October 2010


The Missing Milkweeds

 So how’s this for a bit of irony.

In trying out a camera I figured I’d attempt to get some closeups of the milkweeds at the end of my driveway. I love that plant. It’s so full of textures: the plump velvety leaves, the sticky milky sap, the rubbery pink flower clusters of spring; the knobbly green pods, the black-and-orange beetles and monarch caterpillars that snack on it in summer; the soft downy fluff that flies from the dried papery pods in fall. So anyway, I got some okay shots, which you can see here. I figured I could see how they turned out and if they were dreck I could go back later to take some more. So here’s where the irony comes in.

It’s a good thing I took a picture of those milkweed pods because now they’re missing! The photos are all I’ve got left.

On (Canadian) Thanksgiving Sunday I drove out my driveway only to find a car parked crosswise at the end blocking my exit. Some guy was fingering a small pine tree growing at the side of my driveway and his apparent wife or female companion was bagging up the milkweed pods!

I rolled down my window and asked them what they were doing. Alright it was obvious but I had to ask.

The woman laughed sheepishly and said she was just gathering the milkweeds. Yeah, like I said, that was obvious. I could see she’d gathered quite a few in her bag. I asked her to leave some for us thank you. Meanwhile, the man had gone to his car and moved it so I could get out of my own driveway. I wasn’t moving. Not till they left. Nope. Not budging.

The woman continued to gather for a few more moments. I really was astounded. Then she got into their car and drove off. So now I hardly have any milkweeds left AT ALL! Like, maybe two or three pods (not plants) at the most. These ones in the photos? GONE!

I wouldn’t have minded so much if she’d only taken a few and then driven on down the road and taken a few from another patch and so on and so on leaving no patch destitute. But she pretty much cleaned me out. So now while we wait for the school bus we have no ghostly patches of down to filter the rising morning sun, no fluffy parachutes to launch into the sky. Milkweeds were kind of a fall ritual for me and my kids.

Okay, rant over and now I feel better. It’s a minor thing, I know. But sometimes it’s the little things in life that get to you, you know? Little things—at once both little and hugely important. And it’s the little things a writer adds to a character or to a setting that make for the best stories, I think. So go, and may you sow the seeds of your own milkweeds in your manuscripts.

© Lizann Flatt, www.lizannflatt.com
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.

The Poor Pine

Fall is such a spectacular time of year around here. You can’t ignore the colour of the deciduous trees, and every warm day is like a gift as we count down to the coming constant cold of winter. I climbed the Dorset fire tower with my family this past Thanksgiving weekend. How can you not love a view like this?

(Dorset, Ontario at the Fire Tower)

The colour is past its peak but it’s still a spectacular view. I usually focus on the colourful trees, but consider the plight of the pine. The poor pine gets overlooked this time of year. But what would the view be without the deep pine green to punctuate the colour? Maybe you’ve heard that pine trees don’t lose their leaves? It’s one of those “facts” that gets tossed around, but don’t you believe it. It’s not true.

Pine trees do lose their leaves, or rather their needles. It’s just that most types don’t lose them all at the same time so it’s not as noticeable (but take the tamarack–it does lose its needles all at once). No spectacular reds or oranges on a pine to make for great pictures. Pine needles turn yellowish and then brown. You might not even really notice those needles.

Then the needles fall off the tree and collect on the ground. They don’t make a satisfying crunch when you walk on them, but they do form a cushy carpet.

And if you want a lawn anywhere near a pine, you know the needles make as much of a mess when you rake them. So here’s to the poor maligned pine, holding out for its moment to shine–the Holidays.

In the meantime, happy Fall to all!

© Lizann Flatt, www.lizannflatt.com
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.

The Carnival is Coming!

I’m happy to say I’ll be hosting the Carnival of Children’s Literature for October. Yes, a roundup of a month’s worth of children’s literature links from around the blogosphere–here! You don’t want to miss it. Judging by the links to blog posts that are already starting to trickle in, this is going to be a lot of fun to put together and even more fun for you to read.

So be sure to stop in around October 30 or 31st for some spooktacular reading!
© Lizann Flatt, www.lizannflatt.com
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.