Story Seeds

This week during my fall break I took my mom to visit my aunt and cousins. We drove from Indianapolis east on I-74, around Cincinnatti on the I-275 by-pass, through Kentucky on the AA Highway, then crossing the Ohio River and ending up in Ironton, Ohio. Driving through craggy walls of rock, rolling hills and valleys, and richly colorful autumn foliage was inspiring. Conversation that flowed across topics and years provided even more inspiration. I found myself collecting seeds to tuck away for growing stories someday.

Can just the name of a place on a sign be the start of a story? I’ve driven this route several times now, and every time, there is a sign I look for- “Little Laughery Creek.” I love the way that sounds. One story seed…

At another place along the way, there is a stone stairway leading down a hillside… maybe I will let it lead to Little Laughery Creek. Another story seed…

There were hillside pastures with sleek black cows, brown cows, and white cows. My mom remembered this same trip from a long time ago (it was on old 52 then) when my brother was fascinated by the cows. He said in a slow, lazy voice, “I like cows.” She asked him why, and he replied, “They just lay there and look at you with those sad eyes.”

We drove past weathered barns,  homes- both grand and humble- nestled in the valleys and sitting atop the hills, little white churches with steeples stretching high, and sprawling horse farms with proud gates. We saw Happy Hollow, Beechy Creek, Dry Fork, and Eden Ridge. We drove through sunshine and shadows falling across the hills, the changing light transforming the colors of the fall trees.  More story seeds…

One of my cousins shared a childhood memory of wandering the hillside across from her home with her best friend and walking along a line of apple trees, and sharing her secret conviction that Johnny Appleseed must have gone through there. My mom remembered a time when we were visiting years ago and my sister was among the wanderers on the hill- she came back crying inconsolably, and my Uncle Cecil asked, “What’s wrong, Susie-Q?” and she replied, “Oh, Uncle Thee-thul, I ‘tepped in dat old cow mud!”  Another cousin remembered the time she was stuck in the treehouse on the hill for hours with her girlfriend after mischievous brothers knocked the ladder over and ran off laughing (she said it was only their bag of cheerios and mason jar of water that kept them from starving or dying of thirst before the bratty brothers finally came back). 

I remembered me and another cousin sitting along the bank of a little creek that ran by my grandad’s house- he was catching crawdads and I was collecting rocks, and our voices were shouting- “He’s my grandad!” “No, he’s not! He’s my grandad!”  Still more story seeds…

Seeds for stories… now sprinkled into my notebook, waiting to take root in the fertile ground of imagination and grow…

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12 Responses to Story Seeds

  1. Oh, I love the way you let us travel with you, hearing about all those ‘seeds’ being collected. It is a joy to remember, and place helps us doesn’t it? I enjoyed your story beginnings very much, like about the cow mud, and the treehouse ladder (bratty brothers). There is joy in your words! Thank you!

  2. It’s a glimpse into your writerly soul that you saw “seeds” during your trip rather than just memories and images of beauty. I suspect that is what we want our students to do in their own writerly lives: begin to see the magic and potential in what we do.

  3. elsie says:

    The memories are there but it takes a spark to bring them out of the dark recesses of our mind. You have some great seeds to plant. It sounds like it was an enjoyable trip.

  4. margaretsmn says:

    I enjoyed traveling with you. This is an unfamiliar territory for this southerner, but you made it come alive with all your story seeds.

  5. Lynn says:

    This was beautiful! I love your last line . . .Seeds for stories… now sprinkled into my notebook, waiting to take root in the fertile ground of imagination and grow…amazing!

  6. Terje says:

    You have such a variety of seeds to use. I hope that you will find the time to write the stories. I like the way you rolled out the trip, from what you saw and the memories others told to the promising note in the end.

  7. Ruth Ferris says:

    I loved the idea of story “seeds”. What a great concept. I will add this idea to my collection of storytelling ideas. Thank you for letting us travel with you as you re-visited sweet memories.

  8. I love this! Sometimes I forget to take a moment and document these little seeds that could germinate into something more. There’s a road near me called “Windtryst”… I always thought it would make a marvelous character name.

  9. I love love the linkages to writing ideas. You really are thinking like a writer. Did you stop and take notes? Your sensory words made me feel like I was in the car with you. xo

  10. Thank you for sharing your story. An interesting analogy. I look forward to reading the stories these seeds grow into.

  11. I am just starting to think of myself as a writer. I notice many things but often forget to document them. You have given me a gift by thinking of these ideas as seeds to be planted and grown. Lovely. I look forward to enjoying your wealth of stories as they spring to life!

  12. Pingback: My 100th Slice! SOLSC2013#18 | newtreemom

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