I was walking in a dark valley–"Returning" by Wendell Berry
and above me the tops of the hills
had caught the morning light.
I heard the light singing as it went
among the grassblades and the leaves.
I waded upward through the shadow
until my head emerged,
my shoulders were mantled with the light,
and my whole body came up
out of the darkness, and stood
on the new shore of the day.
Where I had come was home,
for my own house stood white
where the dark river wore the earth.
The sheen of bounty was on the grass,
and the spring of the year had come.
Lately, the moon has been in a triangle with Venus and Jupiter, all 3 brighter than anything else in the early night sky, with Orion close on their heels as they all fly west (more correctly, as we spin east). I mark my nights by the angle of Orion relative to the tops of buildings, even though I see only a narrow swath of stars at any given moment.
In combination with the calendar arrival of spring and the buzz of our own family’s hive, all of this observable celestial movement inspires thoughts of cyclical change and growth, our roots extending and shoots inching our heads above ground to feel the newly warm air. It is no coincidence that the flowers identify, too – in fact, they led the charge. Snowdrops bloomed. Daffodils and magnolia are already wilting and leaves are unfurling, while bleeding hearts, tulips, grape hyacinth, and cherry blossoms begin to open.
As you may have gathered, we have a few things going on around here, and we actually put one project together last year that is just plain perfect for spring and Mother’s Day, but we were a little late to the party. This year, I’m thrilled to be one step ahead of things (at least on this front!) and show off a series of cards I put together with my mom.
My mom, Priscilla Steele, is a phenomenal drawer (draughtswoman? sometime illustrator? fine artist, to be sure) and she drew these tiny delicate blooms last winter in anticipation of me letterpress printing them. I did the lettering for each of four flowers: Bleeding Hearts, Dutchman’s Britches, Meadow Rue, and Sweet William. Truth be told, collaboration with my mom is about as good as it gets. We may be 29 years apart, but we are often like the same being, just at different points on the same orbit. It was a pleasure to put together this small collection of botanicals that showcase the very earliest flowers, the spring ephemerals, the first markers that spring is on its way.
Sets of 8 cards (2 of each bloom) are available in our shop and would make a delightful Mother’s Day gift. To make it even sweeter, I’m more than happy to wrap and ship them anywhere in the world with a note, too!