On the Road: Kingdom Plantae
Well hello, friends!
We are so glad to be together again:)
This week, we have been feeling extra grateful for the SUNSHINE that finally peeked out to warm our bones. Remember to get 10 minutes of sun each day to help your body activate the important Vitamin D it needs. Can you think of a living thing that depends on sunlight to survive: plants!
Many families have been spending more time out in Nature while social distancing---my family has been going on waaaaaaay more hikes then ever, Bookkitty even invested in a pair of ELECTRIC LIME :) snow pants to keep her legs warm during the icy-rainy winter weather.
Let's look at the 3 "rules" Bookkitty likes to follow:
Rule #1: Know what you know
Whether you have always enjoyed time outdoors or are new to the action, you can find some helpful resources at the library. One of my favorites is this field guide by the Audobon Society. You can easily stash the book in a backpack or large pocket when outdoors. There are even some apps you can have on a smartphone that help with plant identification. Knowing what kind of plants are around you is really important: how to avoid poison ivy, plants soothe mostquito bites, trees that make awesome smelling bbq, to name a few. Guidebooks are an important tool we can use to help us stay safe, by teaching us how to recognize plants that are friendly to humans & those that provide a more complicated relationship.
This is a screen print made by Bookkitty's sister, Em. (You can watch a video about how this type of print is made.) The plants in this print are all POISON. That means they are toxic or harmful to people---but just like all living things, they play an important part in our ecosystem. For example, holly berries are food for birds & fungi help clean up by using nutrients found in decomposing matter! So, know what you know & then find out how to know more...
Rule #2: Say "Please" & "Thank You"
Bookkitty learned this bit of wisdom from her sister, who is not only an incredible artist, but a plant guru. Before pulling a leaf or digging a bulb, ask for permission & thank the plant afterwards. (Ok, ok you can totally laugh nextime you stoop down to pick a dandelion & remember Bookkitty telling you this). Maybe it sounds silly, because plants don't have brains. They are alive, though & eveything deserves treated with care. So before you pick something, take a moment to look around, think "hmmmm, does this plant really want me to pick it? Do I really need to have a piece of this plant?" There is something really special that happens in our hearts when we practice being respectful to all living things.
We rely on plants for many things, not the least of which fresh air & food. Some other things we have used plants for in my home are: cat toys, hand salve, decoration & tea. Some of these things are scavenged, like sticks & branches that were knocked down by wind. Others were harvested, like plantain-infused wax & rose hip tea. Take a look around your home, how many things that are made with or from plants can you find?
Rule #3: Be mindful
So this one is pretty simple. If you harvest a plant, don't take all of the plant. Remember that the plant wants to make more of itself, with flowers, seeds, shoots & roots...If we take it all, there won't be any left. Just be considerate, take only what you need. And don't forget to say "thank you."
February: Thinking of Flowers
Now wind torments the field, Turning the white surface back On itself, back and back on itself, Like an animal licking a wound.
Nothing but white the air, the light; Only one brown milkweed pod Bobbing in the gully, smallest Brown boat on the immense tide.
A single green sprouting thing Would restore me. . . .
Then think of the tall delphinium, Swaying, or the bee when it comes To the tongue of the burgundy lily.
I thought it would be fun to finish up our time together with a look at symbolism. You know, the idea that something simple & real stands for a complex idea or thing. For example, if you think of a symbol for the word (or idea) love, many people will imagine this:
Close your eyes, think about your personality, who you are, who you dream to become. Can you think of a plant that could be your symbol? Something, maybe a flower that represents the idea of YOU. Check this list to get some ideas & help you decide. (*Generally we try to avoid using Wikipedia as a source for research but in this case, collective wisdom allows us to tap into the folk understanding of flowers as symbolism across multiple cultural identities.) Maybe you will want to do some more research to learn about the plant. Or maybe you can order seeds & plant this special flower in the springtime in your own garden.