Last week, after another fresh snowfall (although we’re getting nothing like the East Coast), I noticed how the skeletons of last summer’s Queen Anne’s Lace flowers held cups of fluffy white snow.

It was my Grandma Ruth who first showed them to me and told me their name. I was probably seven years old and on one of my annual summer visits with her, all by my big-girl self. She lived on Wonderland Road and the mall was just down the road from her. When I was a kid, there was a vacant lot we crossed on our way there, and that’s where all the Queen Anne’s Lace was.

I thought it was the most beautiful flower I had ever seen.

I stopped seeing its beauty as a teenager, when the flower just was’t showy enough. The petals were so tiny and pale and there was so much space between them. And I was into Doc Martens, not lace! As a young adult, I developed a passion for native plant gardening and Queen Anne’s Lace went even lower in my esteem: it’s not native.

But the other day, holding its cup of white, its beauty was renewed for me.

When I was 21, I dated a man who was 38. He seemed like such a grown-up to me. For some reason I thought of him today and realized with a shock that I am now the age he was when he dated me. I hate those kinds of shocks. I don’t feel grown-up at all. Or maybe it’s that I don’t want to.

But there are benefits to growing older. My idealism is as strong as ever, but nothing is ever simple for me anymore. Some details are not as important as they once were. There are nuances and complexities so that my world is all grey. (Some days I can’t even decide what’s for dinner because the pros and cons of the options are so hard to weigh out.) Except when things like that Queen Anne’s Lace holds something so fresh and pure white, and I think of my Grandma Ruth and the smell of that hot vacant lot in summer and the warmth of her constant love for me.

Two nights ago I gave my artist talk… my first one ever, really. I mean, I’ve spoken for a few minutes at other exhibitions but this one was half an hour, properly prepared and with slides and everything. I was terrified for most of the week before, when I let myself think about it. But I think it went well… I was way less nervous than I expected, the audience was kind and they asked lots of good questions after.

Then I got home and after the rush of dinner and herding kids into bed, I finally sat down on the couch. For the first time since September I have no particular deadlines for projects. I have a quilt I’m working on for Eldest and I want to sew some other things for the kids, but I don’t feel any pressure beyond a vague anxiety from this relatively open schedule.

I made a few pictures last fall involving medicinal plants… I was thinking about how some herbalists believe that medicinal plants grow where they’re most needed. So perhaps dandelions, which are known for their detoxifying properties, proliferate in urban and suburban areas because we need some help managing the toxins.

This is goldenrod… its latin genus name means “to make whole.”

Comfrey salve

Apparently Queen Anne’s Lace is also a cleansing agent. I just looked it up now and what I had never noticed is that it has a red flower in its middle, said to symbolize the blood from a prick of Queen Anne’s finger.

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