Spring Walking

On a walk the other day, I came across a four square board painted on the patio of an apartment building. I haven’t played the game since grade school. It reminded me of the time I painted a four square board in the basement of my grandmother’s house.Four square board.

While it seemed reasonable to my grandmother that I draw it in chalk, it seemed more reasonable to me that I paint it with something less smear-able, like some leftover house paint I found on a shelf. These elements seemed so reasonable to each of us that neither of us felt the need to cover this detail. A lesson for both of us, I guess. There were a lot of lessons learned between the two of us that summer.

As I write this post, the sweet smell of apple blossom and lilac drift through my open window, punctuated by the occasional green of the neighbors’ clipped grass. A squirming parade of day care kids are walking to the park down the street.

Summer in Minnesota is so vibrant, and not just in the botanical sense. From the first warming of the weather, people emerge and unfold with verve. There are so many good reasons to be outside, both with and without social engagement.

After this intense, interior winter I’m flinging myself outdoors as often as possible. We’ve been waking up gardens and clearing old stems & leaves from flower beds. It’s so tempting to start putting plants in the ground but in the upper mid-west I’ve learned to wait until after Mother’s day. There’s still about a week of winds and rain that could be cold enough to chill most plant starts, or keep soil from warming sufficiently to germinate seeds.

Of course there are those hardy sorts; cruciferous veggies, dandelions, rhubarb, and tulips. Like folks who put on shorts and run around barefoot in April, they relish those first crisply, chilly-warm days of spring. Rhubarb, in fact, needs a cold spring to break its frosty winter fast. Every now and then I meet a northerner living in the south who misses their beloved tart and astringent treat, unaware that this robust monster didn’t just grow everywhere.

Dandelions, though, I think, grow everywhere. Weeds, to those who believe their lawns need to be boring, green carpets. Dandelions in blossom petals.This plant is edible in so many ways from root to greens to florets. It can also be bitter, so the key to an enjoyable harvest is timing. Like the roots; they aren’t starchy and can get bitter as they use their sugars to grow but a good frost can sweeten them back up. So, if you’re foraging dandelions and run into an unsatisfactory result, don’t give up, Read Up.

I think dandelions wouldn’t be a bane to so many if they were a regular part of our diet.

Prep for the Prep for Launch

I have this road atlas of North America, an actual paper map book. A gift from my friend Kelly Q. It’s as much a ritual piece as it is a tool, a magic book of choose-your-own adventures.

Kelly's Road AtlasI adore paper maps. It’s a thing, straight from childhood. I remember sitting in the back seat of the car on family trips, where I’d keep track of our progress on a map by watching milestones and landmarks. I would envision our car as a little dot moving along the wandering lines. It pleased me to no end when that imaginary dot on the map coincided with actual progress. (Hm, and now I have digital applications that provide this entertainment with little calculation on my part.)

Yesterday, I laid out Kelly’s road atlas upon my desk and settled in with a nice cup of tea to read it.

I’ll be heading to back to New York state, embarking somewhere mid-May to early June. The destination is firm but I have so many beautiful options on how I’ll get there. Friends and family to visit, art farms to find, and odd little spots to stand in and look out from. Activities and resources will determine the how and the when, so launch day is a little squishy this time around. I’ve got a couple of open ended tasks and some events I’d like to be a part of.

It’s difficult to wait on exciting things. While I like to start my preparations with enough time to take care of unexpected events, I avoid starting too soon. I get fidgety in those quiet moments between planning and realization but I think I’m getting the hang of finding the right balance between living in the now and planning for the later.

A quiet moment with the map book has me calculating distances and backtracking between destinations to determine travel times. This gives me an idea of expenses to prepare for, figuring what I can literally afford to do on my way, and a vague idea of time required to do it. That’s it, that’s all I need to do today.

Just a little toe in the water to settle my ‘what if’s and germinate the seeds of my summer adventure.

You’re a Homeless Person if…

Recently, a friend told me that his teenage nephew, whom I know on a pleasant acquaintance level, asked him if I was homeless.

I asked my friend what his response to his nephew was and he says, “well, you are, kinda, ‘yeah’?”

I took slight umbrage. I don’t feel or identify myself as homeless. I’m not out on the street corners holding signs, though I’m not exactly a conventional wage earner. Continue reading You’re a Homeless Person if…

No Matter What, part 2

150104_4I’m listening and trying to gauge her level of estrangement from reality. Is she just temporarily anguished, or adrift in crazy waters over a nasty undertow? I weigh her words against my understanding of angels, and spirits, and babies. I am one of those skeptics who would love to believe in angels and that there are guardian spirits who love us and Continue reading No Matter What, part 2