Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Our pet icicle is back, hanging from the eave outside the kitchen window. Each winter the icicle returns, sure as a migratory bird. While the worst of winter’s cold may be behind us now, there's a foot of new snow on the ground and plenty of Minnesota winter left to go around.

I love winter. Really, I do. But I’ve also begun to buy those little pots of flowers that show up in the grocery store around this time of year, purple hyacinths and red and yellow primroses. They won’t last – in their own way they are as ephemeral as the spring wildflowers that will blossom and disappear a few days later: pasque flowers, Dutchmen’s breeches, shooting stars, trout lilies, spring beauties, Virginia bluebells, small white ladyslippers, and my favorite one to say, bastard toadflax. While they last, though, the potted flowers and the wild ones make me glad.

This is also the time of year I usually have to drag myself to writing by the scruff of my neck. So I’m doing some ephemeral writing instead, writing that appears on the paper and then goes dormant again. Not drafts, not even practice writing per se (and those of you who know me know I believe all writing is practice). Maybe not even writing. Maybe just being at play in a field of words. Whatever you call it, this writing makes me glad.

Try writing off task today, and every day, for a few moments, just the joy of putting words down on paper.

And for those of you who are winter-locked and hungry for springtime, here’s a photo of some of last year’s ephemeral shooting stars to look forward to come spring.


  1. Will now be dividing my life between Before and After Phyllis started blogging.

  2. Here in Montana we've had snow in June for the past two years. Spring feels far off but how we appreciate those first brave green shoots when they finally arrive. Thank you, Phyllis.

  3. I always call those flowers Dodecahedrons instead of their actual name (Dodecatheon!). They're supposed to grow in Missouri, but I haven't run across any yet. I'm still waiting for the elm tassels and the maple flowers over here, which start showing up in March. And then the chickweed and henbit starts growing all over, and then it's time to start pulling weeds again. But in early spring, it's not so bad. Also, you can eat the chickweed.

  4. Bastard Toadflax? Will we see some of that on our next prairie walk? Does it have warts, or is it some poor illegitimate foundling? I'm going to look it up now.