Thursday, April 26, 2012

Making kid magic.

I read an article recently commenting on the passage of time. It talked about that list of activities you want to do with your child. They are good ideas, but it’s never quite the right time. Then suddenly, your child turns 18.

I narrowly averted one of those regrets this week.

Five years or so ago I saw a picture of a child’s teepee made of long poles, with vines trained to grow up and shelter the space inside. How cool, I thought. I persuaded my husband to drag up long cedar poles and lash them to the outstretched branch of an Ashe juniper near our picnic table. I stuck some jack been seeds in the cedar mulch at the base of the poles and waited for the kid magic to happen.

It didn’t happen. The vines didn’t grow, and the teepee stood there year after year, neglected and unused, except for the time it was wrapped in a sheet for a senior English film project by my oldest son and his friends. They filmed a Westernized adaptation of  “Candide“; my daughter had a small role as a young Indian girl. This was not quite what I had in mind, but fun, nevertheless.

But as part of the gardening frenzy of this spring, Monday afternoon I conscripted my daughter to help me with clearing out under the teepee and planting. She was reluctant. She was engrossed in her own activity.  Nonetheless, she trudged over and began pulling weeds and removing rocks. Then she retrieved the broom while I retrieved the loppers, and she swept the dirt in the teepee while I lopped live oak scrub encroaching into the teepee space.  Next I gathered some plastic 1-gallon pots with the bottoms cut out and placed them at the base of several of the tent poles. We filled them with good garden soil and planted transplanted morning glories on either side of the door and hyacinth bean seeds in three other pots.

Somewhere in the middle of this, she got into the project, and began coming up with her own ideas to improve the teepee. She suggested bringing in dirt and putting turf grass on top, so she could lie down comfortably. We agreed that Native Americans probably used buffalo robes for floor coverings. Wish we had one of those . . .

So now I have a second chance to make this project work before my beautiful daughter is too old to enjoy it.  My fingers are crossed that the kid magic happens this time.

But really, I think the magic has already begun.

Favorite spot in my garden:

One of my favorite wildflowers began blooming this week, just in time for Wildflower Wednesday (hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone). The prairie brazoria (Warnockia scutellarioides) did not bloom at all in last year’s drought.   The plant pictured here is part of a volunteer colony in a flowerbed right outside my office window. I also saw some yesterday by the driveway – much smaller and less showy.   

This gem is native to calcareous soils in Central Texas (that’s us!), according to the Wildflower Research Center database. It blooms April to June, is 6 to 12” high (some in my bed are taller), can form extensive colonies and attracts butterflies. Love it!

Visit Clay and Limestone to see more wildflower pictures!


  1. Grab those moments, and hold on tight. As you know, they grow up SO fast.

    I love that Brazoria...wish some would grow over here.

    And....deer don't eat morning glories?

    1. They do grow fast! And we shall see about the morning glories - they haven't eaten the ones in my flowerbed.

  2. Cynthia, the morning glories you gave me have been all eaten up. I haven't seen the culprit but assume it's that worm that's eating everything else. They left yours alone? I'm still watering the poor little stems.

    1. No, no caterpillars on that - but on other stuff for sure!

  3. Great story. I hope the vines grow and your daughter enjoys some fine moments lying on her buffalo robes, looking up at the flowers, in there. You too.

  4. Cynthia, That was a touching and sweet story! I could never talk my son into gardening with me but, he grew up to be an ecologist! Seeds planted when they are young eventually grow! Love the wildflower! Pink is a good color for a flower. gail

    1. I think you're right, Gail. My daughter has been proud this spring of being able to identify wildflowers for her friends at school . . . and I agree about the pinkness!