BENEATH THE SNOW LIES THE ROSE
— Prospect Heights, IL — Jan 19, 2007 —
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THE HOT POTATO
Serving Up a Weekly Helping of
Sustainable & Organic Gardening, Food, Health, and Community
by Adam Brockman & Aireen Joven, January 2007, Article #2
THIS WEEK’S DISH:
BENEATH THE SNOW LIES THE ROSE
“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid
SUNFLOWERS greet visitors next to Wellspring’s retreat, conference center, which has a straw bale-constructed addition seen in the background.
IMAGINE a majestic garden in August. Lush flowery jewels of all colors blooming across the field. Green bushy tree tops play in a dancing, unpredictable breeze. The soil under your feet is soft, warm, and singing with life – billions of clever spiders, hungry earthworms, fuzzy caterpillars, bugs that eat your garden’s plants, even more bugs that eat the bugs that eat your garden’s plants, and strange bright bugs you may never have a name for…
…and let us never forget the nearly invisible nutrient-giving microbial organisms teeming with life in the topsoil who are responsible for the health of your plants and consequently the health of your body, the blessed infinite microbial life to whom you have given a healthy home rich in organic matter and free of chemicals…
…now quickly, notice the field mice that dash for the woods, run your hands across the canopy of leaves, flowers, and fruit of the bean patch planted with your own hands, reaching for the sun as baby bunnies hide underneath the canopy nibling their piece of the pie, say hello to the busy bees dreaming of honey in a perfectly yellow sunflower, and at sunset, the celebrities of the garden make an appearance, a mother doe and her two young deer gracefully slip into the lettuce patch and all feel nourished with the summer’s bounty…
…meanwhile, far above a great blue heron spirals down to sit upon her watery throne, and the full court is present of course – untamed dragonflies passing through the kingdom as their iridescent wings reflect flashes of sunset gold, the trilling tree frogs who sing pure love all night long, a shy but regal family of ducks who ceremoniously pay a visit to your freshly dug vegetable bed, slippery gray fish undisturbed under the pond’s blanket of algae, and what would the summer be without late bloomer baby birds safely nested in the bushes, upon a corner of the tool shed, and in the heron’s court among the happy cattails…
…then when the children find them, the cattail heads full of seeds turn into waves of white fluff as you watch them leave your outstretched hand and float across the universe to plant themselves beside another pond in someone else’s garden waiting to become the next laugh, joy, or miracle discovered.
SUMMER HOLLYHOCKS bloom over six feet tall gracing Wellspring’s garden in late July.
R.S.V.P. MOTHER EARTH
Ah, summer. You might be thinking, what a terrific fantasy. But this picturesque scene of nature painted above was a real invitation every day on the farm where we lived and worked last year. This invitation, in fact, is open to all of us every day. On the one hand, it is a literal invitation, because where we worked, Wellspring hosts a very affordable, comfortable, and year round bed, breakfast, hostel, and conference & retreat center in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine just half an hour north of Milwaukee and 1 and 1/2 hours from the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Resting on over 30 acres of meadow, lawn, a walking trail along the Milwaukee River, woods, a small orchard, and several acres in fruit and vegetables for their weekly food subscription Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organic farm, Wellspring is also a nonprofit whose mission is to teach harmony with ourselves and the earth. If you might like to visit, you can go to www.wellspringinc.org or call Mary Ann Ihm at 262-675-6755 for more info.
On the other hand, the summer garden above represents the never ending invitation from Mother Earth to get out of the fast lane. You know that saying – it’s not the destination, it’s the journey? Well, it’s finally winter now, and the snow feels good blanketing the summer’s garden at rest. The winter moonlight moving through the black trees and falling onto the glittering snowscape is in many ways more comforting than being able to wear a tee shirt and sandals in December while Oprah interviews Al Gore about global warming and climate change (a topic The Hot Potato would like to put on the menu for a future article).
We can still accept nature’s invitation in the middle of winter. Several gardens and nature preserves have open invitations with fun attractions year round. Here are a few in the Chicago area:
The Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, Illinois, www.chicagobotanic.org.
Tropical rain forest greenhouses, watercolor paintings, images of great gardens of the world, and family classes like Pizza Garden, Bathroom Botanicals, Dinosaur Plants
The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Lincoln Ave, Lisle, IL, www.mortonarb.org
Children’s garden winter walks, free guided walks, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and a one acre maze garden with living hedges and a12-foot high lookout platform built around a 60-foot tall Sycamore tree.
The Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL, www.garfield-conservatory.org
Chocolate Fest, winter tree ID walk, free weekend plant clinic, amazing and grand greenhouses including the Children’s Garden, Desert House, Horticultural Hall, and Sweet House which includes sugar cane, figs, pineapples, coconuts, cinnamon, chewing gum, mangos, guavas, vanilla and banana plants!
The Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL, www.naturemuseum.org
Green garden model including interactive rooftop gardens, water conservation, and solar panels, the secret world of animal homes, a real butterfly habitat haven, and “Mysteries of the Marsh. about Illinois’ wetlands that are home to nearly two-thirds of Illinois’ endangered and threatened species.
LOOKING FOR SNOW ANGELS
The last time we had a snowball fight was on the farm in March of last year, just before the last snow of the year melted away. When was the last time you made a snow angel, snow man, or snow ball and threw it at somebody? Without driving anywhere, we can make a date with nature close to home, like on a bundled stroll down to the local lake, park, or sledding slope. Even right outside your home might be the perfect spot to breathe in the feeling of winter and store it away until we are back in the heat of a majestic garden in August.
Remember too in the winter, it’s important to get your daily dose of sunshine. The sunshine converts into Vitamin D in your body that aids in the absorption of calcium. You can open your curtains during the day to let the light and warmth in, and then close the curtains at night to keep the cold out. If the winter blues are getting to you, you can always curl up with a hot potato, a warm cup of chamomile tea, and Bette Midler’s song “The Rose” playing softly as she sings to remind us:
When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun’s love
in the spring
becomes the rose