what lights you up?
I gave a workshop today for 40 participants. When we started, I asked everyone in the room to turn to their neighbor and ask “what lights you up?”. It’s a simple cocktail party ice breaker, that almost always leads to more interesting conversations than “what do you do?”. I started, by way of example, with holding up this dried okra stems and said “this lights me!” and then went on about my love of seed pods, and my delight in finding this one stem with an unusual okra pod that had curled in on itself in a perfect helix. And then, to my astonishment, each participant turned to their neighbor and the room literally exploded into conversation. It was a good five minutes or more before I could get them to even hear me above the din so that I could start my presentation. How I wish I could have heard all 40 answers! Anyway, it worked like a charm. We were only just getting started, and the group had already formed a community. And so, I ask you, dear reader, what lights you up?
dried okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)
buds with fur coats
Minnesota is lucky to have a lot of fresh water. Which means we have a lot of willow. Willows love wetlands. I just looked it up, and it appears we have 18 different kinds of native willows. Pussy willow, the willow flower buds with their furry coats, are without fail one of the very first signs of spring here in the North. This particular one is new to me, it is purple prairie willow. The flowers are small catkins, produced in early spring; they are often purple or red in color, hence the name of the species (other willows mostly have whitish, yellow or green catkins). I only grabbed a few stems, and when I got home, I realized I had been to hasty–because the bud casings are an eye-catching metallic copper color, and it was actually the shiny copper casings that first caught my attention. Reminder to self: slow down, take your time, there is no hurry.
P.S. When you read this today, I will be giving a ½ day workshop to 40 participants. I have been prepping like crazy–40 is a lot. Hence the hurrying. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
purple prairie willow (Salix purpurea)
My sister-in-law was just telling me about a gift of three months of forced spring branches that she ordered for her mom recently from White Flower Farm; quince, forsythia, and magnolia. It sounded like a great gift idea. These are the same poplar catkin buds I shared with you three days ago. They have been in the house–in water with no wind–so they are more fluffy than you would normally find outside in spring. It got me wondering…forced catkins? Is anyone offering subscriptions for forced spring catkins? Pussy willow, birch, and alder perhaps? #justsaying
snow at last!
Have you recovered from yesterday’s deer spine? LOL. Good news, we finally got some snow–2 inches of wet sticky snow. Finally a blanket of white. Many of our native northern plants rely on a blanket of snow in winter. The snowpack acts as an insulator, protecting roots from the harsh temperatures. There is also a number of small critters that rely on the cover of snow, making highways under the protective blanket, so that they can forage without becoming easy targets for prey. I have no idea how long this snow will last. But it is a welcome change for now. These stems (false indigo, I believe) caught my attention on today’s walk because of the way each leaf is curled up like a scroll. Each stem, a library of ancient wisdom.
(false indigo?) stems in winter
not your typical valentine
I found this white tailed deer spine in my woods today. It’s not what i planned on sharing with you for Valentine’s Day. But it is what I found on my walk this afternoon. Y’all know how much I like surprising you.
Happy valentines Day!
white tailed deer spine