Dandelions and Violets

The last few weeks have been filled with much excitement. In addition to finalizing travel plans for my upcoming global adventures, I turned 42, and I heard that my colleagues voted to promote me to associate professor with tenure in recognition of my scholarship, teaching, and service. On top of all of this good news, the winter finally melted away and spring emerged. In between all of the celebrating there has been the happy blooms of the tulips, anemones, and other bulbs I planted last fall, as well as the satisfaction of transforming a dream garden into a real one. I’ve even had the joyous relief of discovering that many of the medicinal plants I planted last summer have survived the long and brutal winter. And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any more beautiful, our lawn exploded with bright yellow dandelions and sweet purple violets.

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Our lawn is a golden oasis for pollinators in the midst of a desert of lush, green lawns. 

All of this goodness has been made all the more wonderful because I’ve been able to share it with friends. From emoji-filled texts, to parties that last much later than our usual bedtimes, to rituals honoring the full moon and Beltane, various circles of friends have brought joy, laughter, and gratitude to my heart again and again. One friend — the mother of one of my son’s friends yet we seldom get to see each other — left me a giant potted begonia on my back porch. She has been known to drop off soup or homemade baked goods on my worst fibro days. Another friendly presence, my grandmother, called last night to congratulate me and hear about my good news. I enjoyed hearing her talk about how she feels, at 87, that she is more herself than she has ever been. Other friends and kin have sent messages, gifts, and shared hugs. Life with friends such as these truly is good.

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I love this photo of Cheryl because it captures her laughing while she does something she loves: talk interior design. 

My friend, Cheryl, is one of the amazing women in my magical circle of friends. She lives about 5 hours away, and for the first couple of years I lived in Iowa, we would meet half way for a day of writing and shopping (mostly shopping). For my 40th birthday, she and her family drove all the way here to surprise me. Since my chronic pain issues have made lengthy drives difficult, Cheryl now makes a point of getting here for a visit once or twice a year. She was here in January. I was in the midst of a terrible weather-induced fibro flare. She spent the weekend cooking for my family. We didn’t want her to leave. This past weekend she came back for my 42nd. She’s launching a new business (check out Empowered Interiors!), so we spent a lot of time imagining her future. I’m so excited for her!

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Our morning harvest. 

We also did some spring wildcrafting. Since the yard was, as I mentioned, filled with dandelions and violets, we harvested them. I put Cheryl to work on the violets while I gathered the dandelions. Then we let them dry in the sun before starting to infuse them in sunflower oil via the crockpot. After a day of crockpot simmering, I moved the cooled oil to a mason jar. I also made a brandy-based tincture of the dandelions. Both jars are now sitting on my kitchen windowsill to infuse in the sun. Eventually I will strain them.

I plan to use the dandelion-violet oil to make a skin salve. The dandelion tincture I will save for medicinal needs. And every time I use them, I will think of my wonderful circle of friends and this springtime of celebration.

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Soaking in the sun on the windowsill. 

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