As I left the neighborhood this weekend to go to a meeting, I lamented how dreary and “ugly” it’s been here in South Texas for the past week. No sun in at least five days. Then I turned onto the road behind our subdivision and saw a massive carpet of beautiful bluebonnets blooming in a yard. I smiled and turned up the radio. My whole day changed. It may be snowing up north, but spring has sprung here. The more rain we receive, the more wildflowers we’ll enjoy. I love plants. I love flowers. I love having them all over the house, inside and out.
I also love the idea of grubbing in the dirt, smelling the peat moss, and planting the seedlings. But a green thumb, I do not have. The plant doctor at our house is my husband. He has been for almost thirty years. When we moved into our house, the backyard was a sea of dirt. It didn’t even have grass. The front yard had grass, two twigs that the Realtor called trees, and some fire bushes under the windows. That was it. I have wonderful memories of the hours we spent wandering through nurseries, debating the pros and cons of flowers and plants and trees. We took turns pulling the little wobbly-wheeled carts with our precious pots over uneven stone walkways. It smelled like fresh dirt. The air was warm and humid. Bees zoomed around us.
Years later, the tiny burr oak and red oak trees Tim planted with the kids now tower over the second-floor windows. In the late spring and early summer, the backyard blazes with the yellow bells, orange pride of barbados, and the purple and red salvias and lantanas. These flowers thrive in the intense south Texas heat. In fact, the hotter it is, the more they grow and bloom. The more they bloom, the more hummingbirds and butterflies visit us.
Flowers have a therapeutic value that can’t be duplicated by any pill. I sit at my breakfast table in the morning with my bagel and coffee and stare out at them as I write my stories in my head. Tim used to come home from work and stand in the backyard, a hose in his hand, watering the flowers while he destressed. He spends hours reworking the small garden along the fence, trying different plants, growing tomatoes, jalapenos, and serrano peppers alongside the flowers. He weeded, pruned, and did battle with predators who stole the vegetables.
These life experiences tuck themselves into my writer’s brain as I explore new stories. In Upon a Spring Breeze, the first book in my new Amish romance series, Every Amish Season, Bess Weaver’s first step in healing after tragedy is to visit a nursery, pick out her favorite flowers, take them home, and plant them. Here’s a snippet from the nursery scene:
“Take these.” He shoved a tray of golden yellow marigolds along with another of pink impatiens onto the cart. “Oh, and these. You’ll need to balance out the colors.”
“Zinneas in pinks, yellows, and fuchsia. A cornucopia of color. Somehow she felt better already, and not a single flower had graced Mattie’s garden. “Thank you.”
Watching new life sprout in the spring reminds Bess that her life isn’t over. This is a season of change in her life, just as it is in ours. Sometimes flowers are the best medicine.
Upon a Spring Breeze debuts April 11. I can’t wait to see what else blooms in my life this spring. Leave a comment below about your favorite flowers to be entered in a giveaway for an advance, signed copy of Upon a Spring Breeze, a 2017 Farmer’s Almanac, and seed packets of my favorite flowers. The name will be drawn at noon (CST) on Friday, March 17, 2017.