I found my old nature journal this week. My last entry, dated Fall 2008, inspired me to fulfill a dream I’ve been scheming for some time now. I woke up early Sunday morning to begin gathering schizocarps–those helicopters that fall from maple trees–from around my neighborhood. Thanks to the three friends who helped me gather these wonders throughout the day. I will still need to gather more before our next snow fall, if anyone else is interested in helping 🙂 First I’ll share the journal entry, then I’ll tell you about my dream that will soon become reality…
I have become enamored by schizocarps. Seriously?! Billions of twirly-birds all falling to the earth in unison?! Billions of winged maples-in-embryo spiraling over the Northern Hemisphere. Billions over BYU’s campus alone. One afternoon I gathered 4 grocery sacks of schizocarps. It took no more than two hours with 2 of us gathering. The street gutters were lined with them. The grass cupped them like children hoarding candy on Halloween. The sidewalks were blanketed with them- all facing the way of the wind. In the half-inch cracks between cemented sidewalk slabs, schizocarps were packed tightly, nose down, just like an over-zealous litter of piglettes all trying to get a mouthful of teat. I like that metaphor: the Earth as a giant mammary gland, a wellspring of mother’s milk. Countless numbers of tongue-like roots pressing earth-ward, pulling in moisture and nutrients, grabbing hold to the solid ground. Filling and stabilizing. Supporting and nurturing.
My plan is to find a nice courtyard with high walls from which the thousands of schizocarps can be let loose. While the magical spirals descend, people will dance and frolic. Doesn’t it sound lovely? I’m excited to make it happen.
Let me know if you have a decent pile of schizocarps near your house.
I had a magical childhood. My family lived in a large old Victorian house, where the ballroom-sized attic and the dungeon-like basement made for wonderful play-time adventures. The house is in a small town in southern Wisconsin, a place where I still know dozens of people when I walk into the grocery store. The small-ness of Baraboo made me feel very important. A large-sized photo of me made it into the city newspaper many times each year– for attending a parade, for reading a book on the steps of the library, for setting up a lemonade stand, for participating in a basketball game or a cross country race, for going to a highschool dance…
Today I was home sick (trying to sooth way a sore throat), and started to feel a little homesick (wishing I could just walk into that old familiar grocery store and chat with people who knew me back when I was an adorable toothless toddler). So, I was grateful that google images could take me on an at-a-distance tour of some of the places and things that contributed to my magical childhood. I thought you might like to join me, so I kept a log of my google-travels.
Here’s a view of one of my favorite hikes and swims, a 3 mile drive from my house. I went here with my mom this summer, and will have to share some of those photos soon:
Baraboo’s ‘International Crane Foundation‘, where you can see all 15 species of crane on one reserve. In grade school we learned how this organization brought the Whooping Crane from near extinction to it’s current thriving population. I felt so proud. It’s a magical thing to see this bird dance and play in the water near my home.
Aldo Leopold’s Shack is the site of both the writing of ‘A Sand County Almanac‘ and a contributor to my environmental ethic. It’s a ten minute drive from my house, but it took traveling half way around the world to discover how famous both Leopold and his shack are. I’m hoping some day to name a son Leopold.
Jewel Weed, Impatiens capensis, was one of my first magic plants. I learned to identify it very quickly because the juice from its stem will instantly remove the burn and sting from poison ivy or stinging nettle. And, to top it off, the seed pods spring out in confetti-like spirals when touched just right.
Devil’s Lake State Park. These bluffs were once part of an ancient mountain range. I remember feeling so proud when I learned that the ice-age glaciers stopped and melted when they reached these rocks. I felt like, if the bluffs could stop a glacier, they could protect me from anything.
Forevertron, a random sculpture behind Delaney’s Junk Yard. I don’t know the story behind it, but I always looked for it when we drove along Hwy 12 toward Madison.
Al Ringling Theater, modeled after a theater in Versailles (palace of the French Sun King). I performed in Cinderella and Pinocchio and numerous band and choir concerts on this stage.
The Circus World Museum: Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. In the summer months, you can hear circus music all over town. I used to dream of being a contortionist and running away with the circus. It’s a shame that never happened. But, my mom does use elephant dung to fertilize her garden each summer.
The Ho-Chunk Nation. They treated me to my first pow-wow. Afterward, I begged my mom for fry bread so often that she taught me how to make it for myself. (That was before I’d learned about the unfortunate and sad history of how fry-bread came to be a traditional food for Native Americans…)
Amish and Minnonites. My grandparents sold their farm to a Mennonite family, and I was lucky enough to become friends with Norma, a young girl my age. I felt sorry that Norma only went to school until she was 15, but I was also jealous of her connection to her community and the land. I still dream of moving back to be a midwife for the Minnonites…one day.
Canopied roads. I love the mountains of the west, but my soul feels most at home in a forest.
Well, thanks for joining that little journey.
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,–
Prodigal of blue,
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover’s words.
Thank you, Emily Dickinson, for helping me to appreciate
the spectacular colors of this season.
This summer I had the road-trip of a lifetime with my now adult brothers who were little mysterious 10 and 12 year-olds when I moved out of the house, way-back-when. We also brought along my cousin who hadn’t been out of a big city for two years (he just returned home from an LDS mission in Korea).
In four days we saw Zion National Park, Coral Reef Sand Dunes, the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Calf Creek in Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Arches. (yeah, it was a little fast, but I’m glad my brothers could experience a little more of this amazing landscape before heading back to Wisconsin).
Thanks for the adventures Aaron, Jordan, and Craig!
1. A reflection of the red rocks in the upper emerald pools, Zion.
2. An amazing sun-speckled spot to eat lunch… and feed a few mosquitos, Zion.
3. Coral Reef Sand Dunes, near Orderville.
4. Breathtaking sunrise, all to ourselves, at Imperial Point, Grand Canyon, AZ.
5. Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park
6. Calf Creek, Escalante National Monument
7. Camping in Escalante, with my new car Artemis (more on her to come)…
8. Four elephants, Arches National Park
9. Delicate Arch (featured on Utah license plates), Arches.
10. And a striking full moon to guide us all the way back home!
For a few years now I’ve been welcoming in the new year by greeting the sun. This year at sunrise I hiked up a mountain with a dear friend…for eight hours…in 25 below zero weather. Stunning…in many ways.
Over Christmas vacation I went on a sunrise snowshoeing hike with my dear mother.
It was dark and snowy when we headed down the winding wooded road…
And it was still dark when we began tromping through the Wisconsin woodland…
I loved how the wind blew one strip of snow up the east side of each tree trunk.
And I loved the river running along side the forest.
…and meeting up with the tree trunk that looked like a little gnome…
…and hearing the wisdom my mom gleaned from nature…
…and watching the splash of pink grow across the eastern sky…
Thanks Mom. Sure love you.
ps. a note from my mother:
“Thank you Analiesa for the best gift….time with you in nature. … I cherish watching the sun rise with you. I thank God everyday for the children I have. You teach and encourage me in may areas. … Thank you. May the year Twenty-Eleven bring us both a little more Heaven. I love you. -Mom”
Fall is here in full force (nod to the full moon on the same day as the fall equinox)! While I anxiously await jumping into my first leaf-pile of the year, I thought I’d just give a little recap of some summer highlights.
- Summer began as any well-respecting Wisconsinite might wish: with snow!
- It did a number on my tomato plants, but my harvest is still plentiful. Here’s a look into my bag after a recent harvest from my community garden, and a photo I treasure of my cantaloupe babies. They are definitely adolescents now, but are still in need of the vine.
- Early this summer I was privileged to be present when my sister was called and set-apart as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She will spend the next year-and-a-half living on a small northern island in the Philippians, serving the people and teaching them about how the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring added happiness and peace to their lives. Here’s a picture from the last time I saw her, as well as one she just sent home:
- While the summer was still green and lush, I spend as many evening after work as possible roaming through the mountains:
- Here’s a shot from one hike with my friend Kelsey- just days before she took off on a mission to Florida:
- In June, my work flew me out to San Francisco to do some training at the nation’s oldest science museum, the Exploratorium. The PIE (Playful Inventive Exploration) training was hands-down some of the most inspiring education I’ve ever received. More to come shortly on how we’ve been using that training to inspire more innovation and creativity from the middle-schoolers I work with. Here is a picture of me outside the museum, inside the workshop space, and beside some lovely sea lions down on pier 39:
- I flew on an overnight flight from CA to WI to spend a week in the great outdoors with my dear family. Here we all are under uncle Bob’s tarp. The thunderstorms helped us to get extra cozy!
- I spent Independence Day with my brothers, sister-in-law, and nieces at the Bees Stadium. Nothing like thousands of people cuddled on blankets, watching small explosions in the sky:
- I also spent some time exploring natural hotsprings:
- Discovered a new species of maple:
- (kidding about the maple….well maybe. Have you ever heard of a variegated maple?)
- Joined a group of daring souls on a search for the infamous kokanee:
- Saw some sunsets that literally brought me to my knees:
- Traveled through Utah wilderness with dear WI friends and family: