What if we could fashion a restoration plan that grew from understanding multiple meanings of land? Land as sustainer. Land as identity. Land as grocery store and pharmacy. Land as connection to our ancestors. Land as moral obligation. Land as sacred. Land as self.
This past weekend, I just finished reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, after two years of picking it up and putting it down - not because it wasn’t captivating, but because I was having trouble making room for reading in my day to day.
Anyway, if you have not read this book, I wholeheartedly recommend taking a look. It contains a tremendous amount of wisdom about our relationship to nature, the Earth, and ourselves. It is a book that will help you to mourn what we have lost, come to terms with what we have done, but it also offers a way for us to move forward.
So, if you are feeling overwhelmed and lost in the panic of the climate crisis we are in, Braiding Sweetgrass and Robin Wall Kimmerer offer a guiding light and a mindset of reciprocity that will help to heal and hopefully grow out of this era of destruction.
You Are Nature!
While I just wrote more in depth about this in the Fall Issue of Woolgathering (New Issue coming out soon! It’s a good time to sign- up!), I thought it appropriate to share now since this is the first week of school for us!
Last year, I started waiting with Penelope for the bus each morning, when big brother Abe moved on to middle school and a different schedule, bus, etc. At first, I may have been a tiny bit resentful to spend my precious minutes that I could be working (self important - harrumph) waiting for a grumbling bus to arrive.
But, I soon realized what a gift these 15 minutes or so were to spend not only greeting the morning, noticing the weather, noticing the environment, but most importantly to spend extra time with Penelope.
With the construction on Rt. 31, the bus would often be late. So, we had to make our own fun, and we somehow began to study the Trumpet Vine that snakes around our Spring Bird sign and the honey suckle that lives there.
This Trumpet Vine is quite common in south to the point that it is a nuisance, but here at Spring Bird, the winter keeps it in check.
We notice all of the parts of the plant, the nubby bits that grow before the flowers and then the beautiful orange blossoms that remind me of the color of port wine spreadable cheese. We don’t pay too much attention to the green leaves that get sort of mixed-up with the honeysuckle, but the curious green pods that grow after the blossoms wither are our favorite. We watch the pods all year long. They grow brown and rattly in the winter. We watch what gets eaten and where. In the winter, the deer tracks in the snow give away the culprit.
We keep our eye on the trumpet vine each morning. It announces the beginning of the school year (for us, anyway), and will carry us into Summer vacation.
Have a great school year everyone! And for those not impacted by the school schedule, enjoy your empty local swimming pool, or lake, or park while the weather is warm!
My nephew Herbie is a joy! I love seeing the world through his eyes, especially since he is a keen observer of nature. He relates to plants, animals, stars, and the sky in such a beautiful and curious way. He is just really good at noticing, observing, and appreciating. Although, I think he thinks less of the insect world than all of the rest.
This Summer, I have had a couple of opportunities to camp with Herbie, and watching him engage with his environment - be it digging holes in the sand, talking to the trees, or laying in the grass and staring at the sky - he is content and full of wonder.
I am reminded of my brother Nick and I making mud pies behind our pop-up camper when we were his age. We were so delighted to have mud and sticks. There is a lot you can do with such things.
Anyway, this is a drawing of Herbie eating an ice cream cone at the campground last weekend.
Ice cream and camping equal two of my favorite aspects of Summer!
This is another drawing where I feel like it doesn’t live up to the original photo, which happened to be taken by Dawn Bertuca, this year’s Artist in Residence at Spring Bird!!!
Dawn is a macro-photographer. She uses her iPhone to take these incredible close-ups of nature. Check out her work here https://everybeautifulday.com/
I chose to draw the grasshopper because I am always surprised by their jumping. They blend in so well with the grass that I never notice them except for when they are in motion.
Their surprising me also always brings me joy. I laugh to myself seeing them hop about moving before I can really set my eyes on them and study them. I am like a kitten befuddled by their jumping.
What do you think about grasshoppers? Do they make you laugh, too?
There are times when nature makes us feel small but very important. I made this drawing of my cousin, Austen, walking in the shadows of redwoods. I tried to convey the gentleness, awe, and respect embodied in her photo.
Austen has been such a teacher to me about having wonder and curiosity for nature and science. She has taught me so many lessons on BEING in nature, for which I am so grateful!
Do you know that feeling of smallness yet greatness that nature can impart on us? Redwoods, mountains, flooding, and starry nights trigger that feeling in me.
This is what happened in July! It was a busy and hot month, and there were so many developments that I was only able to record the ones that stood out to me.
This drawing features a pair of happy siblings resting on a log after a hot walk in the woods.
It makes me feel appreciative for not only these moments of rest but the fallen trees that provide a comfortable place to rest our legs.
I can remember being a child with hot feet and aching legs that never could keep up with the adults who seemed to be walking three times as fast. A chance to sit was everything -- until it was time to get up again and keep walking.
It was a joy to draw these two happy kids. Thank you to their Mom, Shannon, for giving me the opportunity to draw them!
Hello! I have been very interested in drawing and documenting our life at Spring Bird, our connection to nature, and our love of nature.
BUT, I am interested in showcasing how others are living their lives in nature, expressing their connection to nature, and noticing nature.
So, I would LOVE to make a drawing of a photo of you engaging with nature or a photo you took featuring nature. I plan on sharing your photo in this blog and in social media.
If you are interested in having me draw one of your photos, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "nature drawing" in the subject line of the email! Let me know if you'd like me to tag you in the post!
Thank you in advance! I can't wait to share your love of nature with my audience!!!!
Cousin Luke and his chicken pose with the first egg!
I love that Luke adores his backyard chickens and cares for them so well. He always updates me as to how Lloyd the Chicken is doing when he visits Spring Bird.
I think it's so great that he is learning to care for animals at a young age and is growing up gardening with his Mom, Nicole.
Thanks Luke for sharing this photo and this special moment of the first egg!
This Summer, Pat has been teaching the kids how to cook dinner and desserts. I am so grateful that everyone enjoys cooking, learning new recipes, and most importanly, eating!
Here is a drawing of Abe chopping potatoes to be roasted.
We've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen not cooking too. Since the downstairs has become HQ during this heat and humidity. It's been so hot that we have decided to begin a taco tasteoff. We are going to try tacos at a number of local restaurants and determine the best. In particular, we are looking for the best Al Pastor tacos near us.
It's the best kind of research project for sure!
What do you like to eat and/or cook when it's too hot to turn the oven on?
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.