A blade of grass grows from one of two hanging baskets in my front yard. In years past, I’ve grown petunias or moss roses in those baskets. This year, well, I hung the baskets.
Another transition is upon us as the earth spins and the weather shifts. In my small bubble of the world, I can enjoy a pristine blade of grass that grew to shine as the featured plant in a flower basket.
For centuries, likely for thousands of years, humans have pondered blades of grass and recreated their image in our depths. From Wadsworth to Whitman, the human soul becomes the one thing growing in my flower basket.
How amazing is that? How amazing, a blade of grass.
Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept. And when spring came she waked again—and she was a blade of grass. And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered to herself, “O these autumn leaves! They make such noise!Kahlil Gibran
Another poet goes deeper and portrays the interconnectedness between nature and art. Brian Patten compares a poem to a blade of grass (you can read the poem in the Blue Ridge Journal).
How long have humans been living and we still can write something meaningful through nature images? And we continue to feel so compelled; we long to create as much as we need to communicate. In the reverse, it also improves our sense of well-being when we go outside or view art.
This coming Saturday, September 30 the Keweenaw Interactive Art Walk is set to invite yoopers outside to walk a path through an art show that features 20 local paintings (by TOJ) paired with 20 stories by writer from Carrot Ranch. The full experience includes art activities to encourage people to paint and craft with words. This is the fun we can have when we collaborate with artists and audiences. A sense of play can grow our craft, too.
Consider Gibran’s “Said a Blade of Grass.” What can you learn about your own writing by imitating his? In my first college-level creative writing class, Dr. Stottlemeyer had us students write an imitation of a passage by Hemingway. The lesson stuck with me for three reasons. First, I learned how Hemmingway’s strategy to “write tight” made his stories feel punchy. I appreciated how the author spread the flesh thin on the solid bones of story. Second, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life writing tight. I liked the feel of it; a kidskin glove to my dominant writing hand.
The third reason the imitation activity made a lasting impression on me distills to one word — play. The assignment reminded me of Mad Libs, the game you play with a group of people replacing sentence components for hilarious results when read with the new words. Word games that instill a sense of play can be our best teachers.
If technology and time cooperate this weekend, I plan to launch a Virtual Art Walk on September 30. It’s meant to invoke play and the encouragement to get outside and connect our art to nature. To feel the inspiration of breeze in our hair, the whispers of a story from moving water, and the impulse to capture something beautiful, tragic, or both in a sunset. While I can’t supply you with paints and brushes or colored pens, I will include DIY art activities with suggestions for alternatives. Look for the post on September 30 or October 1.
Meanwhile, go play with a blade of grass!
September 26, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a blade of grass. What can you compare it to? Or in contrast? Is it a character prop or a story linchpin? Go poetic, go any genre or tone. Go where the prompt leads!
- Submit by October 7, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
- Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
- A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
- Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
- Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.