Need Food for Thought? Chew on this!

* "Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder" is a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!

*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!


Although time had only recently changed to greet the coming winter months, Jim Burpee found himself already weary of the chilly shortened days. Fewer sunlight hours meant less time to spend outside enjoying nature, his favorite place to be after a long day’s work. A landscaper at heart, Jim decided to call his green thumbs to action and plant a flower garden in order to lift his spirits.

Around and around his treasured yard he strolled to determine the precise location for his vision to take root. He thoughtfully pondered several factors in his mind as his search continued for the perfect spot. What location would provide maximum sun exposure to ensure beautiful coloring for the petals? Which areas would allow me to see the blooms as I come and go from home? Surely others would enjoy the beauty of the flowers, so where would be the optimal position to ensure they could be seen from the road?

After finally selecting an open area in the front side yard and surveying the sculpted shrubbery he’d planted over the years, he decided it would be great to have vibrant bursts of colors from February through November. A smile touched his lips when he realized next year this time he would only have a few months of “gray days” to endure. As he meticulously planned his garden, he consulted his calendar and sketched out a rough diagram. Daffodil and tulip bulbs for late winter and early spring, followed by pansies in mid spring, and finally marigolds and vinca for painting the landscape of late spring, summer, and fall.

Jim could hardly wait. He spent time each evening transforming the open space into a lovely bed waiting to be filled with an assortment of bulbs, seeds, and flowers. Surrounding the newly turned dirt with a beige stone border, Jim stood back and smiled. Soon, brilliantly colored petals would beam at him from their carefully planned abode.

The following Saturday morning, Jim whistled a tune as he made his way down the driveway and began a mile trek to his favorite store, Plant and See Nursery, to buy the bulbs needed to begin his project. Jim enjoyed the sights and sounds all along the way. Once he arrived at the plant nursery, he studied the fact sheets of both the daffodil and tulip bulbs, ultimately settling on a wide assortment of each that held the promise of sunny yellows, bright whites, and a variation of pastels mixed throughout.

During his walk home, Jim gently slung the bag of bulbs over his shoulder. As the bulbs settled, their weight pressed upon a slight tear in the bag, forming a hole large enough for some of the smaller bulbs to escape through. Bulbs dropped intermittently all along the way home; some rolled into dead underbrush, some plopped down in the ditch, some rested next to the trees and bushes along the side of the road, a few settled beside a sign post, and one even rolled up against a rusting fire hydrant.

Once he arrived home eager to begin, he dutifully marked the exact and measured placement of each bulb in the garden. Jim relished the feel of the cool dirt around his hands and fingers as he dug into the barren flowerbed to create a resting place for the first bulb. He retrieved a bulb from the bag and gently plopped it into the hole. Just as he covered the bulb with a blanket of dirt, his wife called from the garage. It was work. There was an emergency and they needed him immediately.

After placing the bag of bulbs on his gardening shelf in the garage, he called his children out to the side yard. He asked them to plant the bulbs while he was away at work and gave them specific instructions on where and how to plant each one. He soon left for the office and the children went back to their Saturday morning.

The bulbs were forgotten.

Later that afternoon, Jim called his oldest child, Jeremy, to ensure that the bulbs were planted. His son assured him that, yes, the bulbs were planted just as they were instructed. Jim thanked him and told his son he would be returning home within the next two to three hours. As Jeremy hung up the phone, he grabbed his brother and sister and they dashed outside to plant the bulbs.

They stared at the empty garden, struggling in vain to remember the very detailed and specific directions their father had left for them. Not wanting to disappoint him, the children quickly planted the bulbs somewhat haphazardly in the garden and immediately raked the topsoil over the bulbs to cover up their planting miscue. When Jim returned home, he smiled in satisfaction. In a few short months, he would be greeted each day by magnificent colors whose faces would brighten the area, smiling for everyone to see.

Jim waited patiently for the short days to lengthen and ultimately for the first glimpse of the flowers growing below the soil to break through the earth.

Soon the green stems began to rise above the soil. Jim observed the garden each day, watching in satisfaction and anticipation, and counted the number of stems, waiting for more and more to appear. He found himself confused over the randomness of the stems pushing through the ground and the miniscule amount that were popping up.

He finally asked his children if they planted all the bulbs where he originally marked them and if they planted all that were in the bag. His children hung their heads slightly and confessed they did not exactly follow Jim’s instructions, but that they did plant all of the bulbs. Alas, Jim was greatly disappointed that the number of stems did not come close to matching the number of flowers he was expecting, nor that they were growing in the locations he had so carefully planned.

The bulbs grew their stems larger and longer, soon formed buds, and finally bloomed. What a magnificent sight! The placement had not mattered. The bursts of yellows, whites, and pastels brightened Jim’s spirits daily; although there were not as many flowers as he originally planned and they were planted in a random assortment in the ground, their beauty brightened the world with their colorful smiles.

Meanwhile, motorists up and down the road between the Burpee house and Plant and See Nursery could be seen pointing and smiling at intermittent clumps of whites, yellows, and pastels waving along the side of the road, in the ditches, around bushes and trees, and even beside a sign and fire hydrant. Some even left their vehicles to take spontaneous spring photographs using the beauty of the flowers as the backdrop.

No matter the location, no matter the placement, the flowers Jim planted in his yard and that he “planted” from the roadside reached people from all walks of life with the message of Spring and new beginnings. Life may not always go according to the plan you mapped out for yourself, but it is important for you always to...

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Bloom wherever you are planted.

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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!

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