Re-Wild Thing

by Deanna K. Kreisel (Doctor Waffle Blog)

It had been a long time since I thought about lawns. I don’t mean in a grand philosophical sense, or the stoned contemplation of a single blade of grass. I mean thought about them at all. Before moving to Mississippi we had lived in Vancouver for 13 years, where we felt lucky to have a place to store our toothbrushes and maybe an extra pair of slacks; we really hit the jackpot when we acquired a postage-stamp-sized balcony on which we could murder tomato plants. Actual yards were out of the question for anyone who hadn’t bought a house on the west end of town 30 years ago; by the time we moved to Vancouver in 2006 as a tenure-track assistant professor and a trailing-spouse adjunct, it was already clear that we would never own a lawn.

And yet here we are: the proud owners of nearly an acre of chemical-soaked herbage dotted here and there with scrubby flowering bushes native to an ecosystem half a planet away. Or at least that’s what came along with our new house in Mississippi, which was the main attraction: a 1962 bungalow with two fireplaces, built-in bookcases, arched doorways, and mellow hardwood floors. To be honest, I didn’t want the lawn—or the yard at all, really. If it had been possible to purchase a mid-century gem with a porch swing and seven ceiling fans that was floating on a gossamer cloud in mid-air—basically a house from The Jetsons—I would have done so.[1] I took one look at that expanse of greenery, factored in the whole located-in-the-Deep-South element, and saw nothing but a never-ending round of backbreaking chores. And boy, was I right. But not for the reasons you might think. Read more »

A Walk on the Wild Side

by Leanne Ogasawara


Like clockwork, every year around the spring equinox, the ducks and egrets would return to the river in Tochigi. And sprigs of green grass would start sprouting in our lawn. This was when people started taking to the hills to pick mountain vegetables, herbs, and other wild foods. My son loved looking for ferns and fiddleheads. In Japan, this meant warabi (bracken fern), zenmai (osmund or cinnamon fern) and kogomi (ostrich fern). We enjoyed going “baby fern hunting.” The delicacies could be found along a trail a bike-ride away from our house. Like little coiled springs, the fiddleheads seemed waiting for just the right moment to unfurl.

Old like dragonflies, ferns once covered prehistoric forests. My son and I loved imagining ourselves wandering in a never-ending fern forest as gigantic dinosaurs soared in the skies above our heads. The mist-covered hill near our house, just waking up from winter was the home of fiddleheads, lilies and dogtooth violets. And there was an ancient shrine standing guard at the summit.

Mountains smiling in early spring” –Borrowed like so many things from China, the poetic trope was made famous in Japan by the Northern Song painter Guo Xi, whose poem about mountains smiling and laughing in spring appeared in an poetry anthology in Japanese known as  漢詩集 「臥遊録」 Chinese Poetry Anthology Dream Journey Jottings:


 “Mountains smiling in early spring” was an image much appreciated in Japanese haiku. After what must have felt like an unendingly long period of cold and depressing “mountains sleeping,” the mountains in March would seem to almost “spring” to life again.

笑= can mean smiling and/or laughing: oh, how this has tormented translators of Japanese and Chinese… Read more »