A few years ago I decided to learn the names of plants around here. I started with cultivated flowers growing in the neighborhood garden, but the weeds, those wild things, turned my eye away from the garden plants.
Nothing against flower gardens, but the weeds are more interesting to get to know, I think. I admire how understated and tenacious wild plants are, growing in difficult places and living their lives without anyone fussing over them.
I haven't been a quick study, and I need my kids to remind me names and characteristics of wild plants all the time. "This is nightshade, right?" I say, and my kids say, "Mom, it's poison ivy."
Several years ago, someone gave me the advice to learn one plant each season, and that's the plan I've stuck with. I know other people are far ahead of me in their wild-plant knowledge, but I'm slowly making my way season by season. I'm learning to see the world around me as full of different, recognizable plants, not just a tangle of generic green.
Today we walked to soccer practice and I picked a few weeds growing along the path. I sketched them while sitting on the sidelines of the soccer field, and I had to work fast because the plants wilted soon after I picked them.
After dinner tonight, the kids played soccer again until it was dark. Spring has arrived.
Drawing: chickweed, shepherd's purse, garlic mustard.