Places as Finalist in
2015 New Mexico – Arizona Book Awards
In the garden . . .
“Gnome, where are you!”
I hold several white papers close to my breast as I run, so the precious sheets don’t tear in my excitement. The awkward position puts my body off balance, causing me to wobble while racing to the garden . . . a little jump over the first dry creek bed, across the soft mulched orchard, and then another hop over the second bare sandy watercourse. I wonder, not for the first time, about why I put my planting bed in the back section of acreage.
Finally, my heart pounds in my ears as I fumble for the gate latch and enter the garden. The papers tremble in my hand as I hold one out for my small friend. I point to the emblem on the gold-lettered certificate and blurt out, “In the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards . . . Baskets for Butterflies . . . our book placed as a Finalist!”
“We won!” Gnome yells as he jumps up and down.
“No, No,” I say while catching my breath.”We didn’t win first prize. We placed as a Finalist.”
The little man stares at me with huge questioning eyes.
“It’s like getting ‘runner-up’ in a beauty pageant,” I explain.
His forehead wrinkles as he struggles to understand.
“It’s like . . . roses . . . garden gnomes know about roses . . . It’s sort of like getting ‘second place’ in a rose show.”
A lightbulb goes off in his brain. “The ‘almost win’ prize,” he affirms.
Then his forehead wrinkles again, “Why we ‘almost win’?”
“Gnome, the organization giving the award is New Mexico and Arizona’s largest non-profit cooperative organization with over 1,500 publishers and authors. This is my first book. To place as a Finalist is a tremendous honor, especially since I did so in three separate categories. My fingers separate the certificates, revealing each, one at a time. “See, here’s one for the category of ‘Biography-Arizona.’ Another for ‘Garden.’ The last one says, “Young Adult.'”
“Three times . . . get ‘almost win prize’ three times?” he asks.
“Yes.” Then I take a deep cleansing breath. “Gnome, it really doesn’t matter to me whether Baskets for Butterflies gets any prize at all. But I’m trying to educate people about how so many heirloom plants are becoming extinct. Placing as a Finalist can help build credibility and expand the message.”
He nods, biting his lip, deep in thought. “Can Gnome have one of those?” A short stubby finger points to the certificates.
“Yes, I made you a copy.”
He carefully tears around the round emblem that says, ‘2015 Finalist,’ freeing that piece from the sheet of paper. Gnome’s eyes squint while forming a small hole in the upper part of the medallion. Then he walks to a garden row and gently slides the opening over the soft green blade of a Tohono O’odham I’itoi multiplying onion. The paper award stops about half-way down the long slender stem, swaying back and forth in a gentle breeze like a dry leaf.
“Onion did good to win that prize,” he says. Then he squeezes my hand and adds, “Donna, too.”
“I just want to help,” I say as tears fill my eyes.
. . . . . .
To see full list of Finalists: