Ants hang out around scale insects and other insects that suck plant juices. They feed on their sweet “honeydew” secretions.  They also sometimes feed on the insects themselves, helping the plant in this way. These are on Rosa Rugosa.

Horsechestnut flowers change color after being pollinated so that they are no longer attractive to their pollinators.

We talk about individual organisms as if there were such a thing. We are made of many. When we look at another organism, we look at an interdependent intertwining group. We need the bacteria inside us, the insects need the plants and the plants need the insects. We all need each other. If you, or I, ever feel lonely, we can remember we are always filled and surrounded by other beings. We are we. Photo of insect (likely ladybug) eggs on Rosa rugosa by Rebecca Arnoldi)

Today I don’t feel clear and bright and open to the sky like the leaves of grass in sunlight. Today I feel more like the dark deep shadowy soil and the violet that grows out of it. Veins looping a flow of sugar and water through thick heart-shaped jagged leaves and thin high stems. Purple petals hold sweetness. Some face the sky, some face the intimate earth.

Why do so many people hate this plant?

Garlic mustard like other “invasives” came from afar (Eurasia in this case). It thrives here and can take over an area. This plant, like many other “invasives”, grows well in areas disturbed by us. It’s roots put out a chemical that damages mycorrhizal fungi that other plants depend on. And deer don’t eat it.

BUT

Don’t worry if you have garlic mustard growing around you. It’s edible! And while it may be bitter it’s super high in vitamin C, E, Zinc, omega -3 fatty acids, calcium and iron.

I just had my first garlic mustard salad! The vinegar, oil and salt helped mitigate the bitterness.

If you do collect some to eat, don’t go too crazy, it has some compounds that might not be good for you in excess.

I say, let’s celebrate this resilient survivor from afar and let’s have some salad!

sources/ resources:

Peter Del Tredici, Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast; John Kallas, Edible Wild Plants

I guess you could say we all feed from the sun and are ultimately made of sunlight.

My dog was digging around in brambles and leaf litter. Then I saw her 13 year old self wagging her tail with the excitement of a puppy, looking into the fenced garden wanting something. I followed her gaze and saw one, two, three, four babies, eyes closed, white fur stars on their heads. One shivered in the shadows, opened its eyes and began to slowly wobble toward sunlight. Its difficulty moving and vulnerability echoed reminded me of elder mammals, even humans. I guess we are most vulnerable at the beginning and end of our lives.

I can only guess what happened before this sleepy moment in the garden, or what will happen later. I wish the tiny creatures luck, knowing that if all rabbit babies survived, there would be no violets. Good luck to all of the spring babies, including the rabbits, the foxes, the coyotes, the hawks and the violets.

Elm buds (Photo by Rebecca Arnoldi)

Parts of a whole can seem completely separate. Humanity is experiencing social separation. This common experience unites us. We are truly alone together. And while socially separate from other humans we may as well go deeper into our connection with the plants, animals, and other life forms that surround us.

Some of the blossoms have five petals opening to pollinators and bright yellow stamens offering pollen to the world. Others have lost their petals and their stamens have reddened, no longer singing to the bees.

I want to share what I see. I’m always hoping that someone else will get it. That my exploration will also be communication, existing in an overlapping sphere of perception and awareness. I sometime fail, and so a brilliant silence is held in my heart.

Our skin let’s us take in the world with all of its dangers and its beauty. The world touches us- sound waves touch our ears, light waves touch our eyes, chemicals touch our nose… the air, the water, the earth and its life forms touch our skin. We are essentially open to the world. We are sensitive and vulnerable. And we are one with all that touches us. One with all of the earth. One with danger and one with love. One with ugliness and also with beauty. And in the ugliness is a divine order full of beauty. There is even love and peace in the danger and the fear.

(Photograph of moss growing in the crevices of a Maple’s bark to come)

Maples are home; I grew up with four Norway Maples guarding the corners of the backyard.  One was also the swing tree; I found both wild freedom and peace swinging under that Maple. When it went down, my childhood sense of harmony and security shook.

Yesterday I walked around looking at tree buds and flowers, surrounded by all of the other corona virus social separation refugees. There were more than a few riding running talking yelling children with no school day on a school day.

I saw spectacular tree flowers. Many tree flowers are easy to miss: small and inconspicuous, pollinated by wind with no need for large showy petals, bright insect attracting colors and sweet fragrances.  Some, like the Magnolia, break that generalization down completely, and some, like the Red Maple fall somewhere in-between. Small but full of colorful splendor. And powerful in their symmetry.

I hope others are finding comfort, peace and inspiration in the beauty of Spring Equinox.

Happy Spring!