The Stamina of Collard Greens

I’m having a funky day.  Nothing’s wrong, but nothing feels particularly right either.  I’ve been hitting a wall with an article I’m writing.  I’ve dedicated dozens of pages and hours to something that needs to be 1,000 words or less.  This seemingly fruitless place today reminded me of a story, so that’s a bright spot.  It’s about collard greens and art.

I was talking with a friend one day about the many times I’ve started writing or art projects and then abandoned them.  I never felt bad about abandoning them.  I felt I’d given it a shot but my idea just hadn’t been a good one.  And, important things like teaching and taking care of day-to-day life needed my attention.  I never felt badly leaving those projects behind and thought little about them.

I lost track of telling my story as an image of my collard greens came to mind.  I’d purchased spindly starts in May and put them in my smallest raised bed.  The stalks eventually thickened and straightened up a little, but shortly after the leaves started to broaden, moths laid eggs on the underside and creepy looking, flat, gray aphid-like mite-things crowded the stem and leaves in thick colonies.

The moth eggs turned into tiny but ravenous worms that chewed the leaves into lace.  I’m not sure what the aphid-like mite-things did except repel me from wanting to put those leaves anywhere near my mouth.

I decided to rip out the collards.

“Just like I quit working on writing and art so many times in the past,” I told my friend.  I never knew I was quitting.  I just tidied up my work space like I wanted to tidy up the small raised bed and let my mind drift to other things.

However, instead of ripping out the collards, I decided to leave them until the carrots along the perimeter of the bed grew more because what was left of the collard leaves would shade the carrots from harsh sun as the summer wore on.

Since I had to water the carrots, I watered the collards too, spraying off the moth eggs and gray creepy things every other day.

Well, the collards survived.  Then they flourished.  Then we ate bunches of their leaves every few days for much of the summer.  Now that it’s fall, the leaves are bigger, greener, and sweeter than they’ve ever been.  I munch on raw ones standing right there in the back yard, like fresh peas in early spring, so sweet.

“So, your writing and art are like the collards?” my friend surmises.

“Maybe.” I say.

Today, I am going to test the theory.  I’m hoping these murky days serve a purpose.  Maybe something’s happening at the root that I can’t see.  Maybe if I sit through creativity’s equivalent of moth eggs and creepy mite things, I’ll get to discover what the collards are experiencing because they sure make it look lovely.

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