On Rabbitbrush, Ripples, Sheriffs and Such

Had a terrific weekend of writing.  I had an idea for a story in my head for several months but it never went anywhere, very unusual for me because I am a “pantser” in approach mostly, just sitting down and writing from start to finish from an initial story concept or character name, without a lot of forethought or planning.  I had the initial story idea, which is usually enough, but it never developed.  After sitting down the other day with the story idea once again, the light suddenly went on and it entered that magical land where the story writes itself.  Very happy with it, delighted actually, and wish I could share the story now with you.  But it is to be included in the upcoming “Adventures of Little Red Bear” collection so we will all have to wait just a little longer.

Work then started on another new story late last night.  So today I am working on what quite possibly could be the final story in the collection, and writing about Rabbitbrush, a featured element in the story.  Love the stuff.  To me, it is beautiful.   It is a plant native to arid regions in the North American West and Southwest, and thrives in coarse, alkaline soil common to desert environments.

Detail of Rabbitbrush Flower Head (Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Detail of Rabbitbrush Flower Head
(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Rabbitbrush is an important food source for wildlife, especially during winter months.  The Zuni people of the Southwest used the plant’s blossoms to make a yellow dye, and stems for baskets.  Rabbitbrush is gaining popularity now as an ornamental plant in areas where water conservation is a growing concern.  In the wild, it is often found in unmanaged range lands, along roadways and in abandoned fields.

Also known as Rubber Rabbitbrush for its uses as a source of rubber dating back to 1904, it is a shrubby perennial growing in sizes ranging from 12 to 90 inches tall.  It’s flower heads are comprised of five small, yellow tubular flowers appearing in clusters.  The flexible stems are rubbery (hence the name) and its leaves a greenish-grey in color with a felt-like covering.

Rabbitbrush- Chrysothamnus nauseosus (Photo credit- Wikipedia)

Rabbitbrush- Chrysothamnus nauseosus
(Photo credit- Wikipedia)

Having seen Rabbitbrush before in travels to the Southwest but not knowing what it was, I learned more about it from beautiful photos shared over a year ago by a great friend, the award-winning author Kathleen Creighton in California. That is how I met her, actually.  She shared the photos online, I commented, she replied, and without hesitation granted me permission to use her photos.  Kathleen then contacted and put me in touch with others to provide me with more information on the plant.  A conversation struck up and we have been talking and great friends ever since.  And now I am including it in a Little Red Bear story.  It’s wonderful how it all works when one is open and receptive to meeting new people.  More of that Sending Out Ripples notion.

But, it has taken me a year to get the Rabbitbrush into a story, and I have stacked up a pile somewhere north of 1,000 story ideas and features since then.  I will have to live to the age of Moses and Methuselah to get them all into stories.  Since that is probably unlikely, I better pick up the pace it seems.

And in case you are wondering– “How does an arid desert plant find its way into a story about Little Red Bear and friends based in the Ozarks Mountains in the Southern Midwest?”  Well, guess you will have to wait for the upcoming collection of stories to find that one out.  But here’s a hint– There’s a new sheriff in town!

Wishing everyone a great day and positive start to the New Year!  Break time is over and Little Red Bear is calling me back to writing so I need to go.  Thanks for visiting! — Jim (and Red!)

Rabbitbrush, California Farm- October, 2013. (Photo by Kathleen Creighton Fuchs)

Rabbitbrush, California Farm- October, 2013.
(Photo by Kathleen Creighton Fuchs)

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