In the neighborhood where I grew up, there were apple orchards all around me. A large one across the street served as a magical kingdom for my friend Kim and me. We would meet there every week, and under our watchful, imaginative eyes, the orchard was transformed into a realm populated by unicorns, wizards, elves, and other fantastical races. Of course, there were also two very beautiful princesses, with dirt thrones carved into the side of a shallow pit– er, I mean, thrones of majestic marble. We spent hours playing there, and wept bitterly when our kingdom was overthrown by the cruel despots of Ivory Homes. I wonder if the people who live in those new homes have any idea the magic that exists in the soil beneath them.
There was another, smaller orchard a few blocks from my house. It had been a private one, and since the owners had demolished their house and moved on to greener orchards, it had grown wild. The trees were thick with untrimmed branches, the grasses grew tall and wispy, and in one empty corner, a front walk carved a short path to nowhere in the weeds. I never saw a more poetic, mystical place in my life. I purposely never took a picture of it, because I didn’t want it to be frozen. I wanted the image to remain only in my mind so it could be a true reflection of what it was to me, rather than hard proof of what it only looked like.
And it has remained in my mind for over a decade now. It has long-since been bought and plowed over to make room for a boring, methodical farm, but I still hold both these orchards dear. Both of them are places I know I will one day write about, where I can take words and mold them into something that recreates what these worlds were to me as a child. I have other places and moments and people in my life that I have stored carefully away, knowing they will be jewels I can write from. They were important to me, and I want to share them through my writing. There are so many influences around us that we can write from.
What are a few of yours?