Somewhere in the Central Cascades is a small, rural village nestled in the trees. Through the centre of the community is the main street, home to a grocery store, a handful of small shops, a couple of gas stations, and an unfeasibly large number of taverns and bars.
To the north of the main street are churches and single-family homes. The sounds of children laughing as they play in the middle of the seldom-travelled side streets echo through the otherwise quiet town.
Here, boys grow strong and take on the trades of their fathers. Girls grow beautiful and wise and take on the responsibilities of their world.
In this fertile land where crops are grown and trees are felled, the next generation flourishes and the nutrient-rich ground allows for children to grow as flowers do – with pride and honour.
Here, where the flowers grow, people are happy. Their lives are fulfilled by love and community. Their roots grow deep into the soil of their homeland.
And here, from time to time, a thistle sprouts among the flowers. But here, thistles are weeds no matter how beautiful they appear to some.
And sometimes the winds rise and the seeds of the thistle are blown to faraway lands where they find new soil—soil fit for the survival of a thistle.
And in that faraway land, the thistles grow strong. For there, thistles aren’t weeds but are flowers. Yes there, thistles are the flowers that cause a nation to sing.
[Note: This was a five-minute free-writing exercise. The prompt was to describe the town where I grew up but I had no desire to describe my homeland. I mean, I love it and all, but it’s where I’m from, not where I belong. So I decided to get a bit poetic. I did not alter this much from its draft form at all. You can view the original hand-written piece here if you’d like to see the rough draft.]