Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Beginnings

--So much is going through my mind this first morning of the SOLS Challenge. I thought I was ready for it, but I feel like the person in front of the old fashioned typewriter, ripping out poor attempts at creating a worthwhile piece of writing.
--What's going on?
--I have mentally prepared for these 31 days, and now I find myself overwhelmed as usual. I've been thinking too much. And once again, I'm requiring myself to create the best story I've ever written!!
--"Stop right now! Just write what is on your mind!!!" I say to myself.
--I've been reading a wonderful historical fiction book, The Silence of Trees, by Valya Dudycz Lupescu, and enjoyed a day of sun and warmth yesterday, noticing some bushes and plants that have started to come out of their sleep. Now I must put into words what has become a slice of my life through these two occurrences.
--Briefly, the book tells the story of the character Nadya who is recounting the story of her "secret" life to herself and finally to her family. As a youth, her family was a victim of communism and the German occupation of WWII in her Ukrainian homeland. She recounts not only the persecution that took place during this time, but also the culture and traditions of the Ukrainian people which is so closely related to the Russian culture. My maternal grandparents were from Russia, and as I get older, I find myself wanting to know more about my family's background. Sorry to say, I never asked enough questions.
--What really grabbed my attention was one story (and there are many fascinating ones in this book) told by Nadya to her grandchildren about the pussy willow tree. I have a tree in my front yard, and it is beginning to bloom. It's one of the first signs of new life in early spring. I've always been fascinated by it's fuzzy white buds. I might add, The Russian Orthodox Church my own mother and my grandmother Baba attended, passes out pussy willow branches instead of palms on Palm Sunday. The branches hung on the wall above a picture of The First Supper all year long.
--In the book, Nadya's family would take a pussy willow branch and lightly tap a part of the body of a visiting relative as a welcome on Palm Sunday and say, "It's not I, but the willow that taps you on this week of Easter." She then tells her grandchildren the myth behind that tree. I never heard it before, and I'd like to briefly write about it. As with many Russian stories, it has reason as well as darkness.
--An old farmer owned a small brown cat named Kasha who bore nine baby kittens. Since the farmer was not a good person, he put the kittens in a big brown sack and threw them into the river to drown. Kasha meowed and cried for her little kittens. A willow tree, who we know is kind and helpful, grew nearby and overheard Kasha's cries. The tree extended its branches into the water and pulled out the sack of kittens. Only one kitten survived. "Ever since, willows everywhere bloom with kitten-like buds in memory of the drowned kittens and the sad mother." (Chapter 5, The Silence of Trees)
--"Kitten-like buds." I like that.


  1. I have heard of this book & now you've made me want to read it more than ever. Your slice today is wonderful, Tam & I love the way you rather wandered into it, and told such a warm story. I love 'catkins' & buy them each spring for my home, so now I wonder why. I do not have a Russian or eastern European heritage & yet my mother did also buy them to display in the spring. You've made me want to research more ideas like this to see the origin! See what meandering thoughts can bring! Thank you very much!

  2. I haven't searched out a copy of the book yet. You've encouraged me to get that done.
    I'm surprised, writer, that you had a small moment of writing struggle. Love your description of the feeling: "I feel like the person in front of the old fashion typewriter, ..."

  3. Lovely, my friend.

    Yes...sometimes we have to be stern with ourselves and JUST WRITE.

    I'm happy you are a slicer.

    Hugs, Ruth

  4. Writing what's on your mind is the best way to do it, in my opinion. Good point.

    Also, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving such a lovely comment on my slice.

  5. Hi Tam! Here we go....1 down, 30 to go. We can do it, we can do it, we can do it...

  6. Yep--just write. It's too easy to over think this thing! And you gave me another book for my TBR pile! Love that

  7. I have always been fascinated boy pussy willows. I'm not so sure I like the story behind it, it's too sad.
    Look at all the thinking and writing when you just do it! Glad you plan to be here all month.

  8. Love your first "slice"! I've always liked pussy willows too - now even more when I think of their kitten-like buds remembering the drowned kittens. I'll never forget that. Guess I'll have to put this book on my Kindle to read. Keep writing, friend.