Stories that Matter

Hope And Hydrangeas


Hydrangeas. They’re one of my favorite flowers. They don’t smell, sadly, but they’re beautiful. They come in many different varieties and colors of pink and blue and white. I’ve longed to grow them for years, but in Bermuda it’s difficult, if not impossible. When we bought our place on the lake in Northern Ontario, I couldn’t wait to get started in the garden. At the beginning of every holiday, we’d trundle off to the nursery and fill the van with horticultural delights that one of us seemed far more excited by. Of course a stop at Tim Horton’s on the way home is always a great mood shifter.

I’d get stuck in that day or the next, digging fingers deep into damp, dark soil rich with possibility. I’d plant and think and ponder things, maybe hum a little. Gardening is not work when you’re doing it because it’s different. I don’t get to plant like that here at home. So I enjoy that time each year, when I sink into the ground, back aching, but oh so happy because I have accomplished what I set out to.

And then the deer come.

The first year this happened I was so angry I just wanted to cry. My garden, decimated. There went all my hours of hard work. We wouldn’t be around long enough to start over and wait for progress. So I fought back. I discovered deer repellent. A nasty bloody (literally) concoction that smell like S*&# (I was told to edit this but…it does). Worse actually. But it works. My flowers were saved and every year now, thanks to a few days of pungent odor that everyone puts up with because its better than me pitching a fit, I get to see them bloom. (I enjoy my cottage time so much I’m actually going to sulk now because this year we’re hardly going to be at the cottage at all. And I don’t want to think about what might be happening to my plants).

The point is, for a few years there…none of my hard work paid off. I battled deer and who knows what else, and my hydrangeas would either die or just sit there rather pathetically, waiting for a gold embossed invitation to bloom. Then, about two years ago, they got the hint. And they bloomed. Certainly I wouldn’t rank them up there with anything worthy of a Botanical Garden display, but for this island girl, used to sand and sea and salt, the sight of those flowers does something special to my soul.

I didn’t quit.

I wanted to. And it would have been easy. But I knew if I did, I’d never get the end result I wanted. I’d never get to revel in the beauty and satisfaction of the payoff.

Hard work’s like that, huh? You have to slog through to get the end result. Whether it’s gardening, painting, running or writing, whatever your goal is, you don’t get to the end and quit. You keep going. Pass that first goal and make another.

A friend asked me, some time ago now, why I wanted to be published. I had to think about the answer for a while. Truth be told, I’m still thinking about it. Because quitting, on any given day, still lurks in my mind. Quitting would be easy. Giving up on this dream…letting it go and getting on with something that makes more sense…sometimes seems tempting.

But I won’t. I can’t. Because I can see the end. It’s like this every time. When I reach the last half of a book, I stall out. Wonder why I ever started in the first place. Doubts come at night and try to steal the things I’ve worked so hard for. Like those deer at the cottage. I need some good repellent to chase them away.

Being published means putting my words out there. Words I’ve worked hard over. Toiled long hours, tested and tried and torn my hair out over at times, but in the end I know they have to count for something. Even if it’s only knowing that I finished. Knowing I reached the end and finished strong. Even if it’s only for me.

I hope it’s not. I long to share stories with readers who will resonate with what I have to say. Because that is my dream. To sit together on a starry night, watch the flickering flames, sip sweet wine and share stories. And know that the One who gives them to us is well pleased.

Dreams don’t die. If you put them up on a shelf, they don’t go anywhere. They merely sit and wait for the time you’re ready to pick them up again. And then, one day, maybe when you least expect it, they will bloom.



  1. Jennifer Zarifeh Major on July 2, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    “Dreams don’t die. If you put them up on a shelf, they don’t go anywhere. They merely sit and wait for the time you’re ready to pick them up again. And then, one day, maybe when you least expect it, they will bloom.”

    Whoa, Cathy! This is SO TRUE!!!!

    Thank you for this.

    • Cathy West on July 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it as always. 🙂

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