Illustration by Thea Green, 13, for the story “Penny’s Journey”, Published November/December 2005
A Note from William Rubel
I came back from Kenya to my home in Santa Cruz, California, to find that spring had finally arrived. We had had such a wet—and for us, cold—winter! I hope that all of you are enjoying a lovely spring. My garden is lush with foliage and alive with flowers. But it is not a normal city garden. It is a wild garden, a garden of wild plants. I pull out all the grasses, but otherwise I let the wild plants grow—“weeds,” as some call them. Water a weed garden, and nature presents you with a paradise!
Wherever you live, even in the most built-up parts of a built-up city, you will find beautiful flowering “weeds.” For this weekend’s photography project, I’d like you to go out to your garden, if you have one, and also to take a walk in your neighborhood. At this time of year you will find flowering weeds wherever there is dirt—including in sidewalk cracks. Use your phone or camera to draw out the beauty in the dandelion and in the other wild plants you find. Perhaps your day looking at urban weeds will convince you to let them into your garden as I have!
If you take a photograph that you feel is especially good, please submit it to Stone Soup so Emma can consider it for publication. Thank you!
I’d like to say something about the poem “Some Days,” which you will find as the last entry in this newsletter. The poem asks questions about something that is really, really important. It is a poem that explores a question that those of you who have not yet reached university will be able to study when you are there: How is identity constructed?
You are a girl. You love pink. Why? Were you born loving pink, or do you love it because ever since your mother’s baby shower—which means before you were even born—everyone around you associated you, a girl, with the love of pink.
We can all agree that a dragon is a fiction—a made-up creature. In her poem, Olivia seems to ask whether our identity as boys, girls, men, and women might not also be something of a fiction, like the dragon. Thank you, Olivia, for making us think.
Until next week,
Focus on poetry for the final days of National Poetry Month!
To celebrate National Poetry Month, we are offering a discount on the wonderful Stone Soup Book of Poetry, a collection of 120 poems published in Stone Soup between 1988 and 2011.
And, for more poetry ideas, don’t forget to visit the Academy of American Poets’ website—in particular, check our their “Dear Poet” initiative. Just click on their logo below:
Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com.
New blogger Oishee Sinharay urges us to take animal abuse seriously: “When people abuse animals, they often forget that animals, no matter what kind, are living, thinking, beings.” Read more here, but be aware it is an upsetting topic.
On Thursday, we published a piece by Abigail Herrington that goes over some interesting traditions that people in Poland have to mark springtime. Read Abigail’s post to find out about Śmigus-Dyngus or “Wet Monday,” and the Drowning and Burning of Marzanna.
From Stone Soup, March 2019
By Olivia Cadham, 11
Some days I am a girl.
On these days I like to giggle and play with toys. I wear bright blue clothes and shirts with cats on them. When I feel like a girl, my feelings change. I feel kind and happy. I like being a girl.
But . . .
There is a downside.
My heart is bigger than on other days. It becomes too big for my body. This causes my feelings to mix together, and that results in emotional drama. This doesn’t make me want to be a girl.
So . . .
Some days I am a boy.
On these days I like to be silly and play rough. I wear darker clothes, like blue, black, or red. When I’m a boy, I feel like my body fits me better. Sometimes it’s as if God intended me to physically be a boy, but changed his mind at the last second. I like being a boy.
But . . .
Sometimes I feel like I’m too awkward to be a boy. I’m not a very sporty person, and I don’t like jokes. This causes me to appear abnormal and too “sensitive.” This doesn’t make me want to be a boy.
So . . .
Some days I am a dragon.
On these days I like to stomp through the hallways and growl under my breath. I wear light clothing on these days so, being a Dutch Angel Dragon, my fur doesn’t overheat. When I’m a dragon, I like to use pronouns like it, they, them, and their.
But . . .
Dragging around invisible wings, horns, and a tail all day gets exhausting really fast. I get agitated, and sometimes chirp swears (or something rude) in my language. Even though no one can understand, it is not a good feeling to be cursing, even if it’s an accident. This doesn’t make me want to be a dragon.
So . . . It’s really quite simple. I make another choice . . . to be Olivia, who is currently a dragon (roar!!!).
Read more reflective poetry on our website, Stonesoup.com.
Stone Soup’s advisors: Abby Austin, Mike Axelrod, Annabelle Baird, Jem Burch, Evelyn Chen, Juliet Fraser, Zoe Hall, Montanna Harling, Alicia & Joe Havilland, Lara Katz, Rebecca Kilroy, Christine Leishman, Julie Minnis, Jessica Opolko, Tara Prakash, Denise Prata, Logan Roberts, Emily Tarco, Rebecca Ramos Velasquez, Susan Wilky