This week we are working on the letter B, and after telling the story of the Bremen Town Musicians we snuggled up on the couch to read “Winter Buds”, a book from the library. A change has ocurred in my almost 7 year old- he only wants me to read non-fiction. He still likes the stories I tell- he was cracking up about the Bremen Musicians- but when we go to the library, it is straight to the non-fiction section! So, rather than having to read about natural disasters and trains and trucks and spies and chemical reactions (I do *sometimes*), we’ve been finding science books about what is going on around us outside that I will enjoy reading as much as him. 😉 Winter buds is a lovely book about the sleeping buds that are just ready to blossom, perfectly formed and folded up inside their wintry brown jackets. This is a great time to cut some forsythia or pussy willow branches and watch them bloom on the nature table as the warmth of the house awakes them. Other branches will bloom early in the house too, but may take a little longer. Try crabapple, apple, cherry, and magnolia branches for a splash of early spring beauty. Here is a little how-to article on forcing spring blossoms. Some of your branches may even form roots in the vase after a while, and can be re-potted as a transplant, a brand new tree or shrub beginning to grow! I think this is a magical process for children to see, and around this time we tend to start many “experiments”.
This is a picture from last year, with our forsythia blooming behind the bird I am holding. That is another spring tradition- when we stop using the woodstove, starlings looking for a good place to nest inevitably poke around in the woodstove chimney pipe, fall down, and end up being caught by me (to the delight of my children) after swooping around the house and getting stuck in the lace curtains!
Another wonderful book we are enjoying is Linnea’s Windowsill Garden by Christina Bjork. This is a keeper, and one to buy (I snagged a used copy on Half.com for .75 cents plus shipping). Linnea is a little girl who loves to grow things, and her house in the city is full of plants. She visits her neighbor, Mr. Bloom, who gives her all sorts of tips on growing all things green. In addition to all the great information for the young green thumb, there are so many projects to try- from beginning root vegetables from leftover tops (kitchen scraps), to a counting game using plum pits and beans, to using young greens grown in a windowsill box (such as cress) in recipes.
According to the biodynamic gardening calendar, it was a good time to plant “fruiting” plants, so we started our peppers. So far we are growing golden marconi (these look absolutely perfect for making stuffed pepper tapas in summer for parties and barbecues!), orange bell peppers, cayenne, and jalapenos. We have a little song we sing to wake up the seed babies, and as we sing we hold our seeds in the palm of our hands (closing our fists) Ringing Cedars style… to let the seeds “read” our biological information (such as our body ph from our sweat, bacteria on our hands, etc) and get to know us a little, so they can grow especially for us, creating a healing garden that best meets our needs for nutrients. We imagine them growing tall and strong as we sing…
Now it’s time to wake up, wake up, wake up
Now it’s time to wake up, wake up little seeds.
Daffodils are blooming, blooming, blooming
Daffodils are blooming, soon you will bloom too.
Then you’ll feel the sunlight, sunlight, sunlight
Then you’ll feel the sunlight on your little leaves.
It was sixty degrees in the northeast, and we spent some time enjoying the woods for our nature walk. We admired the buds along the way, probably millions all around us- such a beautiful thought, itsn’t it, all those tiny sleeping babies above us hanging in the trees, and below our feet little shoots beginning to grow, too. Digging in the dirt with rocks, the boys found a wee little ramp shoot. Soon is will be time to enjoy the wild leeks (ramps) again! I savored the smell of that first hope of spring edibles, with its spicy garlic and onion scent.
We also spotted an example of a special kind of bud that develops from trees that have been damaged (perhaps by fire, or lightning, or simply being cut down). Certain trees have dormant buds which lie just inside the cambium layer, and will sprout brand new trees from the old trunk. This can even result in twin or triplet trees.
When I saw this tree, it reminded me of people whose lives have been “cut down” by tragedy. And though the damage is evident, they choose a path of new life, new hope, and perseverance. I think there are parts of my own life right now where I feel like elements that are dear to me have been cut down, where things I thought would grow tall and flourish have been diminshed and new growth will have to come from another source. I hope I can be like this tree, and create abundance in response to disappointment.
We will be busy planting our tomatoes ( I get a little crazy about tomatoes, and plan to start a dozen each of eight different varieties!), crafting bud babies from wool felt, enjoying St. Patrick’s Day activities at homeschool co-op, and savoring the last days of winter and the first signs of spring. What signs are you seeing in your neck of the woods?