He turned and hobbled back to his hut.
The writer climbed to her feet and followed, careful to bring her bag of seeds.
The hut surprised her. Instead of a filthy hovel, the inside was bright and airy, full of sunshine and very tidy, with a whole wall full of windows and a table that held delicate sproutlings.
Drawn to the tiny plants, she examined them, noting how each plant was in a different stage, but each had its own schedule and system written down and laid on the table. "Why do you do this?" she asked, turning to the hermit. "I thought all that was needed was to toss them on the ground in my garden."
The writer was dumbfounded. "You mean the fox lied to us? It's not enough to cast it in the fertile soil of my imagination garden?"
The hermit smiled. "That is the fox's role, you see. Not everyone has the dedication needed to grow these seed to ultimate fruition. His part is to confuse and distract those that will be easily swayed by the perceived easiness of the way. Only those who are truly dedicated to the craft will become a hermit, someone willing to succor and shelter these seeds to their ultimate destiny.
"I learned this from the hermit before me," he said, touching one plant with a soft finger. "Each idea seed is a good one, as they fall. But, and here is the secret, each seed needs nurturing, a steady eye and a plan. Without those things, the seed might catch root, and grow a little, but it will not become a Pillar of the Forest."
The writer watched the hermit for the rest of the afternoon as he showed her the steps. Sometimes he grafted two or three seedlings together, creating a new and stronger sapling. Other times he clipped off branches that threatened to topple over a tender young tree. Always he stopped to explain what he was doing to the young writer, making sure she understood all the ways in which to nurture the seeds.
By the end of the day, the writer's mind was full of the hermit's wisdom, her heart anxious to return home to begin her own process.
"Thank you, Learned One, for all your help today. I hope I can fulfill the destiny of the seeds as well as you have."
The hermit patted her hand. "It will come, if you have the determination to see this through. Do not fear the changes that will come to you. And you will see," he said as shooed her out the gate, "Someday you will be the one sharing the magic with the writers that will come behind you."