Clouds reflected in the water in a pond full of water lilies in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Winnipeg
In her beautifully written book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer has a chapter about water lilies. Kimmerer is a botany professor but she is also a poignant writer and has this incredibly wise and wonderful way of linking our lives to those of the plant world.
She tells the story of her two daughters leaving home. She has just visited the older one who is attending university in a distant state and now she is driving the youngest daughter to the college she will attend. Robin recalls all the responsibilities she had as a mother keeping a household running for her two daughters and supporting them in their various endeavours. There were constant demands on her to give and give and give. Yet she is grieving deeply as she drives away after dropping off her daughter at her dormitory. Robin decides to go canoeing and the time she spends in nature feeds her and restores her. Just as she has been giving to her daughters for so many years now nature is giving to her.
Water lily in a cenote in Mexico where I went swimming
Robin talks in particular about the water lilies she encounters canoeing and how they look so beautiful. She knows as a botanist that water lilies get their air and light on the surface of the water but they are anchored below by a rhizome as thick as your wrist and so strong it is almost impossible to break. Robin also describes in delicate and lovely language how the old leaves of a water lily and the new ones are inextricably linked and how they help one another survive.
Robin is wise enough to let her readers come to their own conclusions but her words reminded me so much of my parenting experience. How we hope when our children leave home we have given them a strong enough anchor as they seek the things that will bring air and light to their own lives. How we hope that the bond we have with our children will keep us linked together albeit in constantly new and changing ways and that as our lives move forward we will continue to help one another survive and thrive in this world.
This chapter in Robin’s book is entitled The Consolation of Water Lilies. She named it perfectly.
Grateful for Mom’s Support
Plants That Talked to Me
Filed under Books, Nature
Much of my life revolves around books. Two upcoming events have me flush with bookish anticipation and excitement. One is the annual Friends of the Library book sale which will take place at Grant Park Highschool next weekend. I recently joined the Board of Directors of the Winnipeg Friends of the Library organization. I helped to found the Friends of the Library group in Steinbach many years ago and thought I’d like to get involved with the organization again. To learn more about the substantial fundraising efforts the group undertakes each year I have gone down a number of times to help at the Friends Book Room in the basement of the St. James Library. Here a dedicated group of volunteers works year-round to sort and organize and pack hundreds of boxes of books for the annual Friends of the Library sale at Grant Park Highschool. The money raised supports, among other things, the wonderful Writer in Residence program at the library. It is a service that has benefitted many fledging Winnipeg writers, including me. I will be volunteering at the Friends of the Library book sale this coming Saturday morning. Come down to say hello and pick up a few books!
I also just purchased the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It will be the book up for discussion at the November 12th Books and Brushes event at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I will be leading that discussion. McNally Robinson Booksellers, co-sponsors the Books and Brushes series with the WAG, and when I purchased my copy of the book there recently, the clerk raved about it to me. I am so looking forward to reading Braiding Sweetgrass which as the famed Jane Goodall says, “shows how the factual, objective approach of science can be enriched by the ancient knowledge of the indigenous people.” I am already thinking of many ways I will be able to connect the book to the current work on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. You still have nearly a month to get the book and read it. I’d love to have you join me for Books and Brushes on November 12. Details are here.
Books and Brushes- Connecting Art and Literature
A Bottomless Vortex of Books
Grandparents Who Were Readers