It’s almost springtime in the state that I call home, but I’m not overly anxious for it. My favorite room in our house was an add-on designed by my husband and is directly above our two-car garage. The four season sunroom faces south. Expansive six-foot windows open three sides to the outdoors where our home nestles in old maple and oak trees. Heated by sunshine and colored by the autumn leaves, the room feels like a big tree fort and it’s where we live. And trust me, this room is a character.
From this second-story room, we watch storms come and go. We nap and love to read on the swinging bed near the corner windows. I’ve lined south-facing windows with plants. Typical spider and aloe plants, varieties of succulents, African violets, and flowering orchids. During the cold months, the orchids bloom and remind us that it’s warmer someplace.
My husband says my house-plants feed us with much needed oxygen. But I care for them for other reasons, too. The African Violets came from my mother’s home and she inherited them from her grandmother. The blooming succulents with red flowers that last for months thrive in a sunny south-facing window, like the Aloe that spreads like a weed. They came from my grandmother’s home.
I tend to seven varieties of orchids like they’re my children. I carry them to the kitchen for water them and let the runoff go down the sink. I stake their blossoms and trim dead leaves. My reward is colorful blooms that last for months.
The monstrous Night Blooming Cereus resides in the center window and is decidedly the ugliest. Unless it blooms. In the early 1900’s Night Blooming Cereus plants were coveted as parlor plants belonging to socialites and sophisticates because when they flowered, it was a party-worthy event. Drinks served all around! On the very rare occasion that my plant hosts a flower—once a year at best—it offers up a large, divine ornament. That single blossom spreads the most compelling perfume filling the entire house. The enticing tendrils and sticky stamen are designed to draw varieties of large nocturnal moths. Yet all beauty must come at a price. The flower lasts only until dawn the following day.
As a resident of one of the northernmost states, I bask in warm summers that rarely get too hot for my comfort. I anticipate the Fall colors and rake the downfall of leaves when they bury my driveway. I bundle up in Winter and take walks in the new-fallen snow. The four-season room in my house brings me closer to nature. In real life and in fiction, I see setting as a character. I love to travel and experience unfamiliar places. When I’m not in Wisconsin, I’m walking along a beach or hiking a trail, gathering ideas for the setting of my next book.
How is setting a character in your books?