Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Medusa Plant

Guest post by Dean K. Miller

I approached my adversary with trepidation. Neither fully dead nor alive, the wayward shrub stood before me. Its twisted limbs choked half its own life away, but the plant refused to die. Scattered green leaves flicked in the breeze taunting me. The barren limbs scraped the fence, a challenge to my reserves of stamina needed to complete the task.

With shovel in hand and an axe at my feet, I stood ready for battle. There was but one acceptable result. Fifteen minutes of chopping with pruning shears severed every twig and twisted limb that had spread like the snakes of Medusa hair. That trial complete, it was time to get to the heart of the matter: dig and chop the main root system and rid the yard of the damned beast.

I stabbed the leading edge of the shovel into the dirt. It sank into the soft soil, but then was deflected by a thick root. Exchanging weapons, I lifted the axe high overhead and descended a blow worthy of Paul Bunyan. The power of my strike cut through the dirt, bisecting the softened fiber. This wasn’t going to take long.

However, with each probe of the shovel I discovered more fingers of the plant’s root system. Most were small enough to cleave with the shovel. Others required additional influence from the axe. And what was this? A tributary root, as thick as my wrist was hiding deeper below and reaching under the fence. I whacked three successive blows of the axe and then flung it aside in resolute victory. Still the plant would not budge.

Soaked in sweat and panting, I found myself battling the Lernaean Hydra, as every root I dismembered seemed replaced by two more. Resolute as Heracles, I managed to slay the underground Hydra. Pulling the vanquished plant from the ground, I held it high in victorious solute and then cast the heart of the beast asunder. It caromed off the fence with a protracted thud. My trial complete, I sought shelter in the cool of my abode.

What does any of this have to do with writing? Quite simply, if the Greeks had not told and recorded their tales, I would’ve been left to my own vices to extricate the plant. Inevitably, this would have led to several profanities and most certainly the axe lacerating my shins. Instead I delved into the world of Greek Mythology, conquering my respective nemesis’ first as Perseus and then as Heracles.

As writers we must tell stories. Though we may never know who might read our words, some day a child, or even an adult will be transported through time and space to do battle and emerge victorious, without ever leaving their own back yard.

What conquests have you made
with your writing (or landscaping) lately?

Dean K Miller is a member of NCW. His blog, "And Then I Smiled" can be found at: He writes a monthly on-linefly fishing article for Elkhorn Fly Rod and an on-line serial titled "The River Zen" found at


Kay Theodoratus said...

*chuckle* Hope you didn't miss any roots. Perpetual plants can be sneaky.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Reminds me of the old rose bushes I tried to remove 7 years ago...the remaining deep ground roots are still sending up shoots. So aggravating.

As for conquests, none in landscaping. But in writing I finished an 8-page single-spaced chapter outline for my NaNoWriMo novel.

Jenny said...

I love the image of battling a backyard Medusa. Glad you weren't turned to stone! What kind of a shrub is it? (I don't want to ever plant one!)

AJ Barnett said...

I think you touch on an important issue here - as authors our words are potentially around for hundreds of years. We really should be aware of the legacy we leave.

It's sometimes too easy to write behind closed doors, and forget what impact we might be having.

Dean K Miller said...

Kay: we'll find out in spring. I'll be ready, axe in hand.

Pat: Day one of go girl.

Jenny: Wish I knew. Though it was a virtual jungle for our little dog, it needed to go.

AJ: Even if we aren't aware of our specific legacy, it's definitely good to be aware that we are leaving one. Thanks for walking in through the door openend here.

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