Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.
Today’s guest is Sigrid Fowler. Welcome, Sigrid!
One fall about ten years ago, I noticed seven young trees poking up in the space meant for flowers on the north side of my driveway. What kind of trees makes star-shaped leaves? Though red maples aren’t common in South Carolina, I knew of one such tree up the street. Maybe the seeds were washed by rain or carried into my yard by birds. It was possible. I decided not to pull up the seedlings.
The next January, a friend helped me dig them up, pace off seven holes for a new location, and make the switch. The ground was wet and the task easy. There they were—seven twigs in a perfect row along the grassy, south side of my driveway. I looked with satisfaction and called it a day. Then I waited.
A few months later as our typically early, South Carolina spring unfolded, I watched closely. Yes, the seven were living, budding out and apparently happy. The little leaves were star-shaped, the way I remembered. I hoped for the best as I watched the changes through several seasons. The seven saplings were young. Were the leaves truly representative of the species? I didn’t know.
Several springs, summers, and falls passed. I was still thinking of maples but increasingly doubtful. The star-shaped leaves were yellow in the fall. One day, I took several leaves to the Clemson agent in town and described the transplant. He looked at a leaf and said, “They’re sweet gums.”
Put all this on the back burner for a minute while I add something about trees and Edgefield County, SC. It seems that to folks around here sweet gums are “weed trees,” a term I learned from my father. His long career was with the U.S. Forest Service, and he’s been my authority on trees. I had to laugh when I heard “sweet gums.” I’d been tenderly caring for seven weed trees— transplanting them rather than pulling them up, watering them in our hot summers, trimming branches that could be broken by cars driving in and out. Sweet gums? Now what?
I didn’t ponder the question long. I liked these trees. They were growing well, and the avenue they created along my driveway was nice. If they had yellow leaves in the fall, so be it. I like yellow.
They’re now nearly the height of my roof, and I’m wasting no time longing for red. Weed trees or not, their autumn yellow suits me just fine. All this has reminded me of a saying from the 60s and 70s—“Bloom Where You Are Planted,” it goes. I’ve slightly revised it to, “Wherever You’re Transplanted, Color Your World.”
Psalm 1 says the person who avoids evil and delights in the Lord will be happy and will flourish like a tree planted by water—leaves that don’t wither in drought, fruit in its season. In our uprooted society, many are transplanted, many ignored and devalued, even scorned like my seven “weed trees.” I’m reminded that God wastes nothing and values each of us beyond our imagining. We’re precious in his sight. Paul writes, “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him” (Col 3:17). If this is you and me, we will flourish and color our world, making it more beautiful.
A recent fall I was surprised by brilliant red down by the creek, another young tree, perhaps a black gum—red autumn foliage after all, and seven tall trees with yellow leaves along the driveway. I had to say, Thank you, Lord!
Solomon declared, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecc 3:11).
About the Gardener/Writer
Sigrid Fowler lives in South Carolina. She is a retired teacher of college composition, a member of ACFW and the Christian PEN. She writes a column on biblical topics for the local newspaper and has contributed to professional and learned journals. Her novel, Book I of the Don’t Tell the Rabbi series, came out last November, published by True Potential. This is the story of three childhood friends now a rabbi, a Baptist minister, and an English professor. The rabbi’s nearest neighbor, an old lady he and his wife have long befriended, is a retired opera diva whose voice breaks glass. In this window on the small-town South, the characters work their way through many challenges. We get to know them through thoughts and conversations–face to face encounters, phone chats, letters, sermons, and everyday business matters. What is everyone keeping from the rabbi? The problems are laid out in Book I, Three Friends and an Old Lady, the questions answered in Book II, Balagan. The word means, “a mess, a chaotic situation,” and it as well as other Hebrew terms and expressions are explained in a glossary at the end of the novel. Another glossary of names helps readers keep everyone straight. Book I is available on Amazon.
connect with Sigrid at amazon.com/author/sigridfowler
by Sigrid Fowler
“SO, WHAT YOU’VE GOT IS ME, BABY. JUST ME TO TELL YOU what happened in Beulah, SC, the year the rabbi found out. But before I get into all that, I should tell you who you’re lookin’ at. I’m not very big for a pastor’s wife and I have red hair. The church won’t let me do anything—it’s Baptist—so I mainly get into trouble and try not to. When I say “red,” that’s a euphemism. My hair looks more like some random October maple—and I don’t allow ‘ginger’ …”
And so it begins. A wild and inspirational romp in the small town South. An inside look at the relationship (with commentary) between a rabbi, a minister, and an English professor … and what the rabbi discovers long after the whole town is buzzing.
If this was a stage play (and it should be) it would be a Tony Award contender!
Join the rabbi and friends on this hilarious, inspirational, revealing ride of spiritual enlightenment.