Wildflowers and Present Tenses is the first book in a series of three by Patricia Lucia. Lucia presents the stories in her memoir with a magical twist, creating a Crone narrator, her future self, who tells these stories by a fire to an audience of fairies who gulp up the libation the Crone has left out for them and throw the petals from her wildflowers into the fire - their homage to her. The Crone introduces each story with wisdom and fondness for her younger self. "A woman," she says, "who did not believe she was magical, but held out for magical possibilities."
The stories begin (Weighty Matters) with Lucia's chaotic and confusing entry into the world, leaving her wondering if her parents may want to kill her, and softens the trauma with sprinkles of humor. She reveals that she was a diet failure at six months old and her first complete sentence "Are you trying to kill me?" - blurted while pinned to a table in the doctor's office while the doctor sewed a gash over her eye - was not a rhetorical question. Lucia explores her "otherness" early on in Weighty Matters as she observes her own body, femininity and emotions. This 'otherness' echos throughout the stories of her adolescence and adulthood as she looks for belonging and purpose and finds solace, even escape in lover relationships.
The stories follow Lucia through her wanderings from New England to New York City and Florida, and are generous in their honesty, self reflection and sensuousness. Ultimately, her stories lead her and the reader down a path of healing. She is writing "a love letter to her future self" she says in the last story Cultivating Courage. Here we see the past, present and future tenses of Lucia's story come together. The Crone is called to bed by her Beloved, the fairies depart and a sprig of rosemary is picked for the bread she will bake in the morning, a beautiful return to the Crone's musings at the beginning of the evening.
"She had wandered from place to place, lover to lover, purpose to purpose, looking for home. A reluctant gypsy. She would rather have stayed put somewhere, found her true beloved and baked bread for the rest of their lives. But her wild and restless spirit tugged and pulled, reminding her she had stories to write. Stories she needed to live into and out of again before pen could meet paper."
"Wildflowers and Present Tenses" is about self discovery, authenticity and magic. Memoirs do not usually lend themselves to much imagination, but when imagination sits in the middle of the page like the quintessential cat, one finds a way. In the end, the reader will believe this wise, magical old woman sits by a fire and waits for them. Indeed, she does.
Patricia Lucia, a Massachusetts native, is an English teacher, writer and former business owner. She holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from City College of New York where she also earned a New York Times Fellowship for Creative Writing. After moving to Florida shortly after 9/11, she operated her own scratch kitchen cafe for ten years, and created dozens of signature dishes including a product line. "Wildflowers and Wooden Spoons", the second book in this series (2021), will feature recipes from her cafe and kitchen magic stories.