Time Heals – slowly

Two years ago I wrote a post in early May. It was just before Mother’s Day and I was struggling with the worries and fears for my daughter and her partner. We were excited and fearful all in one breath. Each breath needed to be pushed forward to keep us going – to keep us from going under.

Here is how that post started:

“There have been so many disappointments for this young family – no breastfeeding, no working (she is a power house teacher who is missing her classroom at the end of a school year), no gardening (no hands in the soil due to chemo and no resistance to germs and bacteria), no hair, loss of salary, loss of energy, no working with the natural birth folks (everything now has medical in front of it with a big C).  We have not even gone to the discussion of surgery and long term medication to be sure this does not return. The no’s and negatives could take over if you let them.”

That Mother’s Day we shared with “happy” voices and honoring the soon to be Mother. We pushed the worries and fears and anger and confusion out of you heads for a few hours. We did what families do we gathered, we ate and we looked forward.

Now two years later – this family has weathered cancer, chemo, a pandemic, the racial riots in our city last summer, as well as emotional concerns from heath issue of other family members. It has been a rocking and rolling two years. There have been a few scares along the way but each time they/we have surfaced to find we have weathered each one.

So on Sunday we gathered – five of us sitting at our dinning room table in the late afternoon sun. Two faces joining us from New York on FaceTime. We eat, laughed and followed the joyous movements and chatting of a 23 month old. Through all the trauma and worry both Mom and Baby have come out on top.

There is a young boy running around letting us know what he wants, what he likes and how much he loves everyone. There is nothing like a little one saying “love you Gramma Grampa”.

The human body and soul are resilient. It is not to say that we do not struggle or that all the trauma is gone. We all still jump when a phone call comes that is not expected. We all still worry deep inside wondering will that cancer return. (It will be years before we really know if she is cancer free – this is how cancer goes but for this moment in time she is.) There is counseling to help deal with the worst of things. There is the talking honestly about what has happened. There is the just being there when anyone needs something.

The “just being there” is what keeps us as humans sane both mentally and physically health. The pandemic has helped teach all of us that lesson over and over again. It is not the big things but the little day to day things. The extra bar of chocolate, knowing that orange flowers over pink will bring a smile, giving the right books or making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies or just making space for people to sit and talk about anything.

When people ask did you have a good Mother’s Day – the answer is an overwhelming YES. “Oh – what did you do?” “Nothing and everything”, I say. I putts in the garden, I read and napped and then share a Happy Hour/ easy dinner with my kids and their families. We were just together. No big meal, no big discussions or talks. We laughed, following Little Man around with the computer so the New York crew could see him. We had wine or beer, cheese, veggies and dip, chocolate and rhubarb pie with “ice ceam”, as Little Man says. We gave each other hugs. We were family! Just family together!

My kids (that includes their partners for I now consider them my kids) are my Heroes! I learn so much from them, I admire all they have done and have overcome. I love that they will just come and be with us.

I know there will be bumps in the road – we all know life gives us ups and downs but for now we are on a up and I will enjoy every last minute of it.

Here is to family – to gatherings, to just being there for each other!

Here is wishing you also had a good weekend sharing time with family or friends. Life is too too short to not have people to just be with.

Little Man (almost 2)
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It is the little things – look, listen and really see

Crab Apple Tree

I am finding that the big things in nature are great but if you are forced to slow down and look at the little things the world becomes amazing. We are all wandering around looking at the trees flowering – the whole big tree. We see the large tulip bed full of colorful flowers and are wowed but if you stop and look at just one tulip – look inside to see what is going on in that plant the world changes. If you move in close to the tree and check out just one flower on the branch it is a different story all together.

Crab Apple Blossom

This spring has been a cold one with lots of wind which has slowing the spring blooming season. The plants have been slowly opening and holding their color and blooms for a week or two.

The wind has added to my stopping to look and see. There is a quick whiff of a flower the wind sends my way and makes me turn and look. The colors pull me in and make me stop. Then there is Little Man. At 23 months he forces me to walk slowly and to explore every crack in the sidewalk, every flower, rock, stick and pinecone.

Little Man has gained a great deal of energy over the last few months and this Grandma is always looking for ways to use up some of that energy so I can keep up with him. Instead of the wagon rides we walk the block to explore. Spring is a perfect time to do this.

Found Stones

Energy he has but when walking outside he uses his to focus on what is in front of him and he slows down naturally to explore. Also, when you are only about hip high you see the world from a different view point. The sticks and rocks, the underside of bushes and the insides of flowers are at eye level. They become the focus of your world.

His wind chime made with found pine cones and sticks

We spend a great deal of time listening as well. He is fascinated with sound right now. I know it is part of this developmental stage. (He is heavy into language and new words – big words like Hibiscus). As we walk we listen for wind chimes (wind chimeees as he calls them). He stops when a bird calls or a plane flies over head. He listens for the wind in the trees or bushes. I often find him pointing to his ear and standing quietly. He is telling me to listen – Do you hear?

This spring is about the little things. The sights, sounds, colors and smells of the world around us. We spend most of our time just here in the neighborhood. I keep thinking we need to go to the woods, to a new park, some big and fancy place. Then we head out the door and he is completely engaged in the few houses and gardens up and down our block. The park at the end of our street with large “pineconie” trees (otherwise known as evergreen trees/ pine trees) is always a place to explore. Each day something new catches his eye. Today we explored Dandelions at the park, and Violets in the back gardens of our yard.

I am grateful for these days of looking and really seeing the world around me. It is a joy to hear, see and feel the world through the eyes of children. If you don’t have a little one near that you can borrow and take a walk with then try just sitting close to a flower bed or a blooming tree for a few minutes each day (rain or shine.)

It will change your world!

Little Man with another wind chime

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Garden Season ?????

We are a month into garden season here in Minnesota. Maybe?!! March is really to cold and often snowy so garden clean up and planting are a no go. There is the starting of some plants inside under grow lights or for some there is the art of winter sowing (using gallon plastic milk containers cut in half, planted, and nestled into the snow waiting for the warmth of late winter sun to create a mini greenhouse for them. Great fun, but I have never gotten it to work and we don’t drink milk at my house so I am always chasing after friends for containers.) But really it is best to find good gardening magazines or books to keep reading and planning. The garden season is not open yet.

April is when we think the garden season really opens! Yes, now we are ready. The trees are showing signs of waking up, the snow is gone and grass is finding ways to turn green. All well and good but …

That should be a BIG BUT because this year winter has choose to hang on. Oh, we have had days that we see the sun and the temperature has reached 70 but they have been few and far between. This has been a month of showers. I know April showers bring May flowers but these showers are mixed with snow. The days are cloudy, windy, damp and chilly.

The flowers we placed in pots by the front door for spring color are being dragged into the garage at night for fear of freezing – out again in the late morning and in again each night. The daffodils, bless their hearts, are blooming and hanging in there. They like the cool weather. The tulips are up with buds but are refusing to open up to full color due to the dark cold days. Trees are very slowly trying to leaf out as well as bushes. Some of the blooming trees are in mid bloom and just hanging in there.

As to clean up in the yard – about half of it is done. The larger beds in the back gardens are wet full of leaves and last years plants. Every day I think yes, now – then it rains or snows or my grandson is here ready to eat rocks and leaves or he is also great at pulling up anything green, which means the plants I am hoping will grow. I am working on teaching him to pull Cheeping Charlie but he has no interest in that plant. Geez, he is 1 and 1/2 can’t he follow a few simple directions – “pull that vining plant with the small purple flowers and be sure to pull the whole vine” I know he knows the color purple due to a black eye his mother had in March due to a fall on ice. Oh, well maybe next year at 2 and 1/2 he will be of more help with the Creeping Charlie.

Then there is the indoor seedlings that I start each year. The tomatoes, peppers, basil and a few herbs. I was excited that at least if I am not gardening outside in April I have my indoor plants to make me happy. Well, not! I planted African Flack Daisy’s early and Leeks. They are doing well – except I can’t image the tiny thin thin leeks will every be big enough to be called a leek and be cut up for soup. Currently after a month of growing they are thinner that beginning chives.

Then we have the tomatoes and pepper and basil. The main stay of my summer veggie garden. The tomatoes are growing oh so slowly – and a few varieties have chosen to not come up at all. I have replanted twice. The peppers – nope – I planted 18 small cells with multiple seeds in each cell I should have way over 36 pepper plants starting. I have two! TWO – just two! And then there is the basil, of which there are four different varieties. A few of each variety have chose to pop their heads up but I have five people thinking they are all getting some of the 36 or more of those plants as well. I have also re planted those.

Today I took stock of the situation. Here is what I am guessing is going on –

1. My grow lights decided to burn out mid way into the tomato planting so they were all functioning under poor light. (that has been taken care of)

2. Then I used a new seed starting mix this year. It looked great but now I am wondering if that is part of the issue. So – I changed out the soil mixture and re potted the pepper seeds again. I will check on tomatoes that have not sprouts tomorrow and may try repotting those with the new mix soil as well. I am not sure what to do about the basil so I will wait it out this week and hope more of those guys decide to sprout. The tomatoes even through small I moved them into new potting soil and into larger pots. I thought a bit of encouragement might help them think big or at least bigger.

3. Then there is the issue that it is just cold and damp – I have the new starts on heat mats to help them along but a basement is a basement and it is holding the chill of this extended winter/ early spring. Don’t know what to do about that! No, I am not running an extra heater in the basement but I did think about it.

Now we are at April 27th. I have not started anything in the outside beds – no spinach, lettuce, radishes, or peas. The inside seedling look like last years March plants. They are all at least 4 weeks behind where I wanted them to be. In a normal year I could be placing these little darling out in the garden by May 15th. It is clear that is just not going to happen. The soil is still cold – not icy but cold. The plants are too small to even think about going in the ground.

The name of the game this year is frustration and patience – the joy of the garden is being over ridden with struggles and bad weather. I need to hang in there!

Through it all I have still managed to drag dirt into the house on my work boots for my husband to clean up. I have managed to keep my fingernails full of dirt and the knees of my jeans dirty. I am not sure how since no gardening is really getting done but indeed it is the end of April and I know because I am always dirty. So it must be the garden season – snow and all!

Hellebore and a wild tulip that I don’t remember planting but I have learned it is The Red Crocus Tulip. Circa 1860, a purplish-rose heirloom (T humilis violacea) and a fence to keep the rabbits from eating everything.

Happy Garden Season or at least Happy Spring

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Trust and Time

This little word has been rolling in my head for about a week now. It has popped up due to my health, due to the health of our community and in simple things like the weather. I realized that life is based on trust. Our need to trust in others, ourselves and the world around us. When that trust falters everything becomes shaky and tense. We can find ourselves lost and unsure which way to turn.

Each day people experience events that shatter their sense of trust. As those people walk shaken and lost the rest of the world keeps spinning. The sun rises and falls. The birds sing and the traffic on the freeway keeps moving.

Life is full of these moments and all of us experience them – some of us more than others. Some of us hit these moments and they take our breath away leaving us lost for days, months and in the extreme it might be years. The loss of a friend, family member, a child we trusted to be there, the change in our body – heart attack, cancer – we find it hard to trust that our body is functioning well and keeping us healthy. There are simple things that throw us off as well – the car you trusted to get you to work suddenly stops working, the washing machine that overflows flooding your basement or maybe you just but your trust on a warm and sunny day to get work done outside that needed to be done and now you can not. It is raining turning to snow!

The big and little trusts of our life surround us daily. The thing about trust is that we depend on it. We take it for granted and suddenly an event happens and the trust is gone. It slipped away in an instant. We can gain that trust back but it takes time.

This past week brought many events into my life that once again made that sense of trust vanish leaving me nervous, upset and sleepless. We have all been there and the steps to building trust back up are slow and steep.

I had a health issue with veins in my left leg that literally popped up out of no where. A vein popped internally leaving a cherry tomato size lump full of blood on the side of my knee. Given heart issue and blood thinners I was taken aback. Trust in my body working safely was lost once again. The scurry to find help to understand whether this was dangerous or just a pain. I have learned for now not dangerous but still seeking help to resolve the issue. Step by step I will find an answer and will begin to again trust that I am healthy and well.

There is the the trial of Chauvin that we in Minneapolis, Mn. have sat listening and watching, with tension felt throughout the city. Then suddenly there is another death at the hands of the police. Another young man of color lost. The violence erupts, the anger sitting so close to the surface and the tiny amount of trust that was building since summer is gone in an instant just like the life of this young man.

We sit under curfew again remembering last summer, remember all the lives lost not only those at the hands of police but those who have access to guns. How many have we lost to guns in the hands of those who should not have them? How many have we lost to anger or fear which really all comes down to trust? Trust on both sides! The damage is so great the healing will take a lone time. In this case the hurt is deep from long ago – a distrust that began with slavery, with removal of Native Americans from their home land, with a government that was not holding its side of the trust agreement.

There are plenty more little events and we each have our own but with all this sense of distrust I still know that each day we need to reach out to find a way to rebuild the trust that was broken. The little things are easy – we find out why the washer flooded and we fix it or the car can be fixed. The relationships that are broken are harder, the health issue may or may not be fixed but we learn to slowly over time build trust with ourselves again.

The bigger society issues are huge and will take years to heal but I think (I hope) they can heal if each of us is open to listening, feeling and finding space to help each other. There are those who are going to need time and help to grieve and find ways to release years of anger built up due to unfair practices. The loss of family and friends takes a long time to settle. The police and gun violence, the loss of trust with the pandemic will take time and changes in how we handle each of these events.

I don’t have big answers. I only know from experience after a loss or fear that breaks the trust we were holding it takes time but healing can come. The steps are slow and hard but they do make a difference.

Today I am holding peace in my heart for the loss the Wright family has suffered here in Minneapolis. I also worry for the woman who it appears pulled the wrong trigger sending her, the Wright family and all of us into a tail spin once again.

Trust is such a thin thin line we walk daily! Hold on to it as much as you can. Find ways to take steps to building and rebuilding trust with yourself and others each day.

Here with a shaken sense of trust I send Peace and Love to all this April 13th!

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Empty pots and rich dark soil and an invasion!

It is now late in the afternoon and the clouds are drifting in. The warmth of the day is fading and the rain will be here later this evening. My hands and back ache as the weather shifts but more so they feel the effects of the days work. The morning opened with full sun and 50 degrees. This is early for April in Minnesota. It is a wonder. (we even slept with a window open just a little bit last night)

After my 2 mile walk with the sun and birds I returned home to a garden in need of a great deal of work. Last summer and fall the garden was left to tend to its self. Which it did nicely. There were leaves, wild grass, weeds and the dead remains of last years plants waiting for me. Some of this mess was left on purpose to allow the insects, bugs and critters a place to over winter. The weeds and grass were not. So I worked my way through – finding crocus sprouting, daffodils emerging and Chrysanthemums.

Lovely but the Chrysanthemums it appears are invasive. The word invasive meaning they tend to spread. Who knew!?

I use to get a nice pot of Mums each fall to sit on the front steps. Then just before things turn cold I would plant them in the garden. Clever me, I thought. Now I will have them next year without purchasing them. Great except they don’t stay in nice round mounds like you see in the store. They spread out – stretch their roots all along underground and pop up all over the garden. The first year they did this I thought great more yellow flowers for the fall. Last year when I was out of commission they took over. This spring they are popping up literally all over the garden. The Chrysanthemum roots have moved themselves in between the roots and bulbs of all the other plants.

Who is in charge of this garden anyway? It appears not I. At least until this morning. Several hours later one Chrysanthemum was completely dug out. Two more were trimmed back in to what I hope is a more controlled growth. The leaves and wild grass are gone and some Poppy seeds were planted. The crocus are happily growing if I can keep the squirrels from getting in there to play in the fresh loose soil.

The dry root Dahlias, Begonias and Elephant Ears have been planted in pots to begin an early growth. They will go into the ground in May when the soil and air temperatures are much warmer. A few African Daisy plants and leeks were repotted to give them room to spread their root systems also awaiting the warmth of May.

Then there is the tray that look a bit like a grave yard – tiny white markers popping up in the bare soil. This grave looking tray is really full of spring promise. It is the newly planted seeds for the tomato and pepper crop for about five families. These seeds will sprout in the next week. They will then grow their true leaves and I will transfer them to larger pots. In May they will be passed on to family members to grow in their own gardens.

But for now I sit tired, a bit ache and happy of heart to see the rich dark soil, spring bulbs in flower and dirty fingernails.

Another garden season has begun! Hello April!

The green you see within the Crocus are the Chrysanthemums that think it is there right to take over the garden. We will see who wins this summer!
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Day 31 – #SOL2021: Who has Seen the wind?

Who Has Seen the Wind?
by Christina Rossetti (late 1800’s)

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by

March in Minnesota can’t quite decide if it wants to go out like a lamb or a lion. The sun continues to shine but the wind with dropping temperatures has taken over these last few days. We are sturdy Minnesotans and so out we go each day. “Little Man” and I find our coats, mud boots, hats and mittens if needed and out we go.

On this windy day (Wind recording at 24 mph at times) we tromp north up the street to our neighbors with all the glass sculptures and the cement Scotty Dog at the door. Little Man is hanging on with his little hand for the wind has stopped him in his tracks at times. We enter their curvy brick sidewalk to find a wind sculpture at Little Mans eye level. There are two wheels spinning in different directions and his eyes are wide. The bushes in front of him prevent him from grabbing it so we stand and watch. The ever present teacher and scientist in me begins to talk about the wind. How we only see what it moves. Yeah, right this little guy tracking all this, but I am a good teacher and continue.

He stands and watches as he finds a wind chime high in the tree move. Each of the chimes is really a length of different shaped mirrors with small bells on the end. As the sun hits the mirrors and the wind blows we are surround in flashes of light with tiny bell sounds. He spins and laughs as he follows the light.

Then it happens! There is the high light sound of chimes that pulls him from this light display and he begins to search. The sound is coming from across the street on a small hill among the trees. He has found a wind chime! A Win Chimie as he calls it.

We stand on the sidewalk in the cold blowing wind and watch and listen as it sings to us. The trees over head are dancing and swaying with the sounds we hear. He is transfixed and will not leave. I decide to walk us up the wood chip path that leads to the wind chime pole and allows him to get a first hand look. As he sits in my arms he reaches and helps the wind to keep the sound moving he smiles and laughs with delight. The air is whirling around us in big gusts. My ears and fingers are cold and Little Man’s hands are bright red but he is not going to leave.

I finally distract him with the idea of pasta for lunch and we head back across the street in a whirlwind of leaves blowing in his face and pushing his hair in all directions. “WIN,” he says! He mumbles win chimie all through lunch and falls into a deep afternoon nap listening to rain and wind chimes on the TV.

Oh we are not done! This boy finds another set of chimes in the afternoon. They are hanging high in another neighbors tree and we are in their backyard before I know it. We are standing and staring into the tree. Then a trip to the garden center with his Mother has them surrounded by wind chimes and Little Man will not leave with out buying one for Gramma!

So today – day two of strong winds we walk the neighborhood to check out the sounds – the wind sounds. We watch the trees dance and we return home to listen to baby’s win chimies blow on the screen porch.

So who has seen the wind? WE have!

Listen for the chimies

Watch the trees dance

Hear the giggle of a Little man

Running up and down the street

and you to will see the wind

Happy March Wind!

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DAY 30 – #SOL2021: Help I am Becoming my Mother

It is late 1950’s or early 1960’s – I am an over active reader (just barely reading and always moving), an explorer and forever curious. I am entering the preteens – the time of changing bodies, the times of knowing but really knowing very little of the world or anything else for that matter.

My world was an average size city in mid America with weekend trips to the family farm. We were a family of three kids and one overworked Mother. If you looked at the statistics we were a household that sats well below the poverty line. You couldn’t see if from the outside. We lived in a small house with a nice yard of flowers. Our clothes were always clean and looking great (mostly homemade). We had plenty to eat although the dinner fair was not lavish. Our treats were few and always homemade – cookies, cakes, doughnuts, salt water taffy, peanut clusters. Soda Pop was bought and one bottle shared between three kids -measured very carefully to be sure we each had equal amounts and allowed on the weekends only – a huge treat if it was in the house. (my guess is there was some financial support from some unmarried Aunts but it is only a guess)

Inside this little world I was restless with a body that did not sit still. I was found more often climbing the swing set instead of swinging. This movement made it hard for me to focus on the detail of things like reading and writing. Those two items I craved and yet they gave me great frustration. I ran from them as much as possible. Read books – nope! Write that thank you letter – Nope! Write that paper for school – Nope! The struggle was real. The words were hard for me to grab hold of. The letters seems to always have different sounds to them or in different places. When words needed to be written I had the same problem – “where the H… do the letters go to spell that word correctly? Why a c and not an s for gods sake?”

In these times of high frustration I would disappear in one of two places. One was the apple orchard that belonged to the orphanage a few blocks away. Always up in tree as high as I could go.

The other was our basement where we collected years and years of National Geographic’s. These dated way back before I was born. The pile of bright yellow cover frames sitting on the unused old wooden bar. Here I would sit behind the bar unseen paging through magazine after magazine reading little but absorbing the views of a world so strange and different from my own through the thousands of images. There was joy in knowing there was a big world out there. A joy in just looking over and over again at the animals, the jungle, and mountains, nature in all its glory. All so amazing.

Time flew by and we grew up. The National Geographic’s remained in the basement getting moldy and always there to look through when I returned home to visit. At times I would wonder and get a bit mad at my mother for holding on to these old magazines. I said, “you need to let them go.” “Yes” she said but they were always there. The older I got I marveled at the fact that we had little money but she always bought this expensive magazine. This was something we could not afford to put money into but there they were. Our private collection to read, and research through for school reports or just get lost into when that private time was needed!

We, adult children, tried hard to get her to get rid of these but there were there until we needed to clean out her house. She was in her 90’s. In my own home I had already started to collect those magazines with the bright yellow cover frame.

I had already come to the place where they were sitting on the shelf with my books. They are really on two different books shelfs with the hopes that my husband is not totally aware of my growing collection.

After years of pushing my mother to get rid of those old magazines here I am holding on to them. Here I am just like I was as a kid – finding a place to go off to in the house to page through them looking at the images – reading small amounts at a time (reading which I now do well – thank you!). I tell myself I am saving them for a time when I have more time to sit and read.

I am now in my late 60’s – retired but still looking for time to really read those amazing magazines. When in reality I really am only becoming my mother!

“Saving those for who?” I ask myself!

  • “Little Man” – my grandson? He is more than welcome to page through them at 22 months of age
  • Save them because there are so many powerful words and images of our world?
  • Save them because I have not read them all cover to cover yet?

No (well maybe) but more it is – I am just like my mother – they are familiar, they make me happy and I know I will never travel to all those wonderful place but inside these yellow covered magazines I can dream safely about a world I love. (That said lately they have had articles that rock my core when the safety of our planet is at risk. But that writing is for another time. The Power of words! Oh and the one on women or the more current on on Mars! so much to think about)

I will say my collection is very small compared to hers. Her stash when back to the early 1950’s! But I have time – I am have a few years before I am 95 and my kids are cleaning out my house!

P.S. I also have a collection of Gardens Illustrated (all about English Garden’s – mainly). They are hidden behind the couch in my office. SHHHH – don’t tell my husband! or my kids!

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Day 29 – #SOL2021: Are these really our spring flowers?

Monday morning the sun is up and spring is in full swing. We are at 39 degrees this morning and warming to maybe 65 if the sun holds. But for now the crisp morning air, the bird songs and a hot cup of tea have me out walking the back garden.

If you are not a gardener you would see fallen sticks, brown and broken plants, weeds and bare bushes. It looks a mess as my niece describe her garden with the line “can I clean it up now?!” I have been urging her to wait. Just give the insects time to hatch and move out of the leaf litter and the hollow stems of last years plants. “But the new growth is pushing through” she says, “It looks awful.” I also know for a fact that my dear brother was up to visit her this weekend and I am sure he was ready to go at it. I expect his leaf blower and other man tools were there in the trunk of his care. I love his readiness to jump in and work. At times more than he can really physically handle but he is determined to have neat and orderly yards and gardens where ever he goes. But I am off topic – this is not about him it is about spring the flowers we love.

After a short walk around the back and front I realized the difference in my two gardens. Come summer you can not see it as clearly but with spring it becomes very obvious. One area is planted mainly with native plants which are not up yet it is too early for them and the other is ready for early blooms but those blooms are not native to northern midwest United States. It is those non natives that caught my attention this morning. Margaret Renkl’s opinion piece in the NYT may have added to my stark observation as well.

I love walking the front yard in the spring. It brings me back to my mothers yard and to my grandparents farm gardens in southern Iowa. It feels like home and even with the cool air around me I can hold the warm of coming spring days within me. It is a glorious feeling early in the morning. There are the Aconite’s already blooming, the tulip leaves are about 4 inches above ground, the daffodils are pushing up and there are crocus leaves just waiting for the buds to show up and flower. The Forsythia is beginning to bud out just a little and those bright yellow flowers will appear in another week or so. It will be a garden full of color, the neighborhood folks will walk by and admire. It is all a garden should be right?

Well, not really. Here is the thing all these wonderful bulbs and early spring flowering bushes come from other places in the world. They arrive from Holland by way of China or the Middle East. Some arrive from Japan. There are others that are native to northern Europe. They are great plants for the places they are native to. They fit the ecosystem of that area. They provide pollen for insects, shelter and food for the birds, lizards, and hundreds of other animals.

Here in the United States we have a different set of insects, birds, and animals. Yes there is some overlap but over all the non native plants do not provide what our native animals need. The non native plants have left little room for the native shrubs and flowers that our critters need and depend on. We are in fact starving our animal population when we let the non native plants take over.

All that said am I not ready to dump my be loved tulips or daffodils. Am I going to get rid of the tiny Forsythia bush I work hard each year to save from the winter rabbits? No, I am not personally ready for that but I am ready to be sure my garden has both native and non native plants. I am ready to find and replace some of my plants that are not open pollinators and those that don’t create seeds. The birds and little critters (that some time drive me nuts – talking about you Chipmunks!) need to feed on plant seeds and pollen. It is what keeps our world moving and healthy.

(SIDE NOTE: Open-pollination is when pollination occurs by insect, bird, wind, humans, or other natural mechanisms. Because there are no restrictions on the flow of pollen between individuals, open-pollinated plants are more genetically diverse. This can cause a greater amount of variation within plant populations, which allows plants to slowly adapt to local growing conditions and climate year-to-year).

My goal each year is to add to the native plant life that provides food, and shelter for the natural world around me. This means checking to see what plants in my yard produce seeds. What plants are the birds and insect spending time with each year? It means letting my garden be a bit messy through out the year. I am working towards having the back yard begin to look like an open meadow or beginning forest line. I would like it to be a place for animals and birds feel safe. ( I admit I am a long way from that image but am working toward it!)

Douglas W. Tallamy who wrote “Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.” Says if we all just added a small amount of native plants it collectively helps restore the ecosystem that is so disturbed right now.

As Margaret Renkl says – “Think of it: 20 million acres of ecosystem that is healthier for other creatures, healthier for human beings, healthier for the planet. With only the smallest effort and expense, we could restore to springtime its most urgent purpose: to bring new life into the world.”

Thanks Margaret for helping me see what steps I need to keep taking each spring!

What You May Not Know About Those April Flowers by Margaret Renkl https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/28/opinion/immigrant-plants-ecosystem.html

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Day 28 – #SOL2021: An end review with new thoughts

We are four days until the end of the March challenge. This month as gone by similar to my last year. The feeling of time moving way too fast and way too slow. I am always grateful for this month of writing. I often find my writing here on the blog beginning to slip as the year travels on. So by the time we have reached January of a new year I am barely writing.

March challenge give me a push to begin again. It allows me to again feel the power of putting words to paper/screen. Some years I feel I have had powerful topics to write about. There was so much happening in my life. The years when I was teaching, kids were home or close to home. Those years always provided food for thought and words for the page.

This year was quiet for many reasons.

This year for the first time since I was very young I was not working outside of the home. No paycheck here. It is a good thing really. I choose to let my part time job at a school go just as the pandemic got started. The school budget really could not handle the extra pay they were giving me. So I stepped down to let someone who needed a full time job help fill in their time. (Well, that all went crazy since my job was testing and there was no real testing this last year.) Less words when there are less interaction with work friends.

This year my son and wife returned to NYC so we were/are tracking their lives through FaceTime and not the person to person we had before. I also track them through Instagram when they post. It gives us a small window into their lives but once again less words with less personal interaction.

This year the pandemic hit and our friend group suddenly stopped. We were all pretty good at zoom meeting for the first few months but over the year we all tired of looking at screens. (especially those who were still working and this was their main source of work as well). There are a few of us who are still checking in through FaceTime or Zoom but the rest have dwindled to a few emails and text messages just to keep each other posted. Less personal interaction and less words.

It becomes clear with this writing here on the blog I often based my words on my interaction with people. It is not that I only write about the experience with people but it is the people who bring in new ideas, new thoughts or reflections. Conversations stimulate thinking and lead to reading or exploration of different thoughts or different perspective. For me it leads to more words – more ideas to think about and write about.

Interesting with this reflection that I find I do not write about all the reading I do. Maybe it is that this type of writing shows up in my personal journal. A personal reflection of thoughts and feelings. This is something to explore for myself as we move past this monthly challenge and into the weekly Tuesday Slice of Life.

Questions for me to think about my in regards to my writing:

  • What is the focus of my blog?
  • What topics or content do I write about?
  • Is my writing only people interaction based? it that a true statement?
  • Do I write about my reading and thinking in my personal journal?

As usual with my blogging free writes (a bit like morning page – begin and see where you end up)changed from what I was thinking I was writing about to a wider topic of my writing in general. I began this post thinking it would be a short reflection on this months challenge. Instead it became a reflection about the way I writing and how I find topics/content for my blog or my personal journal. Interesting how writing can take you places you did not plan on going.

It is interesting how my writing seems very different when writing on a screen for others and writing in my notebook for personal use. Yeah, I expected the personal writing to have more feelings and some emotions that would not be public but it is deeper than that. I have large sections about books I have read – not book reviews just my thinking. I have other sections about topics I find important to remember – Black Lives Matter, Integration, Schools, voting and politics. I wonder why those thoughts and ideas do not surface here on these pages. Is this a conscious choice, just chance?

Lots to think about –

Do you ever take time to think about what you write and why? This might be a good discussion with students. Why do we write and what value does it bring to you?

For me this March challenge showed me where I was struggling with topics and how I have been dependent of my people interaction to help me with topics. It will be interesting to go back now and look to see if this is true.

What do I really write about????

How about you? What did you learn this month about your writing? What do you write about? Do you keep a personal journal as well as your blog?

Does your blog have a focus or is it a free write – really a Slice of Life?

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Day 27 – #SOL2021: Nap Time

It is 9:30 and I am ready for bed. No it is not p.m. but a.m. It is still fairly early in the morning and my eyes are drooping. How can I take a nap when everyone is just getting up and eating breakfast?

Well, I had vaccine number two yesterday morning. The day went great. I felt a bit achy but no big deal. I was busy most of the day. We took a two mile walk in the afternoon and had a light dinner. I spent the evening reading – under a heavy blanket. I guess that should have been my clue that I was not going to sail through this vaccine as easily as I had hoped.

Once I crawled into bed planning on a good nights sleep it was clear the night was going to be an adventure. I could not go to sleep I just rolled around and did yoga breathing exercises to help me let go and relax. With each breath I seems to be getting more and more tense. There were all the arthritis spots in my body that called out to me. “Hey did you know you right thumb had arthritis or you left hip. Oh yeah, the middle of your back is also a great place to have things feel achy.” This sliding array of pain continued around my joints like a roller coaster ride. The beginning and ending spot for each ride seems to be at the injection site. It was clear I should keep moving that arm but doing so only sent the roller coaster running again.

Along side this rolling ache there was the steady headache and the hot flashes or chills. You pick which one you would like? They each came along at a regular time through out the night.

I was very happy to see the sun rise and with it the ache has slowed down. Through it all l realized I was happy to feel lousy and get little sleep if it meant protection from a much worse illness. I was happy to ache if it means within a few weeks and I can begin to see friends and family members face to face.

Now at 10:00 am happy to have been through shot number two – I am off to take a nap since it is all I am good for right now.

Catch you tomorrow!

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