Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Stroll - Seymour & Audrey Visit Micah

 "Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen."
– Orhan Pamuk

"Thanks for sharing your water.  What's next?"

"Thanks for sharing your bone.  What's next?"

" A hill?!  Yyyyeeeeesssssssss!"

"Can we get in the water?  Can we? Can we?"

"Thanks for spending the day with me!  I can see you feel as tired and happy as I do!"

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you good company.

Speaking of good company, 
you may enjoy a visit with Steve Out on the Prairie to see roses blooming.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Little Quote and A Little Note

Viola Pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

These have been busy days, these days of middle Spring.  We have begun to plant the garden, beginning with crops that can withstand a bit of cold.  Onions are in and set potatoes have been tucked into the soil with the assistance of an old fashioned potato planter, borrowed from a friend. Some herb seeds have been sprinkled on the soil, and a few other herbs transplanted.  Our new tea garden is taking shape!  
Cardamine diphylla (Crinkleroot)

I have had one or two speaking engagements a week since the first week of May and have loved the interaction with other gardeners, or those who are exploring the idea of becoming gardeners!  After speaking at a lovely local library this afternoon, I came home and tromped through the woods with Micah, returning to the house just in time to connect with a beekeeping friend who came to give us advice on our, now sadly empty, hives.  We need those pollinators!


Wild flowers are springing up in the woods and the dandelions are flourishing.  We have been eating asparagus and herbs from the garden and are looking forward to the abundance of fresh produce that the months ahead will bring.  These activities - the walks, the ephemeral wild blossoms, the asparagus - all say "Spring" to me with such beautiful clarity.  What does your ideal version of Spring look like?

Antennaria Plantaginifolia (Plantain Leaved Pussytoes)

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you joy.

quote from:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sunday Stroll - Mother's Day

"Mother Nature has the power to please,
to comfort, to calm,
and to nurture one's soul."

~ Anthony Douglas Williams

On Sunday afternoon, 
my Mother's Day Gang and I headed out
 to the Shale Bluffs on a nearby beach 
for  a long walk and some beach combing.

Aquilegia canadensis
We found the elegant leaves of wild columbine pushing up through the shale.

Arabidopsis lyrata

Nearby, tiny rockcress flowers hovered above the sand in soft white clouds.

The creek emptied into Lake Michigan quietly,

as the sun warmed our happy faces.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you happiness.

If you have a minute, please go look at the beautiful kites on 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Ground Level

Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Wild Violet (Viola odorata) 

Dandelion and honeybee (Taraxacum officinales & Apis mellifera)

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday Stroll - Prayer Flags

Nature will bear the closest inspection. 
She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, 
and take an insect view of its plain. 
Henry David Thoreau

A few leaves of silver-green
appear in the tangled branches of ancient apple trees,
near a clearing in the heart of the woods.
As we walk by,
the leaves and I are shivering in the morning air.
I pull my hands up into the sleeves of my bulky sweater, 
but my canine companion is comfortable in his fur coat.

It appears that the sand-cherry trees have burst into flame,
Their bitter fruit are only pleasing to birds,
but their prayer-flag leaves are a celebration.

Beneath a tall maple,
I stand and listen to the wind.
I am still,
but the green maple flowers are dancing.

Red twigged dogwood stems

echo the scarlet tones of these showy leaves.
The delicate blossoms blush as they are held up to the light.

Some trees hide their lemon-lime bouquets of foliage in the shade,

while others stretch their branches out like an offering to the meadow.

In the wetlands, the perfect blue of the sky,
is reflected by the shallow water.
Micah likes to wade in, 
dragging his belly in the fragrant muck,
but I prefer to stand at the edge
and listen to the chattering of the birds
and the fluttering of the leaves.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you serenity.

Steve strolled too!  Check out the Sunny Delights at Out on the Prairie.

Read more at:

Friday, May 05, 2017

Doodlebugs - Circles in the Soil

As children, my brothers and cousins and I spun sticks in the soil, drawing tiny revolutions in the earth, chanting a silly song and urging the “doodlebug” to rise.  We never saw one that I can remember, although we chased plenty of fireflies and dodged a thousand dragonflies in the meadows.  As an adult, I learned that “doodlebug” is one name for an antlion, an interesting burrowing insect, and I did get to see one once with my children at a local nature center, a childhood dream realized. 

As gardeners, we draw larger circles in the soil, as we circle through the seasons.  However, our circles are not literal, but rather conceptual, for gardening is not a simple story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Rather it is a circle, the “wheel of the year,” an idea often associated with Pagan beliefs, but very practical and present in any agricultural society.  In fact, in awareness of the seasons, the Farmer’s Almanac still includes a guide for “planting by the moon.”

Each season has its focus, but there is great deal of overlap as one season merges into the next. In a nutshell,  winter is for dreaming, for seed orders and for planning.  However, it is also a time to plant seeds indoors to get an early start, especially for those of us in a geographic location with a relatively short growing season.

Spring, then, is for preparation, for tilling and amending the soil, and for planting.  However, it is also a time to begin to harvest the first crops: to pluck tender young sorrel on frosty mornings, to harvest chives, and asparagus, and the red/green stalks of rhubarb.  Rather than calling up the doodlebug by spinning a stick in the soil, we are giving to the earthworm, and to the other subsoil species.  We are nourishing the “biology” of the soil through composts and cover crops gently rolled into the earth, with the slow motion “low till” method that we use on our farm.

Summer is for nurturing, for tending and weeding, for side dressing and pest management, for watching and watering.  It is a busy season, full of wide-brimmed hats and basil lemon-aid.  But, it is also a time for  harvesting, nibbling as you go, for preserving summer bounty in pickles and jams, that you will pop in your mouth in mid-winter, a visceral reminder of warmer days.  And, summer is a time for planting successive crops to replace things already harvested, or cover crops to nourish the soil and to prevent a rampant takeover by weedy invaders.

Autumn, the bountiful season, is for harvesting by the wheel-barrow full, for preserving, for storing in the cellar.  It is the time for a post-harvest pampering, spa days for the soil, as cover crops are planted and composts applied.  However, it is also a time to plant next summer’s garlic and one last crop of salad greens or kale, which may re-emerge, tender and ready for the table, in April.

Day follows night. The moon waxes and wanes.  Colored leaves pour like nutrient-rich rain upon the earth, until the snows come and the garden sleeps.  Winter again.  And winter is a time for dreaming.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you a beautiful season.

A note: The contents of this essay are the basis for one of the talks I am doing locally, along with a book signing.  I hope to post the "lesson" content of the class during the next week.  Stay tuned!  :)

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Childhood Friend

She is a friend I have known since childhood.  
We played together
where the light fell through the branches
and splashed upon the forest floor.

She goes by many names, this shy blossom:
Dogtooth Violet, Trout Lily, or Adders Tongue.

Her long, oft forgotten name, is Erythronium americanum,
and, when you whisper it in the woodland, magic happens.  
Say it softly and the wind will catch the sound and carry it away.

When you walk through the woodland,
look down, and step carefully.
Her leaves are many, but her petals are few.

If you slow down enough,
if you forget the wild scurry of the people in the world,
you may hear her sing and it will sound
like sunlight kissing the stillness of the afternoon. 

If you bend low enough,
if you look closely,
you may see her wave goodbye.

She is ephemeral, this woodland lily,
she is here-and-gone,
but you will see her again,
this childhood friend,
when spring rolls around once more.