April 5, 2021

The "Inspiration" Part of the Writing Life

My new picture book, Lucy's Blooms, was inspired by an experience in my own garden, many years ago. As I diligently tended to the flowers in my carefully prepared flowerbeds, I observed two additional plants that had independently sprouted in a patch of soil that bordered my front walkway. They looked something like this:

Link to Image Credit

I didn’t know what these plants were, only that they were beautiful and thriving. Eventually, more experienced gardeners informed me that these plants were actually weeds, and I was advised to pull them. This vigorous and lively pair of weeds brought me such joy as I passed by them day after day, I couldn’t fathom the idea of discarding them. Instead, I nurtured them. I watered them, I talked to them, and I admired them as they grew and grew…and grew.

As I reflected on this experience, I considered the impact of socially constructed labels, such as beauty and worth, and how these labels impact our everyday actions. I became fascinated by dandelions, in particular, because they are widely considered to be an invasive nuisance that should be controlled/eliminated, and yet, every part of a dandelion (root, leaves, petals, etc.) is edible, they are rich in nutrients, and they are known to have healthful, curative properties. Plus, they are easy to grow, resilient, wildly familiar to (and beloved by) children, and in my view, absolutely beautiful.

And thus were planted, the seeds of Lucy’s Blooms.

Published by West Margin Press

Some years later, as the manuscript for Lucy’s Blooms was still germinating, artist and activist Mona Caron painted a fireweed on a building in Portland, Oregon, my hometown.

Link to Photo Credt

I began to research her work and found myself taken with many of the things she had to say, such as:

I also found myself drawn to this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

I ruminated on these quotes and ideas, as I continued to revise Lucy's Blooms until it captured the essence of what I wanted to say.

And what better day to share this with you than today, National Dandelion Day (yep, that's a thing.)

And to celebrate, I'll end with a fun dandelion-related activity for all ages:


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