and strewed Pro-mix and seeds all over the old picture frames and rusty bird cages stacked on the cement floor
There go the primroses. I knew that with sinking certainty, even before I looked at the label on the flat. After all, it's never the seeds you don't particularly care about -- like cabbages or cauliflowers -- which get spilled. It's always the gold-laced primroses.
I told myself firmly at the time that I couldn’t complain about losing one type of flower, when I had so many more. Just as I couldn’t complain about recently losing my job of ten years, because it was a good job while it lasted, and supported me when my career as a novelist seemed stalled.
I couldn’t even complain about the weather. It had been an unusually mild winter, just as my problems were mild when compared to other people's. But even a mild winter seemed to drag on forever when I was waiting, on potential employers and editors or on seeds slow to sprout.
I always sow the most difficult ones early every year, because I know it will take weeks of cold conditions for some of them to germinate. I started my writing career early too, knowing it might require years of difficulty before I saw growth.
There have been a few successes. Sometimes, however, promising sprouts damp off and shrivel -- leaving me no choice except to start over again. The pre-germination period the second time around always seems even longer.
I know, however, that I have to keep planting seeds, even when a change in the weather seems unlikely. Otherwise, I’ll have nothing to contribute when spring finally. . .well. . . springs.
I can’t be sure which of those seeds will sprout, though, or when. The charm of all real life, after all, lies in its unpredictability. I may never get gold-laced primroses or a success-edged career. But perhaps something else will bloom for me that I'll love far better. That's what the waiting that irks us writers so much should be all about. Not assurances, but possibilities.
That February, I gathered what I could find of the scattered Pro-mix and returned it to the flat. I’d like to be able to report that my writing life has blossomed since then. No such luck! But, strangely enough, the seeds which had been spilled were the only primroses that sprouted for me that year. Although those poor plants got scratched up by our chickens while they were still young, I’m sure there’s a lesson in that!
Audrey Stallsmith, St. Davids Registrar, is the author of the Thyme Will Tell series of mysteries from WaterBrook Press and The Body They May Kill from Thomas Nelson. Her work has also appeared in periodicals such as Woman’s World and Birds & Blooms. She writes articles for Demand Media and Dave’s Garden, as well as her own sites, Thyme Will Tell and Inklings of Truth.