The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

Beauty and the Beast

DSC04039Home from travels and thinking, again, about weeds.  Ah…weeds.

One of my stops was in Kansas, a visit organized by LeAnn Clark–astounding volunteer for Ethiopia Reads who has gathered and sorted and figured out how to ship about 300,000 gently used children’s books to Ethiopia.  She was impressed with how much more I know about plants and flowers now .  LeAnn and I did two events to raise money for Ethiopia Reads, events centered around my Lanie books.  At one of the stations, kids planted flowers in cups and mugs that LeAnn and I bought at the thrift shop for 10 and 25 cents.  (Local nurseries donated the plants.)

What thralldom…to think about actual seeds and also the reading seeds we’re planting.

???????????????????????????????Back in Portland, I’ve had a few days to mull my garden again.  Some plants clearly don’t take much patience.

We stuck these azalea bushes in the ground last year, for instance, and did what we could to make the earth acidic and–wowee!  I came home from Kansas this spring to find them turned into princess-ey wonders, fluffing their pink around them.

Some plants take mucho patience.  Last year, my sister Caroline gave me a few transplants from her garden and one looked like…um…a STICK most of the spring and summer season.  I had to put rocks in a circle around it to keep from accidentally stepping on it.

It didn’t go away all rainy winter and now it has buds on it for the first time.

DSC04093Last spring, I also planted some oooold wildflowers seeds I’d had around for years and wasn’t even sure what the baby plants were going to look like.  I kept asking my sister Cathy, “Do you think that’s a plant or a weed?”  Finally, I was convinced I was seeing feathery teeny plants that were NOT weeds.  But they never flowered.

This year they did!

DSC04100I even learned from a book LeAnn handed me that they are perennial.  Maybe I’ll have poppies in my garden from now on.

This spring, with the front gardens in pretty awesome shape, I’ve been looking at the back yard for the first time.  A neglected back yard that had dogs running around it before and (thus) some big bare spots.  I’ve read and read about aggressive, noxious, invasive, nuisance weeds–and I finally found a website where I think I’ve signed up with someone from the Audubon Society in Portland to come tell me about my weeds and how to create better habitat in my yard, a la Lanie.

And you know what?  I think Ma Nature did give me ONE good, native weed.

DSC04095I think this is fringecup, a lot like but NOT garlic mustard, which I believe I can now identify and have been pulling and pulling and pulling.  Yesterday, I transplanted it from this corner spot into my back yard where I hope it will flourish and spread.

In Maji, Ethiopia, I learned to love the smell of earth and weeds and grass–and now I’m coming around to a whole new world of weeds and grass and earth.  Some of this is HARD.  Some is vastly fun.

Stay tuned for whether I think there is ANY hope for a Backyard Habitat Certificate somewhere down the road!

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