Spark of Creation: Conch Shell

In November 2009, for the first time in my life, I was overtaken by the earthly need to garden. After five or six months of pulling ivy, digging roots, hacking stumps and pruning years of deadwood, I discovered a conch shell – big, pink and bright as you please – beneath a cedar in a final corner of the yard.

Conch ShellUnusual, I thought, for Carrboro, North Carolina – 200 miles inland, no home to mollusks. I talked to a friend about the conch shell, and we tossed around plausible explanations. She wondered if there’d been recent construction work in the neighborhood. I recalled burying a treasure beneath the porch of my childhood house so the next kid could find it. Then she asked me what I really thought. The answer … that it was a spirit or some type of fairy … a sign that I should keep going with the garden … that there were other discoveries to make and treasures to uncover.

From where I sit today, the conch shell was just such a thing. Without the gardening, In Mr. Handsome’s Garden would not have been written. Nor would there be a hedge of camellias on the side of the house or three Japanese maples in the yard or gardenias by the drive that should bloom in 2014, at the point when In Mr. Handsome’s Garden is in production.

What other conclusions can be drawn, I do not know. This one makes me the happiest.

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