A Day for Mothers and the Earth

Since my mom, Joan Cannon Tweit, isn’t around to celebrate Mother’s Day with (she died in February of 2011, the same year Richard died), I decided I’d spend Mother’s Day weekend doing things she taught inspired me to do.

(That’s Mom in the photo above, the California girl who loved the mountains posing on she and Dad’s old sedan on their honeymoon at Mt. Lassen National Park in July, 1952. They intended to camp for the week, but the snow was still so deep the campgrounds weren’t open yet. So they stayed at a lodge and went hiking anyway. Probably not in saddle shoes though!)

I didn’t go camping or hiking–the weather was too blustery and cold. I did the things Mom loved to do around home: garden and tend nearby wild places. 

I planted some new plants in my rock garden, including this yellow ‘Sundancer’ daisy, which has the inglorious official common name of Stemless Four-nerve Daisy. (Could we be a little more creative?) This high-desert native not only sports cheerful flowers and blooms early, the plant also grows a lovely mat of silvery-green leaves, and will thrive for decades in soil as poor as the road-base on my former industrial site. 

Stemless Four-nerve Daisy (Tetraneurus acaulis, which means the same as the plant’s common name, just in reverse order) 

With the help of my friend Maggie, I hung a bluebird nest box from the fence Richard built a decade ago along the edge of this property. I’m a little late getting box put up, but perhaps there’s a pair of mountain bluebirds or tree swallows still looking for nesting real estate… 

Today, I spent two hours picking trash out of the creek and weeding along “my” block of the Salida Trail and Ditch Creek. The bonus for continuing to work on my ongoing (18+ years so far) urban ecological restoration project is that as I clear away windblown trash (thank you, Safeway shoppers, for those receipts, plastic bags, hand-wipes, and other trash) and pull weeds, I get the joy of seeing wildflowers and native grasses return. 

Like this Lewis flax (Linum lewisii) named for Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, growing next to a clump of native bluegrass.

Mom’s the one who taught me to love wildflowers–she nurtured a woodland garden of native plants rescued from development sites long before that kind of thing was cool–so I feel a strong connection to her when I’m working in my restored mountain prairie yard or along the creek. I know I that in this work especially, I am honoring her spirit and her love for this planet’s magnificent diversity of beings of all sorts, from the tiniest creatures that animate the soil underfoot to the towering redwood trees that shaded the creek behind the house where she grew up. 

Thanks, Mom, for loving me just as I am, and for teaching me to know and care for the wonders of this planet.  

After I got home from my creek work, Molly called and I celebrated Mother’s Day all over again. We talked about life and work, motivation and mothering, dogs and her daddy. It was one of those glorious conversations that had no agenda and included some wisdom, some laughter, some sadness, and a whole lot of love. 

A conversation that made me feel lucky just to be alive, and to have fallen heart-whole for she and her daddy almost 34 years ago. 

Who could not love those two? At our backyard wedding reception in Laramie, Wyoming. 

That’s what Mother’s Day is really about. Not cards or flowers or brunch or any of the other trappings. Those are lovely, but the real point is about honoring and enjoying the mothers we love, whether they’re with us here or not.

Birth mothers, step-mothers, mothers of friends who took us in when we needed love too, mothers of our life-partners, mothers in creativity and inspiration; and, of course, Gaia herself, mother of us all. A day to celebrate motherly nurturing and love in all forms. 

Thank you to mothers of all kinds, everywhere.