Mother Nature has been giving us a rude little scare the past couple of mornings by flirting with freezing temperatures here in northwest Arkansas. This isn’t surprising; she does this every spring around this time. And because of this, we hold off on planting certain flowers and seedlings outside (no matter how tempting it might be).
This last cold snap is called blackberry winter because it typically coincides with the blooming of blackberries. I’ve never grown blackberries, but I do have blossoms on my strawberries. Strawberries, blackberries—I bet they bloom at the same time.
Continuing on with last week’s exciting news…
We Have Monarch Caterpillars!
Oh you know it, during the past week I have been inspecting my milkweed daily for signs of monarch caterpillars. Eggs typically hatch within 7-10 days. And sure enough, it happened right on schedule.
I saw three early signs of activity before I ever saw a caterpillar:
- Disappearing eggs. Most of those eggs I photographed last week were suddenly gone from the milkweed sprouts. This means one thing—the eggs hatched but the caterpillars were still too teeny tiny for me to see.
- Next, when the tips of my milkweed began to look holey and munched on, I knew we were in monarch business.
- Finally, I began to see specs of frass on the leaves. Frass is the official word for monarch caterpillar poop. When the monarchs are tiny, the frass is smaller than specks of black pepper. As the monarchs grow, the frass becomes more like whole peppercorns.
This larva stage of the monarch life will last 10-14 days. Within this stage the caterpillars go through 5 instar phases, meaning their skin will molt and new skin will grow. This time next week, these monarchs will be much larger.
I’ll keep you posted, of course.
My Thoughts on Publishing
You may not care one iota about what I’m about to say, but I suspect a few of you might be interested. The fact is I am frequently asked about publishing. Friends, acquaintances, maybe a reader I met at an event, even folks I’ve never met ask to ‘pick my brain’ about the process of publishing.
How do I go about it?
What should I do?
What did you do to get published?
Y’all, these are HUGE questions without quick answers.
I can’t always devote one-on-one time to those seeking my advice. But because I do want to help those who ask, I compiled my thoughts in one special place on my blog. I’ve included my favorite go-to sources from the people and businesses I consider to be experts. And I hope this information proves useful to those seeking publication.
Click HERE to ‘pick my brain’ and feel free to share with anyone who may be looking for guidance in publishing.
Cornbread on the Stove
Certain foods, like a pot of beans or homemade vegetable soup, would be woefully incomplete without a wedge of freshly baked cornbread. Don’t you agree?
I made a pan of cornbread the other day, John and I ate some, and I wrapped it in foil and left it on the stove. Then, every time I walked through the kitchen that day I thought about being back home on the farm. Why? Because there is nothing like cornbread in a foil-covered iron skillet left out on the stove to remind me of my childhood.
Cornbread was Daddy’s favorite meal accompaniment, no matter what was on the plate for supper. Because of this, Momma made cornbread every day or two, always leaving it out on the stove until time to make another batch. A pan of cornbread on the stove served another purpose Momma probably deemed essential to her sanity. It slowed my sister and me down as we ran through the house. We couldn’t race past that iron skillet without skidding to a stop, reaching underneath the foil, and pinching off a bite.
Cornbread was the best sort of sustenance, especially while building Barbie houses in the living room or plotting the construction of a makeshift roller coaster in our backyard. (Don’t ask.)
Is there something simple like a pan of cornbread that instantly takes you back to your childhood?
By the way, my mother makes the very best cornbread, AND the iron skillet above was my Nana’s.
What’s Growing + Blooming?
It’s such a fun time to be a gardener and nature lover. Every day there’s something new to see, a just opened blossom or a tender shoot pushing up from the soil. Our schip laurels still look pretty awful, although green is sprouting from branches. I’m sure our neighbors are shaking their heads and wondering about our decision to leave them for now.
We still have faith they will make a comeback. In the meantime, these other lovelies provide a nice distraction.
Things Momma Says:
Me: I need a quote for my Sunday Letter.
Momma: I’ve not nothing.
Some weeks are like that…
I hope you enjoyed today’s Sunday Letter. Now, go whip up a pan of cornbread and enjoy this blackberry winter day.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.