Tag Archives: musing

New Potatoes

(a one-minute read)

On the last nice day of October, before the winter rains come in earnest, I dig potatoes. Dozens of pounds of potatoes. The soil so carefully prepared yields to the fingertips. The spading fork used at the bottom of each hill is mostly for show, the soil is that good. Cleaned, but not washed, the spuds are packed carefully in their boxes, by type, between layers of straw.

Holding a potato in my hand, it is cold. Not the cold of death; it is the hand of a mittenless child. Deeply cool, but with life inside. The warmth of life stored against bitter days. Starch for the winter, fuel for the fire.

Yukon Golds, like baby ginger. Long fingerlings full of creamy tenderness. Pontiac Reds, many large enough to make an entire meal. Russets, the staple of staples.

Some of each I hold out for their eyes, for planting.

Like me, the potato is blind to the glory of its future. Yet with guidance, like me, they may see their way into becoming next year’s crop.

The Dandelion

[A 3-minute read]

At the end of its blossom cycle, the dandelion waits for the breeze. It has come again to the pinnacle of its existence. Life-giving nutrients have poured in from the earth, navigating the tubercles, the hair roots, the secondary roots, through the tap root anchoring the plant firmly in the soil.

Day after day, the plant has turned its happy yellow face to the sun, combining water and minerals from below with carbon dioxide and sunlight from above: creating energy. By osmosis through its veins, nutrients get to each cell. I am like the dandelion. My water and nutrients come through my system and into the blood, also moving through veins, deposited in each cell of my body.

The dandelion is all potential and no pretense. When it is ready, it goes. There is no hesitation. The dandelion is faith in action. It is what I would be if I had no doubts. Although I too have potential, I’m often held back by pretense.

Each of the dandelion’s 2,000 seeds has the potential to produce anther plant. There is no pretense in this either; it knows what it is about. It is following God’s command to ‘reproduce after its kind’ The dandelion is certain of its identity, and unconcerned about its future.

A seed may land just a hairsbreadth from its parent, or on a calm sunny day ride a thermal for half a mile. But it matters not to the seed. When it goes, it is ready to go, and it flies without fear. It is ready to go be a dandelion.

The future of the seed is held in the nature of its landing place. If there is good soil with good growing conditions, it prospers. If not so good, it may still prosper, if it is hardy enough. But, if it lands in stones, or water, or on pavement, or becomes some creature’s meal, it will not sprout at all. The seed’s potential to be a dandelion will be lost.

I see myself in this too, spiritual being than I am. Because I have imagination, I unwisely concern myself with my landing pad. My brain insists on knowing about the landing pad before the launch.

However, faith does not work that way. Faith is leap first, look later.

As it is, God has yet to let me down when I leap. In spite of His faithfulness it always seems that, as I ripen into seed, I question whether what He’s prepared will be good, or at least good enough. And – is it safe to go?

In those moments, it is important to remember my advantage over the dandelion. God plants the seed, but I can do my part to help Him prepare the soil. By staying close to Him, by fixing my heart on Him, I remain able to follow His command to be fruitful and multiply.

Yet the dandelion has an advantage over me. It is not a thinking being with doubts and fears and anxieties. It never questions whether God will disappoint. It never ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil like I did. It knows no shame.

The dandelion boldly pushes ahead. It always has more than enough seeds to fulfill what God asks of it. You know what? So do I. The secret is choosing to let Him work and only help when He asks me to.

Not all my seeds may find the best landing place. But I can improve their odds, and that is the best advantage of all.


If you liked this essay, you might also like this poem.

(Photo used under CC licence from PiccoloNamek at Wikimedia Commons)

February 1902

February is Too Short

Sometimes, my schedule doesn’t work. What happens on paper, stays on paper, but doesn’t make it into reality.

I’ve been promising that my memoir, Masterpiece (A Love Story) would be released in February.

Well, it won’t. But it will be out soon. I promise.

I could use the excuse that February is too short. But that would only work if the book would have come out on February 30th or 31st.

Rather than bore you with the backstory or deliver any details, I’ll just quote old Robbie Burns.

The best laid schemes
Of mice and men
Often go awry

That’s the only line that is usually remembered from his 1785 poem ‘To a Mouse, On turning her up in her nest with a plough.’

Or, as Burns originally wrote it,

The best laid schemes o’ Mice and Men
Gang aft agley

That’s my excuse. The publishing temporarily gang aft agley.

But then, the entire book project has been like that. When I started writing, I dithered for weeks about how much was fit to tell. Or the best way to tell it.

There is plenty of attention to be had in the popular press by Naming Names and Calling Out. The more salacious the better, it seems (see: Augusten Burroughs).

These books are good reads, but nah, not my style.

So I knew I wasn’t going there, but I had to go somewhere. I just wasn’t sure of the direction.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. So, it took me five months to get serious about writing the book I had hoped to finish in six. When I finally settled down to business, still with a six month deadline, I was handed a cancer diagnosis.

That also slowed things down considerably.

The manuscript was eventually finished. Unfortunately, I hadn’t really edited anything in some years, so I forgot how long it takes to turn 80,334 good words into 68,437 better ones (see: Farming Rule #1).

Seeing as how I had never published a book before, I underestimated how long that might take. Optimism does not always pay out in coin. It can feel good at the time, but…

Then, to top it all off, I also took a well-deserved holiday out of the country in a sunny place. Cancer treatment during a British winter creates that kind of craving.

All of which is to say that you, Dear Reader, get to remain in anticipation a little longer.

March, I think. Yeah. Sometime in March.

Meanwhile, here’s a little taste to take the edge off.

I sat down to begin this account for the umpteenth time. He sat across from me.

Surely you are going to tell them the whole story.’ he said.

That wasn’t actually a question. It was a command. I had been dithering for days, turning over in my mind just how much – or how little – of my story was fit for people to read.

I was planning, self-editing, trying to make a way in a wilderness of words….

You will know when you are done telling the story,’ Jesus said, ‘and then I will take you by the hand and together we will edit it into My story. That way, I become the Author and the Finisher. It is My story that changes the world, Beloved, not yours. Telling what I have done changes hearts and minds, and brings people to know and understand who I created them to be.’

He chuckled then. ‘God knows they all need it.’

Meanwhile, I’ll be back here next Thursday. See you then.

If you want weekly inspiration, and a reminder about fresh content, follow me on Facebook at PleasantLinesWriter.

Calendar Image from Wikimedia Commons, Theo van Hoytema / Public domain