Thursday, February 24, 2011

Three Gardeners with Good Intentions

My mother is an artist. One of my earliest memories are going to weavers guild meetings and keeping quietly busy while she worked her shift at Woman Craft, a cooperative gallery on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I cannot count the artist groups she has belonged to since.

Creativity needs company but, as with all things there are pluses and minuses to being in a group. Writers suffer from anxiety of influence. Artists see completed works and stifle their ideas because its all been done before.

I have shied away from writers groups. I blame the busy schedule of a stay at home mom, but really, I'm just kind of shy. So I laugh when I realize that my sister Catherine and I have formed an ad hoc artist group with our friend Lisa Sowers. They are my fellow gardeners: A painter, a writer and a potter.

Three women, three different genres. No cannibalism. No jealousies. No cross overs. Just support.

Every mom knows that three is a terrible number for play dates. But creatively we are like an over caffeinated perpetual motion machine. One of us is always giving the others that spark to get back in there and keep working.

One of the purposes for this blog is to serve as my contribution to the group. My goal is to share our process and progress and hopefully other creative minds will get inspired along the way. 

Visually, it is easier to share the processes of my fellow gardeners.  This is one of Catherine's latest paintings.  You can find more of her work on flikr:
 Last summer, I got to watch this tea set come to life starting with early peas growing in Lisa's garden, to an idea in wet clay, to fired bisque and then the final product emerging from a hot kiln.  Very exciting stuff.   You can find more from Lisa Sowers at etsy and on facebook.!/pages/LAS-Pottery/347880474621

Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome to the Garden of Good Intentions

      Today was such a warm day for February that I put on sandals and started getting the garden ready for Spring. The wattle fence (brand new in this photo) is two years old and needs a face lift, the container beds need manure, the forgotten beets and woody carrots need to be pulled. I started planning my crops, determined that this year will be better than last year. 

      Every Winter I look forward to Spring and getting into the garden. But as the summers progress the garden never quiet yields what I expected it to.

     In an act of self awareness and self deprecation, I started calling it my Garden of Good Intentions. Every fall as the last burst of tomatoes come in I make a list of all my gardening flops. It's a long list.

     Pill bugs ate the zucchini stems because I planted them in too much shade. A seven year old boy ate all the asparagus as soon as they could pop up. Deer ate the peppers. Two giggling children ate the peas. Squash Blossoms went into magic potions. An over enthusiastic beagle mutt dug up the onions. Square foot gardening doesn't really work with red clay. The lettuce bolted. The caterpillars won.

     Lots of flops but lots of joy. It just feels good to garden.

     As I defend my Garden of Good Intentions to friends and neighbors who use seven dust or have genetically green thumbs I remember that it is just fine to take a risk once in a while. So the beans are a little yellow and low on nitrogen. So what. I'll do it different next year. And hey, I let my daughter stick some peas in the ground on a late season whim and she enjoyed quite the bumper crop. We are all learning all the time in my garden of good intentions.

     Taking these risks helped me get back into writing. I had been a stay at home mom for 7 years. Too busy to do anything that wasn't “productive.” Being creative means taking intellectual risks. I remind myself all the time that I should approach my craft with the same attitude that I have in my garden. Enjoy the flops, share them and laugh out loud when they are really outrageous. Glow in the good times and always keep planning for the next season.

     It has been 18 months since I started writing with determination and purpose again. This week I officially became a writer. I received my first rejection slip and I love it. “Dear Writer” they said. Not “Dear Driveler” or “Dear Ms. Gurri.”