Where flowers grow

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.]

5 Replies to “Where flowers grow”

  1. I really loved this. I never felt like Cle Elum was the place I bloomed. I don’t know that I felt like a thistle, but I certainly bloomed somewhere else. And I wasn’t a rose, or other graceful flower, I was a wild flower for sure.
    But your essay brought back images of men in flannel shirts, with suspenders and knit caps and good solid work boots. And how I saw so many of them heading into one of those many (I think I counted seven on mainstreet at one point) taverns.
    It also made me think of beef jerky from Glondo’s and those fruit bar cookies from the Cle Elum Bakery. It think I’m hungry, but there is still something so good about that bakery.
    And now, I really appreciate my upbringing in Cle Elum, even with all it’s small town flaws. Simply because I have experienced a way of life that many never will, and it makes me feel special now instead of awkward like it use to.
    Have a great weekend dear!

    1. Growing up I was called Blossom by one of my mom’s old schoolmates, who has since become a good friend of mine. He always told me that my sisters were turning into beautiful flowers and that–one day–I would, too.
      After I returned from Scotland he told me I’d finally blossomed and was finally a ‘whole person’. He also was really sad because he realised that I found the place I belonged and knew that I wouldn’t be around to meet for coffee every morning.
      I’ve been torn for so long because I love Cle Elum. I love the bakery, Glondo’s, Owen’s, and the Pioneer (formerly Fairway). I so wanted to fit in and just be a local. But no matter how much I tried, I was always out of place. So now I know it’s just a place for me to visit. And I am so proud to say that I’m from Cle Elum. I love where I’m from, I really, really do!!
      Oh, and the thistle description is partly because I felt like a weed growing up but partly because the thistle is the national flower of Scotland.

    1. You can be whatever kind of flower you want to be!! (Though I’ve always been partial to the ones that most people think are weeds ’cause weeds are strong and they’re survivors!!)

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