Dear Sunday Letter friends,
Holy moly, I’ve been both riled up and in a funk, feeling hopeless and helpless over many things going on in our country. I took a few days away from the craziness of social media to just be. And while nothing has changed with respect to the things that riled me up in the first place, stepping away from incessant and often hateful chatter is healthier for me than jumping into it. I feel better when I refocus on the basic things that make me happy. Deadheading spent blossoms. Escaping into an unputdownable book. Cooking a healthy meal. Visiting with friends. Watering my seedlings each morning. While I don’t trust the slippery slope I believe we are sliding down, today I choose to focus on the good.
There is always good somewhere.
I believe that deep down in my bone marrow.
I also believe, if there is something we don’t like, rather than complain, we have to work to fix the problem.
Take the recent theft at our Little Free Library, for instance. Last week, someone stole the seed exchange drawer from inside our library, along with everything in it. In the wider scheme of things, this is nothing. Who cares? It was just a wooden drawer. Yes, neighbors used it to exchange seeds and bookmarks and sometimes recipes. Kids regularly left cute trinkets inside. And, all the hundreds of geo-cachers who visited our library signed the log book, which I kept inside the drawer.
A picture of our once-upon-a-time seed drawer…
Big deal, right? Most people reading this post live too far away to utilize our library and seed exchange drawer. Maybe some of you haven’t planted seeds in decades. Or ever. Maybe you’ve not read a novel since forced to in high school English class. I mean really—with the mile-long list of grave issues we should be worrying over, who gives a flip about a seed exchange drawer?
Well, it was a small thing that made me wet hen mad. When a person is already upset, it doesn’t take much to push them over the edge.
The truth is no amount of whining or wishing or stewing will make my seed drawer magically reappear. And once something is stolen, it is rarely returned.
Sooooo, I gathered up some of my crafty materials and made myself a new seed exchange drawer using a small cardboard box and colorful scrap paper. Taking action, even small action like cutting and gluing paper, made me feel better. Once the box was decorated and labeled, I packed it with a few seed packages from my personal stash, added a bookmark , and included yet another log book for the geo-cachers. For whatever reason, people LOVE to swipe our geo-cache log book. I really don’t get why.
As of last night, the drawer was still there. But the log book was taken after only two days!
Yes, I added another, this time in the form of a cheap notepad. I can replace stolen log books all day with freebie notepads that come in the mail.
People. Do not underestimate a woman on a mission to restore something stolen.
So far, this summer has nearly been unbearable with thick humidity and sauna-like heat. Every tiny drop of water is precious to plants and animals. Something you might not realize—bees and butterflies get thirsty too.
These quirky little bee cups, added to our flower beds, capture dew and water from sprinklers, allowing pollinators to sip during the heat of the day.
Heated to 2200 degrees, they come in a variety of colors, and contain no plastic or chemicals.
They add a little whimsy to the garden. Don’t you know garden fairies appreciate them too?
Friday, John and I worked at the University of Arkansas Herbarium for several hours, learning to mount and preserve collected plant species.
The Herbarium was founded in 1875 when Professor Francis LeRoy Harvey began collecting, preserving, and cataloging specimens of vascular plants for scientific study by student and professional researchers. He collected extensively to the furthest reaches of the state, using a free pass from the railroad to reach remote areas and to send his specimens back to Fayetteville.
I love this!!
Today, the collection numbers approximately 125,000 specimens from all over the world.
The Herbarium at UofA, a fascinating yet little known place on campus, is open to students and researchers by appointment. As a master naturalist, I became aware of the work being done there several years ago. I toured the facility before Covid, during an open house. And now I get to volunteer there regularly!
Here are a couple of pictures from my efforts on Friday. Together, John and I probably worked on twelve or so 20-year-old specimens collected in Colorado. To think that people decades from now might use these plants for medical research makes me feel like I’m doing something productive.
Roots, tiny leaves, fragile hairs, dried blossoms—it’s meticulous work that can’t be rushed. And slowing down is a good thing.
Combining plants and history—I think I found my ideal activity. And, now that we understand the process, we plan to preserve some of the plants in our garden. Because how can we not?
Another 4th of July
Tomorrow marks the 246th anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. If you’ve not read it lately (or never read it), click HERE for the transcript from the National Archives.
Recently, I fell into a nostalgic hole of yesteryear and discovered these historic Independence Day photos. Old black and white photos lay out the past so clearly, capturing not only what was once there but what has been lost. They also provide a reminder of how far we have come.
I thought you might enjoy seeing them.
Aren’t these photos incredible?
Things Momma Says:
I had an old spurt when I turned 77.
Stay cool everyone. Focus on the good while working to change the bad. Maybe enjoy some ice cream this weekend, but don’t eat it outside. It’s hot as blue blazes.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.