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May 2024 - sakipakawpisim (Leaves Appearing Moon)

Welcome to the second blog post of my journey through the 13 Grandmother Moon course! Here is what the land looks like this month.

Spring is one of my favorite times of year. I feel excited about going outside with less bulky clothing and more opportunities to be warmed by the sun. All around me, life is stirring; my garden at home is already planted. I can't wait to visit my special place in the Mill Creek Ravine and explore the questions guiding my place study: What is being communicated?, How I am perceiving it?, How do I interpret what is being communicated?, and How I can express what I am learning?

As I walk towards the creek bed I am aware of so many things being communicated to me. The birds in the trees and in the air are chirping and singing their delight at the warmer days and greater abundance of food. Though the air is chilly and humid, when the sun escapes the clouds I feel its warmth on my face. I can hear the gurgling and rush of water as it flows through the creek. I smell sap, green life, flower blossoms, and the rich earthy aroma that I know means I have reached my special place. Most of all, I see the emergence of all kinds of greenery: grass, tree leaves, and the buds of plant life including lilacs, apple blossoms, and something white that could be either Nannyberry or Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry. I am struck by how much I do not know about the world around me, and curious about the idea that I consider these plants and lifeforms my dear friends but I do not know most of their names.

What is being communicated to me is an immense sense of power, growth, resilience, and hope. It is uplifting and energizing to witness this abundancy of life breaking through the dormancy of winter. I use all of my senses to perceive what is being communicated in this nature space: smell, sight, hearing, and touch. There is a different sense or way of perceiving that is very active for me right now; I don't know its name but it's something spiritual, something I can feel in my chest, in my gut, and in my mind. It reminds me of the Japanese concept of forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku. I am sure that there is an Indigenous name for this sense of spirit that is connecting me to the land, and make a mental note to ask when I get the chance.

I am so relieved to see and hear an abundance of water rushing through the little creek. There have already been forest fires in Alberta, and growing alarm over the potential drought. We have had a lot of rain in the last few days, and the ravine looks safer, stronger, and more familiar with a spring torrent rather than a moody, torpid current moving through it. I find it impossible to disconnect my personal thoughts and feelings from what is being communicated in this space. There is a place of pain and deep hurt affecting me right now, along with serious concern and worry for more than one significant family member. Though being here and perceiving the space does not erase those feelings, I feel the heaviness lift. The emerging leaves remind me that seasons turn, and that after hard times a release can follow, a change and a reemergence of growth, hope, and potential.

I interpret what is being communicated as a message of strength, resilience, and hope. The change of the seasons is powerful, steady, and consistent. Even though each season and moon can look a little different, the core pulse of energy and rhythm remains the same. I am reassured and warmed to remember that even within the hustle and bustle of life, even in the face of extreme challenges in the lives of some of my family members, nature is unaffected.

I have been thinking about this moon's winter count symbol for a while. I want to capture the bright loveliness of a dandelion, the way that grass emerges from the soil, and the silly, chaotic, haphazard way that leaves sometimes first appear: most branches have none, but there a small clusters of leaves on others. Below is the set of winter count symbols I have created for this moon. Though I am reluctant to choose only one, if pressed I would say that the dandelion best represents what is being communicated to me, and how I perceive and interpret it.

I love dandelions. Their bright pop of color and persistent way of emerging wherever they want brings me great joy at this time of year. Dandelions remind me of my own childhood, and of the time when my children were very young. I was too busy to wage a war against the yellow flowers that many consider weeds, and didn't want to anyway; why would I remove such a strong life force and positive symbol of spring? Dandelions have been used for centuries as a food and medicine source by many. Their roots can be roasted and ground up to make a coffee-like beverage. Their leaves can be a salad green, and their petals can be added to many baked goods. Dandelions are a source of many nutrients, are an environmental detoxifier, and are one of the first emerging supports for pollinators.

3 Ways to use Dandelions with Children

1 - Dandelion Drawing

One of my favorite ways to engage children in creative outdoor springtime activities is by drawing with dandelions. It requires no preparation, is fast and easy, and offers a fun way to learn about the natural world. Before you go outside, gather a set of clipboards and white paper (I adore my clipboards, I have one for each child and when I ran my day home we used them all the time!). Once outside, each child chooses the best dandelion - the brightest, fattest, most yellow flower they can find. Then, you draw! The bright colors stay vibrant for a short time before they start to fade, and I like that too; some things do not endure but are best appreciated in the moment.

2 - Dandelion Syrup

Every child I have ever met loves sweet things, and dandelion flowers offer an opportunity to create a special spring sweetener from the land. Kristina Seleshanko, author of the The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook, includes this recipe within my favorite dandelion cookbook. We use it on toast, muffins, and more!

3 - Baking with Dandelions

Though I have learned that most children do not appreciate the bitterness of dandelion leaves, they do enjoy baking with the flavorful petals. The cookbook mentions many recipes for muffins, breads, and more. When we go outside in spring, I have a set of baskets for the children. I invite the children to gather dandelion flowers with me, and we fill a big bowl together (remember to only forage in areas free from pesticides and dogs!). Then, as the children play, I supervise them while rolling the flowers to press out the yellow petals. When we have enough (this takes longer than you think) we use the petals as directed in the recipe.

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