“I’ve been thinking about beginnings,” I said. I had been clearing the garden and had paused to marvel at some radish sprouts that were making a straggly line across one of the beds. Coyote was filling the compost bucket.
“In what sense,” he asked. “Spring? New life? Great Blue Heron eggs?”
“Oh you were watching that, too,” I exclaimed. “So much excitement over an egg. Who says everyone’s gotten cynical?”
“Happens all the time,” he shrugged, “Egg-laying, I mean. Nice of you to notice, though.”
I eyed him warily. You’re always on borrowed time with Coyote.
“Well, I wasn’t talking about eggs,” I said, taking the bucket and spilling a dark path of compost down a new bed. “I was thinking about my story. I can’t seem to get much past the beginning because I am not sure where the beginning is.”
“Ah,” Coyote said, “like the radishes.”
“Yes,” I answered, glad to be on safe ground. We both admired them for a moment. They had little heart-shaped seed leaves that were so far defying the spring frosts. “Now there is a beginning. First there is nothing in that bed and then there are infant radishes. Spring! Gotta love it! Not like my writing. I’d like to get past spring and move on into summer but something keeps holding me back.”
“Maybe you just need to think about what got the radish here.” He pulled one from a congested part of the line.
“I planted seeds,” I said.
“And where did the seeds come from?” he asked. I knew he did not want me to say that they came from a packet I had bought at Agway.
“Last year?” I said, trying to see where he was going so I could stay ahead of him. Not that there was much chance of that.
“Look here,” he said, bringing the tiny sprout over to me. “Look at that.”
He pointed to the blush of red on the barely swelling root.
“How does the radish know to do that and not turn a little orange on the way to being a carrot? How does it know how to get peppery instead of sweet?”
I blinked at him.
“It’s because of genes and DNA and … stuff.”
“Good answer,” he mocked. “Same with your story, though. It’s got genes and DNA and … stuff. So get on with it.”
“But that’s the problem. How can anything really begin when it is all tangled up with things that haven’t ended?”
“Endings, beginnings, what’s the difference?” he asked popping the radish sprout into his mouth. “Cycle of life. Anyway, Kurt Vonnegut said you should begin as close to the end as possible.”
“You’re not helping.”
“Hand me the hoe.”
Image from the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s Great Blue Heron Nest Cam.