Burnt red tile rooftops in Florence, Italian voices wafting up from the overcrowded streets, and bathroom bidets remind me that I’m far from home.
No longer at the Tuscany Villa where we six women bonded — hailing from Washington State, Hawaii, Arizona, New York, New Mexico, LA, and New Orleans — we’re now in bustling Florence. A flurry of roses, poppies, olive or cherry trees aren’t visible from my hotel window, I can tell you that.
But each of you is a distinctive blossom (I’m too tired to cleverly figure out which).
How can I adequately thank Sheila Bender for helping me to see the forest through the trees, and for her generous spirit? Probably by continuing to write my life. I have such admiration for her skillful gardening.
Lee — a daughter of Sicily — deems me an iris. With her quips, one-liners, and hearty laugh she would be a great stand-up comic. Whether or not she creates pandemonium with children’s stories, she’s committed to the best words.
Nancy — previously devoted to writing children’s nonfiction, she’s been brave to switch to poetry in the past five years, and to plant herself in our villa garden — despite her helicopter children’s protests.
Julie — a rose is a rose is a rose. Exuding calm and positivity, a master of onomatopoeia (or maybe synonyms?), she will finish her “Spacious Unknown” on the Italian coast. She inspires me with her adventurous and intuitive nature.
Lucille — precise, caring, and a talented professional, she’s solid and straightforward. I hope she finds the exact rose she’s looking for. She may be a New Yorker but she’s clearly not provincial.
Rhonda — no bullshit for her, strong and sturdy. She’s gone through a lot and will help others grow by telling her story, of which I have no doubt. Her sharp images have stayed with me.
May your writing flourish, wherever it takes root.