May Hedge a Gram

Happy May!

   I loved speaking to the children, and giving them an art lesson on how to draw a Polar Bear dressed in an Inuit parka, from my book THE THREE SNOW BEARS. The kid?s drawings were better than mine, they had so much personality. I visited every class and spoke at two assemblies. The children sang me a traditional song, and decorated all their doors with images from my books. I never, ever could have imaged this when I was a young girl and dreaming of becoming a children's book illustrator!
     Later I went to a "Newfie" night. The teachers and friends all made traditional dishes.  Because Grand-Falls Windsor is near the ocean, many of the dishes were fish and shellfish. They were all delicious especially their seafood chowder, which had a flavorful fish stock base, unlike so many of the creamy chowders found in restaurants. Our family sometimes served salted cod when I was little, and I loved revisiting those nostalgic tastes. Having traveled to Scandinavia a number of times, I was introduced to Cloudberries and Lingonberries two of my favorites.  In Newfoundland they are called Partridge berries and Bakedapples. There are a lot of unique names for things in Newfoundland!  I also got to don oil skins and sing, shout out Newfie expressions, and kiss a codfish on the lips as part of my Screeching in, a ceremony to make Joe and I honorary Newfound-landers. We loved every bit of our time in Newfoundland. We have given quite a bit of thought about what makes Newfound-landers so special, but we just don't know. The people we met seemed very happy with their lives and proud of their corner of the earth.
     I don't now if we can make it back to Newfoundland this year but I"m looking forward to visiting again and going to Saint Johns, Saint Anthony, where the Grendell Mission Museum is, and to the ancient Viking settlement in northwest Newfoundland.   I will be back to Canada in September to cape Bretton Island to run in their Fiddlers Marathon.
    Now that May is here, we can join with Mother Nature and be creative. Everywhere in our town there are plants and trees flowering. The birds are arriving from the South, and the males are marking their territories with their song. I?m still waiting to hear my favorite, the eastern towhee. A woodland bird that is a dramatic white , black and russet. It's call sounds like "drink your tea!" We also have a huge bullfrog in our turtle pond, as well as many three inch long tadpoles, some  have back legs.  From my reading I learned that bullfrog tadpoles take several years to mature into frogs, which means the eggs need a pond that will not dry up in summer like many of the vernal pools we have in our town. I also read that bull frogs are voracious hunters, and have been known to eat the hummingbirds that feed on the pond side flowers.
     I am always more energetic in spring and I hope you also have a challenging fun project to work on.  We had a visit from one of my friends from the poultry shows I attend, Julia, who brought her twenty-something year old box turtle to visit, Amelia.   I filmed a "How to draw" video and talk about Amelia.  I hope you will click on ?Videos? on my home page so you can see a box turtle like Mossy (without her garden) and our turtle pond.
     Be creative, and Happy May,

           Jan Brett