Fleur 2020-02 - Plum Blossom

And the Winners are ....

Judge’s Comments

What beautiful and powerful stories this month! The Plum Blossom certainly worked its magic on our writers. I loved reading the many different turns on the meaning of the flower and the ways its sight and scent gave meaning to a scene, a memory, or a hope for the future.

The winner this month, “Unexpected Memories,” employed the plum blossom in the crucial turning point for the main character, an orienting detail that enables her to recognize and embrace her younger self. It’s quite a complex story for the 350 word limit, and the writer makes every one of those words work towards a beautiful and surprising end. I was impressed by the writer’s inspired use of the plum blossom, a sign of life and hope in a barren time, to mark the character’s slowly awakening realization. A fascinating main character, and a remarkable journey.

“A Canvas of White Snow” treats us to the sensations of a lovely and invigorating winter morning. Here the plum blossom is in the orchard, one of the many natural and person-made things that seem not only living but conscious in this short tale. It’s a beautiful study of the small details that make up a picture, whether on canvas (as the title tells us) or on the page.

In engaging the sadness of loss, “A Walk with Mei” makes wonderful use of the visual. The evocative imagery of the footsteps in the snow—especially those so wished for, but absent—touches us, as does the memory stirred by the dark red flower against the white snow.

“Ikigai” uses the word for “purpose” to offer us a young character’s energized determination to embrace identity and reality. The image of the torn but living petals is the inspiration. If the plum blossom can survive, then so can she. The language here is very powerful. The flower itself is described as “five silky petals . . . in a motionless dance, the pollen like the pricks of a needle” and winter is “a dead time when the cold was a stalker.” Special kudos to this remarkable middle school student who is already a gifted writer.

“The Misty Breath of Cathay” takes us to an extraordinary setting—a medieval castle where a duke’s daughter, suffocated by the etiquette of the court, suddenly recalls a freer, more dangerous time in her life. The thrill of her past adventure and the present appearance of the nobleman asking for her hand in marriage combine in the remembered scent of plum blossoms. Again, a complex and compelling story deftly told in a few well-chosen words.

“Wang Li’s City” begins casually with the story of a relationship between Chinese and American pen pals who meet, as many do, and deepen their friendship in person. We are treated to accounts of the typical tourist sites—museums, temples, towers, markets—all at the time of the annual Plum Blossom Festival. All is well, we think, but then Wang Li’s more recent emails reveal a horrific change. Here, the annual return of the plum blossoms stands as hope for the future, the healing of a wounded city. Truly a story for today.

Once again, wonderful stories from our ZenGarden.Club writers! It was a delight to read them all. I look forward to reading many more of your stories in the months to come!

~ Dr. Regina Higgins, Judge

Congratulations to all our Public Voting winners!  We hope your friends and fans enjoyed your stories as much as we did.
Feel free to continue sharing your stories with friends and family, colleagues and coworkers!  Everyone deserves to start their day with a good story.

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Fleur 2020-02 Plum Blossom

Modest and sweet-
I look for you in quiet corners
Our next Fleur contest features a wonderful flower that has been celebrated for centuries as a much-beloved herald of spring – the violet.  Our prompt creator is Anusha Pillay.

Fleur 2020-03 – Violet

Our judge for this contest will be Sherry Torgent, writer, publishing manager and published author.  Sherry will select the Grand Prize Winner and the list of Finalists.  There will also be a public voting segment.  Click on the link above to learn more or to enter the contest.

Voting Countdown:

We’re delighted to present the shortlisted stories from our “Plum Blossom” contest.  Congratulations to everyone who entered – the stories seem to be getting better and better!   We hope you’ll read each one and then tell your friends and family about ZenGarden.club and all our talented writers! 
Total entries:  54
Total shortlisted:  27
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