It’s been 35 years since Minnesotans have experienced a winter as cold as this one. I won’t rant. Let’s just say cold builds character and leave it at that. I will share a photo I took today of the street where I live.

Greetings from Minnesota. Wish you were here.

Greetings from Minnesota. Wish you were here.

We are a strong and hardy people, you betcha. I created one “seasonal” painting this year, when the winter was still young and full of wonder.

Solstice

Solstice

And then after a flurry of too many days of below zero temps, my thoughts turned to warmer days and radiant heat. I am still thinking about bees (and butterflies and birds, oh my), so I created some colorful, flowerful, bee-ful works. There are about 400 different kinds of native bees in Minnesota (honey bees aren’t one of them; they aren’t even native to the U.S. for that matter) so I have a lot of paintings to get out of my system. My daughter Lucy took some color-filled photos for me last summer that I used for inspiration.

A bee in Prince Eugen's garden near Stockholm, Sweden

A bee in Prince Eugen’s garden near Stockholm, Sweden

A Tiger Swallowtail in my garden

A Tiger Swallowtail in my garden

While surrounded by winter, I decided to take a bee flower class offered by the University of Minnesota. Bees and butterflies are some of the “canaries in the coal mine”–their demise is a reflection of the overall demise of our environment. One of the biggest challenges these critters face is loss of habitat. The good news is anyone who has control of soil (even just a pot of it) can help repair the problem. All it takes is conscious thought of what one plants. Pretty pansies, planted profusely in early spring, are a food wasteland for bees and butterflies. Disrespected dandelions (aka, bee flowers) offer life sustaining nectar to bees in late spring (so help bring back the honeybee and let the dandies thrive in your yard!) Native plants are hands-down the winners for providing garden sustenance (if you buy them at your local garden store, be sure to get a good answer as to the pesticides that may be residing in or on the plants you buy so you aren’t merely compounding the problem). Think twice (or even thrice) about applying pesticides in your garden. Just because your garden center sells pesticides (even if they are “organic”) doesn’t mean they discriminate between bees, butterflies, dragonflies, etc. and the pest you are trying to eliminate. (Never use pesticides containing deadly neonicotinoids!)  And remember, butterflies often need one set of plants (host plants) on which to lay their eggs and another to feed on later (host plants are often overlooked in the garden).

But on to art. Art created during the coldest winter in 35 years. I’d like to see this set grow to six by the time the Art-A-Whirl art crawl rolls around in May. Stop by to see if I managed to pull that off. See you soon!

In the Bee Garden, 2nd series

In the Bee Garden, 2nd series