Monday, April 18, 2022

npm 18: the mayapples


The Mayapples



These photos are from the smallest woods you can imagine, an area about a quarter-mile square, wedged between suburban cul-de-sacs and the elementary school, about 100 yards from my front door.  It's always a special place, although many in the neighborhood have never set foot in it, but during the pandemic it was particularly a place of serenity and industry, refuge and entertainment.  I walked around and around; my son built lean-to shelters and twisted rope from the bark of fallen trees; my spouse protected its paths from reckless motorbikers; and we all watched its transformation from season to season.  It also has the advantage of being situated at the top of a rise, meaning that it always catches the very last of the sun in the evening.

Last night the Mayapples reminded me that as insignificant as I often feel in the climate rescue movement, I am never doing anything alone.  In ALL WE CAN SAVE, Varshini Prakash writes in "We Are Sunrise" about falling "in love with organizing because it's about changing politics, not just lightbulbs, and challenging the status quo...practicing democracy in ways that are vibrant and inclusive."  And while Sunrise Movement sprang up in part because the youth who formed it were fed up with existing green organizations, in truth we will succeed only if there are a hundred and more ways for each of us to find the group that helps us connect and act.

"We wade collectively through the paralysis of fear, grief, shame, and hopelessness and into action that brings feelings of strength, possibility, and even joy.  For this is noble and necessary work, and it is impossible to do alone."
                                                                                        --Kate Knuth, "Becoming a Climate Citizen"



My project for NPM 2022:
This month I'm making "human stories to move human beings.  Human stories are more powerful for inciting action than counting carbon or detailing melting glaciers." (Favianna Rodriguez, from her essay "Harnessing Cultural Power," in ALL WE CAN SAVE.)
Read previous poems in the series here:
5 A comparison of beaver wisdom with human attempts to control water & fire


  1. My heart needed this poem today. Been feeling a lot of the "paralysis of fear, grief, shame, and hopelessness" recently. The mayapples will remind me to hope. (The bluebells, too!)

  2. This seems like a magical place, I wish I lived close by. Like Mary Lee, I'm struggling not to succumb to paralysis right now. Your poem reminds me to do what little I can...

  3. Good luck on continuing your NPM PROJECT, Heidi. I like how you make valid attempts to "human stories to move human beings".

  4. I love your poem, Heidi. Your first line hooked me. I love how you used "determined" after rise. I also love "determined, spiking through the dead leaves of last year if need be." I especially love "glossy umbrellas of insistent green". I have always thought they looked like umbrellas, too. Your use of "insistent" before green is powerful. I love how your third stanza "peacefully stand together" contrasts the "nip at each other" in the second stanza. I enjoy how your next line "doing what they can to catch the last evening light" implies that if they stand together peacefully, they will catch the last light. I especially love these lines, too "Everywhere you look there are fierce contingents of Mayapples rising, growing, springing, ringing. They do not fight for territory; they spread." I like that you repeat "rising". I also love your powerful ending lines "They are citizens of this tiny wood, they are your neighbors, they call you to join the greening. March wherever you are." This is perfect and pulls me in "they call you to join the greening".

    A few days ago, I saw our Mayapples looking like yours. I live in upstate NY near Saratoga Springs. I have to go back to see if the Mayapples bloomed. Thank you for reminding me. I love wildflowers; I have some red Trilliums, Canada May flowers, and Solomin's Seal in my backyard. I think your NPM project is an important project, I admire you for doing it, and I thank you for sharing other organizations, your thoughts, and the book you are reading. I sign petitions for Moms' Clean Air Force.

    It is wonderful that in this little patch of woods your family and you see the beauty of nature in it and value it. I'm the same way. Being in the woods, hiking a mountain, cross country skiing in the woods are my escapes, and what I like to write about along with my garden, birds, and the little patch of woods in my backyard. I appreciate how you are trying to show other people the value of the woods, nature, land and how we must rise together like your Mayapples to fight for our green spaces to still be here for our grandchildren...


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!