My Fearless Writing: A Virtual Adventure with Crescent Dragonwagon


photo by Daniel Holtz

You are walking through an avocado grove and you notice this tree stump.  AND the snake.  Do you (a) run?  (b) try to touch it?   Or do you just stand there and observe?  This handsome little guy is a baby rattle snake…he was  born this summer and is just learning to get around on his own.  On this warm fall day he came out to take a nap in the sun.  Our son found him coiled on an avocado  tree stump,  but  knew to stay clear…because a baby rattle snake is more likely to deliver a full dose of venom when he bites…and baby rattle snakes don’t have a noisy rattle that warns of impending danger.


undeveloped rattle on the end of a baby rattle snake (photo by Daniel Holtz)

Such a tiny snake would be easy for a hawk to snatch and carry away, but the bite of a baby rattler can kill.   There is  no noisy rattle on his tail to warn away those who might do him harm, as his rattle has not yet matured.   During warm weather, we stay out of the dry leaves along the edges of the roads in the avocado groves.   Best to stay out in the open…and wear shoes!

Unless you live out in the wilderness, you probably  don’t expect to encounter  snakes or other wild animals.  Just seeing a picture of a snake is enough to startle some folks out of their comfort zone!  That  deer-in-the-headlights feeling of initial panic,  followed by ‘what do I do now?’ and finally the decision to run away or quietly observe, is similar to the process of writing for many of us.  How do we get  past a frightening obstacle  that stops us in our tracks?

During this past month,  I have been participating in the very first Virtual Fearless Writing Workshop,  presented by writer, teacher, and author  Crescent Dragonwagon.  The workshop is not just about writing.

“If you’ve ever found yourself stopped cold by unexpected change, doubt in your own abilities, uncertain outcome,  other peoples’ needs, or unfamiliar economic, technological, or social conditions, Fearless Writing offers a way to stop being stopped.”


I brought an avocado from our farm in California for Crescent Dragonwagon when we met at Aldrich Library in Barre, Vermont

You may remember the post I did about Crescent’s cookbook,  Bean By Bean a year ago.   Last summer  I was excited to meet Crescent Dragonwagon in person when she spoke  at Barre, Vermont’s local Aldrich Public Library “Meet the Author” series.   We had already become Facebook friends after we connected on social media, and I had been interested in attending one of  her annual Fearless Writing Vermont weekends.   Continue reading

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit! Discovering Bean By Bean, a cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon

I was looking for some inspiration for a new bean soup recipe.   A quick search of turned up the newest book about beans…so I ordered it.   The first thing I noticed was the name of the author.  Really?   How in the world does someone get a name like Crescent Dragonwagon?  Well, that’s her name, so  I guess it’s her business…that’s what I was thinking.  Later I found the story behind her name, which makes me love the author even more!

On to the book.  It’s almost impossible to put down!  If you have ever had the slightest interest in beans…eating them, identifying them, hearing stories about them,  growing them….and who hasn’t wondered why some beans cause more flatulence than others?  Honestly,  every question you might have about beans is answered in Bean by Bean.  This is a world tour of beans!

Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix

I’ll be thinking up something creative to do with these beans…including avocados!

The reason I wanted bean ideas is that I have been invited to be a guest blogger for Bob’s Red Mill later this year.   Just being asked to be a guest blogger is a huge thrill for me, as  my own site is still less than a year old.   The invitation stated that I could choose among the Bob’s Red Mill products,  so I picked the 13 Bean Soup Mix and also decided to try their Bean Soup Seasoning.    The invitation encourages creativity (yay!)…so I decided to get some inspiration by ordering  Bean by Bean.  Plus, I’m always looking for an excuse to order a new book.   Not only have I found creative ideas for cooking with beans,  but this entertaining guide to all-things-beans  has opened up a whole new path to fresh inspiration in other areas too!

First, I must tell you that The Farmer  was intrigued by the book.   His father and uncle farmed together for 40 years, and one of their main crops was lima beans, in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.   We still have a small  burlap bag of dried lima beans that were given out as a promotional item at the Lima Bean Association meetings in those days.   The Farmer mentioned that his Aunt Catherine is known far and wide for her barbecue lima bean recipe, which she served at big family parties for years.   So when he found the new book on the kitchen table,  he began to leaf through it.  Pretty soon he was reading sections to me, which rarely happens with any book, let alone a cookbook!   Such a fun thing…to connect over a cookbook about beans!

This is Crescent Dragonwagon!

I noticed on the back of the book that the author-with-the-curious-name-Crescent-Dragonwagon has a blog!   Off I went to explore Nothing Is Wasted on the Writer.…and guess what! She lives in Vermont!  Not only that, but she teaches writing workshops called “Fearless Writing“!  And guess who one her students has been.  Julia Child! After she was in her 80’s!

Now I’m all excited about taking her class, which is offered at her home near Putney, Vermont on Labor Day Weekend every year.   She even includes improvisation and movement in the class, which dovetails with my music education experiences in Orff- Schulwerk.   My summer trip to Vermont this year is already planned for July 19- August 1st,  but maybe I could go back for Labor Day?   Even if it doesn’t work out for this year (and the class may already be filled since she accepts only 15 students),  the information on her website is an inspiration all by itself.   I followed a link to Seattle Tall Poppy’s blog post about the class in 2009 (right here in San Diego!) and found a terrific reading list for more inspiration!

So there you have it.  An invitation leads to one new book,  which leads to a fun connection over Sunday breakfast,  which leads to a new blog,  a new list of books to read,  and a potential new adventure…


Beans really are a magical fruit!

beans and avocados

I still think Avocados are the most magical fruit!


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