Guest Bloggers

Fertile Ground

Guest Blogger Brenda Bellinger offers inspiration to write:

In these quiet days of sheltering at home, I’m grateful to be able to sink my ungloved hands into the moist soil of our vegetable garden and ready it for planting. I welcome the dirt under my fingernails and even the resistance of the weeds. There is so much uncertainty right now about what will happen in the next few months when, I’m hoping, our vegetables will be ready to harvest.

There is fertile ground here, too, for us as writers. We are the ones who will be compelled to document what is happening all around us right now in response to the Covid-19 virus and its global effects. Some of us will craft poems to capture the historical significance of this pandemic, its devastation and how it already has, and will likely forever, change some of our behaviors. Others may write about losing loved ones or coping with caring for family members who are ill, at-risk, or distant. So many stories are aching to be told — the stories behind the headlines and incessant tally of grief — mothers giving birth alone, cancer patients faced with deferring treatment, jobs lost, businesses shuttered, our elderly in isolation. Parents who are able to work from home are facing the exhausting challenge of simultaneously home-schooling their children. The points of view are endless: hospital workers, first responders, the unemployed or furloughed, teachers, children, the homeless, migrant workers. The list goes on.

Our lives and daily routines upended, I’m reminded of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We’ve had to move quickly through these as best we can in order to cope. We’ve adapted pretty well, in my opinion, to the new “social-distancing” model and limiting ourselves to only “essential” errands away from home. Strangers show kindness and courtesy to each other as we maintain six feet of distance and communicate with eyes that smile or roll above our masks in commiseration. Grandparents have learned to use technology to visit their grandchildren over video connections. Some businesses are retooling equipment to fabricate personal protection devices for medical personnel. A cottage industry of at-home crafters is turning out fabric face masks by the thousands. Comfort foods and homemade cookies have made a comeback. The sky over Delhi, India has turned blue and perhaps the planet is beginning to heal itself, just a teeny tiny bit.

During this rare gift of time in place, I encourage you to step outdoors in the spring sunshine, enjoy the fresh air and listen to the sounds of the birds again. Then, pick up your pen and write your way through this, for yourself and for those who may look to your words for guidance or comfort in the years to come.

Brenda Bellinger writes from an empty nest on an old chicken farm in Northern California. Her work has appeared in Small Farmer’s Journal, Mom Egg Review, Persimmon Tree, THEMA, the California Writers Club Literary Review, and in various anthologies, including The Write Spot: Reflections.

Brenda has been honored with first place awards for non-fiction and flash fiction at the Mendocino Coast and Central Coast Writers Conferences, respectively.

Taking Root is her first novel.

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