Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fears for Characters by Juliana Aragon Fatula


It’s the time in Spring when my peonies, iris, poppies, gladiolas bloom in time for Memorial Day and decorating the graves of my loved ones who have gone to the other side. It’s always been my habit to use fresh cut flowers from my garden instead of plastic or silk flowers; they don’t last as long, as fake flowers but they’re real and beautiful.

This Memorial Day I pay tribute to my Father, Julian Aragon, a WWII veteran; and my Mother, Louise Aragon, the strongest woman I’ve ever known. They taught me to garden houseplants and trees, vegetables, fruit, and herbs. I always took my skills for granted until I realized not everyone has a green thumb let alone two.

My son has taken an interest in gardening and so I pass on what my parents and their parents before taught them. My husband loves gardening and landscaping. My yard is an oasis I call my Chicana Garden. Sometimes I take for granted my beautiful yard. We have garden parties and BBQ and my guest remind me how blessed I am to live with my Garden of Eden. 
I take photos as the garden grows and blooms. In the winter time I study the photos to brainstorm what changes I could make. My garden has given me hours upon hours of enjoyment. The scent of fresh flowers, the hum of bees, the music of the birds singing sweet melodies and splashing in the bird bath. The chimes ring in the breeze and I’m transported to a peaceful place to write.

I grew up in the sixties and seventies. A flowerchild. I’ve always loved growing plants. My father raised chickens for the fertilizer for his garden. We always had fresh eggs. I remember one time I walked outside with my b rother to feed the chickens and we found a huge snake in the yard. I was a child, so it frightened me.

I’ve been afraid of snakes since that day. I screamed. My Father came running, told my brother to bring him the shovel. My brother and I stood and watched my Father slay the monster. He hacked it to pieces and threw it back in the river. Our house sat near the river and we saw snakes, but this snake was huge and brightly colored. We almost stepped on it thinking it was our garden hose until it slithered and hissed.

You want to know what I did with that fear of snakes? I put it into my character’s psyche. Made the shero into a coward with snakes. Gave her nightmares of snakes covering her and hissing with their forked tongues. I wrote about a fear I know and understand very well. 
I’m not sure why my fear of snakes is so intense, except I grew up listening to mi abuela, Phoebe, telling me Bible stories. The Garden of Eden and the serpent. I know some p people love snakes. I do not. I can’t look at them without having snake nightmares that evening. The snake, the serpent, temptation, sin, evil, devil. I’m a grown ass woman afraid of garden snakes. 
Lizards, geckos, iguanas don’t scare me, but snakes symbolize evil in my psyche. I know snakes are good for the garden and eat bugs. I’d rather have the bugs than the snake. Fear of snakes hasn’t handicapped me in anyway. Thanks Grandma for putting the fear of snakes into my head. I think nature and wildlife are beautiful but snakes, not in a million years would I find a snake charming.