Fleur 2020-04 - Apple Tree

And the Winners are ....

Judge’s Comments

What great stories this month! Perhaps not surprising given our present circumstances, the apple tree and its blossoms inspired tales of separation and trial, but also of renewal. The stories from our writers this month reflected both concern and hope for the future. Those fragile, beautiful blossoms served as messages of love, faithfulness, and the cycle of life.

Thanks to all our writers! As always, it was difficult to choose among all the very fine stories. Please keep sending us your best!
Regina Higgins

The Empty Piazza – by Juma – WINNER

The writer evokes for us a deserted city, emptied by the pandemic. It’s a powerful image, deftly drawn. Alone, the main character longs for a loved one, who responds with a poem celebrating the apple blossoms in their country home. The imagined scattering of the blossoms in the piazza below as letters and blessings creates hope for a new beginning, a transformed city. A complex theme given the word limit, and the writer meets the challenge brilliantly. Best use of the flower prompt!

Apple Snow – by Mary Wallace – Finalist Honors
A well-wrought generational story, with apple blossoms as the continuing thread of love. A beautiful and uplifting ending.

My Neighbour Charlie – by Alanna Donaldson – Finalist Honors
In this story, the writer deftly employs planting and growing as a metaphor for friendship. The phrase “apple blossom floats onto my lawn like a kindness” touched me. Skillful use of images here and masterful narration.

Pip – by Grace Ridley – Finalist Honors
Special congratulations to this high school writer for an excellent dramatization of natural tensions between older and younger sisters in their responses to the apple blossoms in their path. Their different lives and points of view are made memorably visible in the older sister’s leather jacket contrasted with the younger’s ladybug coat, the teen’s ringed and acrylic nail-adorned hands contrasted with the “still podgy” palms of the child. I hope the writer continues to explore the sisters’ relationship in other stories.

The Fourth Message – by Juma – Finalist Honors
Descriptive contrasts of city (the urban “wiid symphony” and “comforting chaos”) and country (“Morning didn”t so much break, as it tip-toed in”) make this story stand out. The conclusion—apple blossom as message—brings the tension to a memorable resolution.

There Will Be Apples – by Juma – Finalist Honors
This story within a story of pandemic and confinement gives the reader an historical view on present challenges. Apple blossoms have long been a symbol of hope for the future. The writer makes this old wisdom new and fresh again for us.

Tu Me Manques – by Mary Wallace – Finalist Honors
A story of penpals, featuring two blossoming apple trees and the relationship they help foster. The ending is a beautiful tribute to friendship and imagination.

Other Finalists
Blossoming Buds – by Sandra James
Growing – by Jane Rockwell
Old Friends – by Julie Meier
Thanks to Johnny – by Susan Dawson
To Rise, You Must Fall – by Tejal Doshi

Congratulations to all our Public Voting winners!  Two great high school writers and one talented adult won the top three places.  Kudos to Tejal Doshi, Grace Ridley and Troy Henderson!
Feel free to continue sharing this month’s stories with friends and family, colleagues and coworkers!  These stories are inspiring and lovely, and would enhance anyone’s day.

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Fleur 2020-04 Apple Tree

Dewdrop suspended
On azalea petal –
The wren sings softly.
NEXT CONTEST STARTING!
Our May contest features the beautiful azalea, rich in color and brilliance.  When the azaleas begin blooming, we folks in the northern hemisphere know that spring has truly arrived!  Our friends in the southern hemisphere also enjoy azaleas in the fall and into the winter, so this is truly a flower to inspire us all!
Click on the link below to learn more or to enter the new contest.

Fleur 2020-05 – Azalea

Our prompt creator this month is Zantal Siah, a writer and poet from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Zantal is one of our most prolific prompt writers, and has given us a wealth of inspiring haikus.  Thank you, Zantal!
We’re thrilled to welcome back David A. Ross as our judge this month.  Dr. Ross is an Oxford scholar, a professor of Comparative Literature, a collector of fine art and a writer par excellence.  He will select the Grand Prize Winner and the list of Finalists for this contest. There will also be a public voting segment.

Voting Countdown:

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Special thanks to everyone who entered a story this month, and congratulations to all those who made the short list.  Welcome to all our new subscribers!  We hope you enjoy your ZenGarden.club experience and continue to share your talent with all our club members.  Your stories can help make a difference.
We’re delighted to present the shortlisted stories from our “Apple Tree” contest.  We hope you’ll read each one and then tell your friends and family about ZenGarden.club.  We can help spread comfort and hope by sharing these lovely stories with family and friends.
Total entries:  42
Total shortlisted:  28
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