Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Event Report: Earth Day

Today my_partner_doug and I went to the Earth Day celebration at Douglas-Hart Nature Center.  The weather was much the same as last year -- cool and damp, though it had mostly stopped raining by the time we arrived. 

The plant swap was definitely a bigger success this year.  Announcing it in advance helped; we found out about it a month or two ago.  That was early enough for some folks to start extra seeds and for me to dig up plenty of volunteer plants.  We passed around word to people we know so there were more participants too.  I brought mint, chocolate mint, chives, lemon balm, wild strawberries, wild violets, purple coneflower, and yellow coneflower.  Oscar brought a bunch of different peppers and tomatoes, borage, sorrel, and some other stuff.  Angie had stonecrop, wild garlic, peppermint, black-eyed susan, and more.  Stuff that was already there when I put my plants out included red trillium (wow!), spiderwort, and other wildflowers. 

I'm hoping that this activity will continue to grow.  It's a really good way to share plants that spread or seed themselves readily the way some of our native wildflowers do.  (The coneflowers, for instance, I dug out of our yard downwind of the wildflower garden.)  We also bought some prairie plants from the sale table indoors: liatris, wild petunia, penstemon, etc.  I have one nice penstemon already and I remember the wild petunia very fondly from last year.

Another fun activity was the music/literature one.  There were two sessions, one at 10 AM and one at noon.  We participated in the noon one, with my_partner_doug reading some of my poems: "The Wolves of Yellowstone," "Prairie Dreams," "WaterSounds," "Night Mending," and "Inconsiderate Drivers."  Most of those were from my book From Nature's Patient Hands: A Collection of Poetry, a copy of which is in the center's reading library.  I enjoy using nature poetry to encourage people to appreciate the world around us and the fun things that can be done with language.  my_partner_doug got compliments on his performance, yay!  Plus everyone was cool with us teaming up, rather than hassling me for not reading my own work, which is really nice and a definite point in favor of doing this again. 

We wove the poetry in with two other performers.  Elizabeth S. Halbe brought her guitar and sang folk songs -- a frisky one about an otter's view of the world, a devastatingly hilarious condemnation of the BP oil slick, and Montessori school song about the importance of not running over manatees with motorboats.  I really like nature-oriented folk songs and it's not the biggest genre.  There are a few in environmental activism, some in Paganism, a handful scattered around historic and modern folk scenes but you rarely hear a batch of them performed together.  So that was cool.  Rebakah Hooverton did a wonderful performance that involved reciting a poem in time to music ... which was played on four clay flowerpots.  Yes, really.  That's what the music was originally commissioned for, flowerpots.  The poem was from ancient Greece, honoring the Earth as provider; and the sheet music had the words in Greek, German, and English.  (This performance was in English but she can do the German too.  You-all know me and my love for languages.)  I was reminded of references to ceramic percussion instruments from ... Macedonia, I think it was. 

Then after the performance we talked it over together and shared ideas for what other things might be done in the future.  This is at least the third cultural activity the center has hosted -- there was one similar to this at the winter festival which we missed, and a blues harmonica player which we attended.  One idea that Rebekah suggested was to have several musicians spread out; the center has really nice walking trails and there would be plenty of room to space performers so that just as one faded behind, the next would come into focus ahead.  A challenge is funding.  It's not always easy to get folks to volunteer for a gig, even a short one.  Getting some funds from an art/culture organization, or doing a crowdfunding project, or something like that might make it possible to pull in more people.  But I also think that just networking among local performers could help.  There are plenty in the area.  Anyhow, this is something that I hope to see more of in the future.

Big thanks to all the folks at DHNC for hosting this event!
Tags: gardening, holiday, illinois, music, nature, personal, poetry
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