I just listened to all the words in Miley Cyrus’ song Flowers and sure enough. You can buy yourself flowers, but you can also buy bushes and trees. You can plant yourself a garden and put paths through it that will allow you to graze as you walk along. The shade will comfort you on sunny days and the colors will change through the season and all that blooms will invite the pollinators and sustenance to the migrant butterflies. The migrants who generally fly above the mess of our lives, but visit our birdbaths and milkweed as welcomed guests we view out the side window and wish we had planted more.
I remember many times seeing butterfly wings mashed against the grill of my car. Then I so clearly remember a fall day driving Highway 2 with the trucks in both lanes, but ABOVE them were the monarchs. They had learned to go OVER the roads.
Down the lane to my home, are the loblolly pine trees I planted over 40 years ago. Some fall evenings in the past I could walk by and look up and on the pine needles were hundreds of Monarchs resting for the night on their journey south. It was an honor to know there was a safe haven for them and they could find it here. As times have continued to change, their resting spots may also be diminished, such as the pine bark beetle taking out one by one the pine tree hotels on my very lane.
So, when you are thinking about buying yourself flowers, think about who else you can provide joy and refuge. Get a Gurney catalog, or go on-line for Baker Creek Rare Seeds. Get seeds and plants ready to put in the ground and begin seeing who comes to visit. The little winged ones, or your neighbors who had never tried a freshly grown raspberry or smelled the Mock Orange.
Let’s find ways to grow this year, not just in the way we might think by stretching our knowledge, but let’s also actually grow stuff.
Wait, you don’t really have to get out the seed catalog to acquire plants. You don’t have to buy them. There are other ways. You can trade, or bring your own hand tool and dig up starts of native forbs or grasses, even trees this time of year are easy to dig and they will delight in finding new homes with you. Lots of people used to do this kind of thing. We shared. We thinned out our iris and passed on the bulbs. Our grandmother’s favorites become the beauty blooming next spring in your neighbor’s fence line.
Another way is to bring your nippers and snip off a little branch and simply stick it in the ground and your forsythia and the fire-in-the-bush will signal spring for the next generations.
To have the best luck have our soil checked to see if it is ready for all you are about to bring home. The county OSU Extension office can send your soil to be analyzed (small fee is charged) and you will receive a prescription on how to improve it for the best garden season you have ever had. But you might also want to get DEQ to analyze it for lead (no charge) since we know it was common for generations before us to bring chat for driveways and fill in low areas around our homes, not understanding that material could contain dangerous levels of lead. (You knew I would have to bring up something like this, right?) But why go to the trouble of planting all those delicious fruits and vegetables and then always wonder if you are taking a dose of poison with every bite? So just check the soil first! (800-522-0206)
Then let’s start imaging the world you would like to have and let’s start planting it.
While I was thinking about writing about this, I read about another environmental justice organization like LEAD Agency, and they think about planting people.
If your vision is for a year, plant wheat. If your vision is for ten years, plant trees. If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people. ~ Chinese Proverb
Aren’t we doing that? Aren’t we sharing ideas, which is sort of like planting seeds with people we may have never met, but with these new ideas, we are sowing seeds and sort of growing together? That organization then believes they can then grow justice. I think we have done that over the last year and a half, as we pushed FERC, with all your postcards and letters, and grown justice for us.
Now let’s prepare the ground and have a feast this fall! But for now, buy yourself flowers.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim