Surviving Despite the Odds


Surprised April air shivered in Wednesday’s snowfall. There was only a skiff, but it ghosted the greening lawn and emerging plants. By mid-morning Thursday the sun reclaimed the sky and its warmth overpowered the snow.

I ventured out with camera in hand and found magenta and mauve-veined blossoms of Lenten Rose Helleborus weighted into submission but still gamely nodding. They’re usually hardy in zone six, but here they don’t perish despite Mother Nature’s zone four and five chilly whim. I’m not sure why.

Only in mild winters are their glossy green leaves meant to be evergreen, and yet our plants have remained evergreen every year whether the temperature dips to minus 20 degrees C. or remains above freezing. They prefer “an open or partially shaded locale”; here they are in deep shade against the house’s northeast foundation. Care instructions say they require “a nutritious soil that has decent drainage but is not overly dry”; here their roots reside in dry clay.

Still, they endure… much like the aspiring novelist who doesn’t follow all the rules or meet all the requirements, who gets battered by winds of change, and succeeds despite the odds.

Sometimes there is no explanation for success except that we have persisted. A small magnet on my refrigerator says, “Bloom where you are planted.” We bloom, and hope that someone cares enough to see and appreciate.

Do you sometimes feel you’re barely surviving in your writing efforts? What does it take to keep you rooted and blooming?


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

[Ecclesiastes 3:1 – KJV]


* * Don’t forget to read and comment on yesterday’s post to be eligible for Sunday’s book draw. * *

Humming along…

Beautiful flashes of brilliance catch my attention as two hummingbirds hover close to the window, scanning the blossoms in our hanging baskets. They are Rufous Hummingbirds, the male suitably attired in rusty feathers with an iridescent red throat and his female companion wearing green with dainty iridescent orange at her throat.

At barely three inches long and weighing three-to-four grams, they are the tiniest birds in existence but their apparent fragility is misleading. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology calls them the feistiest species in North America, “relentless attackers at flowers and feeders.” On our deck they aggressively dart at others in defense of their right to an exclusive buffet meal.

I’m amazed at the energy these tiny airborne jewels expend, whipping their little wings at sixty-or-so beats per second. They eat their body weight in food each day and become torpid at night to conserve energy. If adequate food and shelter are available they can tolerate temperatures down to -20°C. but usually make an annual migration run that takes them almost 8,000 miles clockwise around western North America. Some live over a decade and use their remarkable memories to return every year to the same location and feeder.

They are fascinating, belligerent wee beings and I love watching them flit back and forth from the trees, hovering in place or even flying backwards as they jockey for position at the feeder.

Part of my fascination is in realizing how persistent and enduring Hummingbirds are despite their diminutive size.  They don’t let their limitations become an excuse, but persevere against the odds, sometimes travelling incredible distances to reach their goals.

Let’s see now, do you suppose there’s a lesson to be learned from them?


Photos courtesy of Ryan Bushby and Sberardi


Keep Doin’ It

There’s nothing complicated about finding one’s way onto the road to success. At least, not for NY Times best-selling author Diana Gabaldon. In her interview with Dee-Ann Leblanc on the “Freelance Survivor” website she was asked for her most important piece of advice:


          “Keep doin’ it.  Not only do you get better at something, the more you do it—persistence is the single most important aspect of success.”


It’s not complicated, but it’s profound in its simplicity and truth. Just “keep doin’ it.”


I am, Diana. I am.