Poken Sword: A Literary Salon in NE Minneapolis
Today’s post will be a little bit different from my other posts. Instead of sharing about an outdoor adventure, I will share with you a piece of writing I wrote for a writer’s night.
Since last August, I have been attending Poken Sword, a monthly literary salon hosted by 2001: A Space in Northeast Minneapolis. At these events, there is a theme for each month and each month local writer’s read aloud their writing based on the month’s theme. Some of the themes have included: labor, action, gratitude, creativity, connection, justice, hope, and spring. For the month of May, I was asked by the organizer to read something. I agreed and ended up reading aloud my writing to an audience for the first time. I was nervous, of course, but I received a lot of compliments on my piece. People shared with me that they connected with it and that they very much enjoyed how I read the piece.
The theme for May was Spring. Below is what I wrote. Enjoy.
Spring reminds me of many things.
Minnesota Spring is a time where the frozen buds of the previous year turn Minnesota’s barren, yet beautiful landscape into a colorful and diverse world. Maple, Oak, Hackberry, Basswood, and towering Cottonwood trees expel their flowering bodies and develop tiny, green or red leaves, as the Red Oak does. While standing beneath a Basswood in the early spring, looking up towards its adolescent and translucent leaves is a stunning light-green color that marvels no other tree.
Before the forest is carpeted in False Lily-in-the-Valley and Wild Ginger, violets, from the Viola Family, burst from the ground in the not yet shaded woodland forest floor. They clasp their petals tight and then release their lower petal to allow the perfect landing pad for wandering pollinators. Dutchmen’s Breeches dot hillsides and lowland river valleys with minuscule flowers shaped as upside-down trousers. Even as the flowers dispel, the plant continues to standout due to its intricately lacy and oblong leaves. While walking down ravines and entering the lowland, Virginia Waterleaf delicately brush your boots, almost as if gesturing you along, inviting you to go deeper into the floodplain forest. Nestled in sunny patches, the bright purple Phlox flowers bring bursts of color to the expansive green ground cover. And as leaves begin to form and the forest canopy starts to close, the sunny forest floor disperses. In these shaded bits hide populations of Jack-in-the-Pulpit and if you’re lucky, you’ll be graced with the presence of a Queen Bumblebee collecting nectar from within the tubular base, safeguarded by the flower’s spathe.
After the frosts are long gone and there has been a heavy amount of rain comes the forest’s most elusive and mysterious inhabitant: the morel mushroom. Often found beside or near the base of dead elm trees, these mushrooms are like gold in a goldmine. People hike high and low, for hours on end, to find even just one morel. And when you find a patch, these spots stay a secret, not even told to your most trustworthy confidant. There is nothing that smells more like spring than the smell of cooking morels in salted butter.
With all of these things, they all remind us that spring, as well as life, is fleeting. So, it is important during those moments of observation, reflection, and ingestion to not take them for granted. We only get one spring per year, so it’s essential to appreciate the adolescent light-green Basswood leaves; to feel the lower petal of a violet between your fingertips; to listen to the echoing vibrations of a Queen Bumblebee within a Jack-in-the-Pulpit; and, most importantly, to eat your hand-picked morel mushrooms with deliberation and intension.