5 min read

Perennial Watch 2023

On the earliest perennials, the Fool, and easy listening for younger millennials.
Seven purple crocuses blooming around the base of a tree, amid fallen branches and old leaves.

Most days of the week, at midday, I walk our rescue hound Juno around the neighborhood for 30–50 minutes. This time of year, our walks come with an additional task: perennial watch.

Some are showier and more recognizable than others, so a patient and curious eye is key — especially in our yard, where a thick layer of last fall's leaves and the winter's detritus still cover the garden beds. Leave it in place, friends! The insects and birds will thank you! (They won't, actually, but we need them all the same.)

Over the past two weeks, the earliest bulbs to break the earth have begun to blossom. The snowdrops, a symbol of Imbolc and a sure sight of spring, woke up well after the cross-quarter day in the second and third weeks of March. Early too was the winter aconite, an introduced species that is clearly working on a different seasonal clock than native perennials.

The crocuses came next, blooming first on the east side of the neighborhood and seemingly moving west with the sun; I've seen shades of purple, yellow, and white. The ones in our front garden have been shy but present nonetheless.

I am waiting eagerly for the daffodil blooms. Whoever lived here before us clearly loved them — there are bulbs bursting all over our front and back yards, and they make the view from the kitchen window cottagey and quaint for the few weeks they grace us with their triumphant yellows.

The chartreuse fingers of daylilies are coming up in garden beds on every block, and along our back yard fence as well. Last year, during a warmer month, I accidentally cropped them with a weed wacker and they regrettably never came back — I'm looking forward to the opportunity to try again.

Also early to rise this year has been garlic mustard, that invasive trickster, sour-smelling and stubborn as a hound dog on muddy spring walk. I clocked hours last spring pulling garlic mustard in our yard alone. It likes the edge of the woods and the chain link fence, where it thrives in the shade of the neighbor's lilac bushes and our ragtag suburban woods. I've already gotten started pulling and burning it for the new season, and though I suspect I will never fully eradicate it from the yard, I'll keep pulling it up wherever I see it.

A gloved hand holding a garlic mustard plant at the root.
I haven't tried making pesto with it, although I hear Alexis Nikole Nelson recommends it, and I trust her absolutely.

It's still snowing intermittently, which is usual this time of year, but it's a sword in my heart every time. As much peace as I've made with Great Lakes winters, there is no relief like the final frost. We always get a good snow in April, and the frost won't abate until mid-May to be safe. Here, daffodil season is also snow-covered daffodil season. May the petals persist! May the blooms bloom regardless!

In the Tarotsphere

Happy belated April Fools' Day! Although the Fool corresponds to the sign of elemental air in the Golden Dawn tradition and to Aquarius in others, I think of them as an Aries baby through and through.

Day one, starting out the journey with verve and style, confident and undeterred despite a lack of experience. In my practice, the Fool is a reminder to be a novice and have some fun while I'm at it. Expertise takes a lifetime of hard work — relish in the ease and naiveté of the journey's earliest days.

A black-and-white tarot card of a jackalope prancing through rosebushes.

I especially love the Fool in Eliza Kingsbury's Star String Tarot Deck which is represented by a juvenile jackalope prancing through rosebushes. My cat Goose gifted me this deck for Christmas, which is to say that I gifted myself this deck for Christmas and put Goose's name on the package. It's expressive, charming, and a deviation from the Rider Waite Smith canon (mostly), all of which I appreciate.

From the Archives

Lately I listen to a lot of what I like to call "Easy Listening for Younger Millennials," which is basically singer-songwriter music featuring spare production, folk or pop tendencies, and poetic or confessional lyrics. One such artist is Lomelda, whose record M for Empathy I reviewed back in 2019. This sound has been a comforting companion in these tender, tentative weeks of early spring — check out the record and my review below.

Lomelda - “M For Empathy” | Album Review — POST-TRASH
Over the course of just sixteen minutes, singer-songwriter Hannah Read strums her way through a series of vignettes that delve thoroughly and unflinchingly into the heart of what it means to feel for another. Each track is brief yet perfectly measured, quiet yet self-assured, delicate yet unyielding

That's all for now! Thanks, as always, for your time and attention to my writing. Consistency has never been my strong suit, so I am proud to have published three newsletters over the past four weeks, and even prouder to be building a regular writing practice that serves me both creatively and intellectually. 💛

Wishing you joyful foolishness and flowers on every block!