Now that the thermometer has dropped almost to freezing at night, my tomato plant suddenly is blooming and bearing fruit. So on evenings when below 40 is predicted, I must cover my tomato plant with a light cloth so the cold won’t kill my late bloomer. Winter is approaching with each passing day, but that tomato plant operates on its own time line.
Like my tomato plant, some people flourish no matter what the season would seem to dictate. One of my friends turned 99 this autumn. Every morning she rises and dresses herself for an eight o’clock breakfast. She does her own shopping, goes to church every Sunday and attends weddings and parties whenever she is invited. She has adapted to her physical limitations by using a walker. Her mind is perfect. She quotes scripture by memory just as easily as she recalls the 1920s when her father drove a horse-drawn wagon to deliver ice.
At the Southern Women Writers Conference last year, I met a writer who published her first novel at the age of 71. Critically acclaimed, A.J. Mayhew’s novel “The Dry Grass of August” was inspired by memories of growing up in the segregated south of the U.S. It took her 18 years to write this novel but her hard work makes this book difficult to put down once you start reading. She is now working on her second book.
In my family, several of us have defied the expected course of our season. My mother received her B.A. at 53 at a time when most of her friends were grandmas. My uncle studied oil painting at 80 and had an exhibition of his work a few years later. In his 50s my brother took up a paddle, donned a helmet and life jacket and stepped into a raft, and a whitewater river guiding career. More than a decade later, he’s still guiding groups of rafters down class 3, 4 and 5 rapids six days to seven days a week. “I’m giving everyone a free trip when I turn 100,” he says.
As for my late blooming, I took up horseback riding again in my 50s (but not without some falls) and I published my first novel at a time when many of my friends were retiring. Book selling is not for sissies. As mentioned in my post last month, those boxes of books weigh a lot and it helps to have a strong back and biceps, not to mention a positive attitude.
The way I see it, we late bloomers are really just time rebels. We like to do things in our own good time, not according to the calendar.
Whatever age you are—young, old, or in-between—I say there is no wrong time to bloom. Just bloom. For as Shakespeare said, “Better once than never, for never too late.”