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Growing Along the Trail: March Trillium

How do you spend your March?

Do you listen for the sounds of birds returning home? Maybe you watch for the first sign of flowers, those little green tufts. March is a time of transition. Of waiting, of watching for the advent of spring. It is a difficult wait sometimes; some days are warm and some are snow-filled. Some of us take this month to watch for the signs of spring.

"I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,

If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,

If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun

And crocus fires are kindling one by one:

Sing, robin, sing;

I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring." -Christina Rosetti

I learned recently that this watching that Christina Rosetti wrote of is a science called phenology, and those of us who practice the watching for signs of spring are, in our own backyards and down forest paths, phenologists. Each year plants and insects emerge in almost the exact same order. It's a comforting thought, the cyclical nature of the way the Lord has ordered the blossoming of spring. Some of us have learned parts of that order, finding joy in keeping up with the rhythm of the year. Maybe you are just starting down that trail. Be it a science or a song, whether we know it or not, we are phenologists.

"I wonder if the springtide of this year

Will bring another Spring both lost and dear;

If heart and spirit will find out their Spring,

Or if the world alone will bud and sing:

Sing, hope, to me;

Sweet notes, my hope, soft notes for memory." -Christina Rosetti

March comes often as a hard month. We do not always wait and watch with joy; rather, our waiting is fueled by frustration and an impatience to leave the season we currently inhabit. We wait simply for the suffering of those cloudy days and freezing temperatures to be at an end. I admit I am guilty of this joyless waiting, especially since the past several years have held very difficult Marches. From a grave diagnosis to the beginning of a path towards the grave, the memories which flood this time remain with me. I want to skip March, if I am honest.

Can we hope for spring without despairing of the season we are in? I think we might. Perhaps that hope can color what is around us, bring the anticipation of joy to fullness of joy in our present circumstances.

"The sap will surely quicken soon or late,

The tardiest bird will twitter to a mate;

So Spring must dawn again with warmth and bloom,

Or in this world, or in the world to come:

Sing, voice of Spring,

Till I too blossom and rejoice and sing."-Christina Rosetti

I wanted to pursue hope this month, and that's why I chose Trilliums as my subject. How to even begin telling you how much I love these flowers? I could share a hundred stories and thoughts about these wondrous flowers from my childhood into adulthood. My love of these beautiful botanicals began in my childhood. I distinctly remember a special walk in the woods with my grandma's friend Joan. She took us to a magical place that I still feel privileged to have visited. It was on private property, and we referred to it as May Valley. The trillium and other flowers which inhabit it often bloom in late April and early May, which is where the name might have come from.

We parked on the side of the road deep in the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania. Our path looked ordinary, just more forest with the leaves not quite yet out. Not long into the walk we came upon a vale, tucked in the forest. I can still see the carpet of flowers, which nearly sparkled. Deep green foliage and crisp, white petals packed the little oasis. White, red and yellow trillium, dutchman's breeches, and so many other flowers. It was a paradise of spring ephemerals. We stepped gingerly everywhere, though my heart wanted to dance across the ravine with the little nodding flower heads keeping the beat. The picture stays in my mind.

Let's look forward to the coming trilliums. For us in Ohio, they will come in the latter half of April. But I find myself watching already along the path for signs of leaves and buds. There are things growing even in March, they are just getting ready to bloom.


Back in the Studio

In pondering trillium this month, I was full of ideas. Some of them I have not yet had a chance to create, but what I did make I am excited to share.

The first piece I created continued my journey in needle-turn applique after the Winter Beeches. I enjoyed it, though I am still learning. I picked up the antique quilt square at the antique shop I am a part of in Peninsula, and I painted the trillium flowers and leaves. I loved the idea of the flowers growing up out of a quilt.

The second piece was inspired by the photo above of the red trilliums growing out of a rock. The background is an antique linen towel. Layered on top using needle-turn applique (a quilting technique) is painted cotton pieces along with embroidered embellishments to create the flowers. The rock they are perched atop is made from an antique quilt square, an antique wool blanket, and an antique coverlet piece. Using different antique textiles alongside my own painted pieces is a way to combine so many of my passions.

Let's look forward to the coming trilliums. For us in Ohio, they will come in the latter half of April. But I find myself watching already along the path for signs of leaves and buds. There are things growing even in March, they are just getting ready to bloom. ~

Find my work in my Etsy shop.


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