I think I like wildflowers best. They just grow wherever they want. No one has to plant them. And then their seeds blow in the wind and they find a new place to grow. ~Rebecca Donovan
Wildflowers are the loveliest of all because they grow in uncultivated soil, in those hard, rugged places where no one expects them to flourish. ~Micheline Ryckman
It’s my favorite time of the year: seed-starting time.
It’s a hazy, dreamy time of quaint seed packets and glossy photographs. It’s all possibilities and promise – unencumbered by reality.
And the reality is harsh. We live in St. Louis, where winters are real winters – complete with snow and ice and polar vortexes.
Summers, on the other hand, rival the Florida tropics. Drippingly humid days with natural temps exceeding 100ºF will take your breath away.
That’s a tricky combo for a gardener. Plants that do well in tropical climates tend not to thrive in places with harsh winters.
Even so, I don’t coddle my plants. You could call my gardening style “Darwin’s Cottage Garden.”
I will give them a good head start. But then, they’re on their own.
Of course I will water them on occasion. I will mulch them thickly. I will pull off the bugs that I see, but nobody gets sprayed.
Everyone gets pep talks.
And over the years, I’ve learned what plants thrive in that environment and what plants … don’t.
And I’ve decided something a bit controversial in gardening circles.
I like weeds.
They are really just extremely resilient – and wild – flowers.
One gardener’s noxious weed is another’s landscaper’s “ground cover,” prized for its hardiness and its spreading habit (and often sold for $6.99 per flat at your local big box gardening store).
Their ingenuity impresses me.
Besides being fast to spread, weeds have all kinds of amazing ways to prosper. Some tunnel far underground with spectacular runners that can burrow under – and into – cement, coming up in the darnedest places. One particularly adventurous sort emerged in my mother’s basement by way of her stone foundation.
Others have prickly pods with thousands of seeds that spread into the wind on parachutes of fluff. (These, in particular, are popular with five-year-olds.)
Still others can climb up higher and faster than you can pull them down, wrapping themselves around shrubs and other vines.
That’s the thing about weeds.
They’re hard to manage.
They don’t follow the rules.
They’re unruly, a little unkempt, and maybe their flowers aren’t as delicate as the hothouse varieties you have to coax along.
But darn, do they ever excel at surviving.
Just like us.
We’ve been through a lot. Boiling heat. Freezing temperatures. Storms, and droughts, and a lot of people hacking away at our roots.
Every time … we’ve come back.
Actually, we haven’t just come back.
We’ve overtaken entire communities – reaching out into areas and districts that have lain fallow for decades. We’re sprouting up all over the country, surprising the “experts” who lack our weed-like resourcefulness and resolve.
And now, as the ground warms, we’re seeing more and more wild and weedy sorts like ourselves, emerging from the winter, faces raised to the sunshine.
Ready to get growing.
Ready to join our unruly, intrusive, eager, insistent lot.
Welcome to another spring, fellow wild flowers.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of February 7, 2023
No doubt you’ve heard about the book censorship happening throughout the country.
Here are a few great resources:
For a limited time, Brooklyn is opening up its digital catalogue to teens/young adults aged 13-21. They can apply for a free BPL eCard, providing access to the full eBook collection as well as learning databases. Go here to learn more. https://www.bklynlibrary.org/books-unbanned To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also check out ROOTS (Un)Banned, a series of stories on book banning for Black History Month: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/unbothered-unbanned
Consider donating to https://www.inpurposeea.com/banned-book-program, which provides banned books free of charge to as many qualified applicants as possible each month. Each month three new books are selected; one elementary-aged, one middle-grade, and one high-school. Donations go directly to costs of books and shipping.
Having trouble figuring out what’s going on re: book censorship in your state? There are a lot of moving parts. This spreadsheet is an excellent resource – with information updated as of February 6. It includes live bills, their sponsors, current status and more; it also has a tab for executive orders and state policies. Click HERE to view.
GenZ Does it Again!
Ron Desantis announced that Florida will not teach AP African American Studies due to it “lacking educational value.” So the College Board watered down the curriculum on the first day of Black History Month.
GenZ For Change (https://genzforchange.org/) decided it’s time fight back. And they used their exceptional understanding of bots and AI to do so. (Education has a purpose!)
Their tool, https://teachthetruth.co/ , autogenerates a message to send to the College Board by email or contact form. But here’s the thing: this isn’t a uniform mass email. Each response is unique. As their tool notes: “Now let’s say, hypothetically, you want to send more randomized emails. Each time you refresh the page, you’ll get a new email template. I promise you won’t get the same result; there’s over a septillion combinations.”
Ahhh. You have to love those meddling kids!
Special Election in VA
Over the weekend I got a few more emails from Tony the Democrat – this time about a special congressional election in VA.
Democrat Jennifer McClellan is running to fill the vacancy created when Congressman Donald McEachin succumbed to colon cancer late November. If McClellan wins, she will become the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress.
You can read more about this opportunity in an NPR story which also has an audio link here.
We have a targeted list of Democratic voters that the campaign selected for us. Early voting is underway. The election is on the 21st which means you have plenty of time to pitch in 5 or 10 of your fully-handwritten election reminders.
Join thousands of fellow post-carders and write for Jennifer. Sign up for addresses here:
- Text HELLO to (484) 275-2229 or
- CLICK HERE for SLACK to message Abby on Slack Messenger or
- CLICK HERE for EMAIL to our volunteer team or write to Request@AbbyAddresses.org
WHEW! GO, YOU!
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.
P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.
P.P.S: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.