by Lydia Denee-Lee

Plants — a pocket of life, a teacher, a medicine, a home, and an individual. Often plants are viewed as a resource, whether they are used for lumber or to decorate the corners of a concrete world: they are often not seen as individuals but objectified into a monetary value or a measurable worth. Throughout my time at Redfish I was able to be surrounded by others who recognized these diverse beings that make up our world as sentient, and was pushed to learn more about each one we encountered.

Some of their names, stories, and characteristics are stuck in my brain while others were lost along our journeys. Since I have returned home from the islands, I have started looking around the house I have called my home for the past three years and realized how many plants I didn’t recognize. I couldn’t tell you the name of tree I’ve been climbing up for the past two years to get a better peek at the moon, or the interesting flower growing on the outskirts of my basement. These plants have watched me grow as I watched them, but I had yet to introduce myself.

Above you will see a collection of plants that I gathered within a block of my home in the traditional lands of the Lummi and Nooksack Nations (Bellingham, WA). I have tried my best to identify each one of them using what I remember from Redfish, what my family and friends have taught me, previous classes about plants, or my field guide. I want to continue learning the names and the stories of the plants that surround me, and find ways in which I can obtain seeds of plants native to this region and find the best habitats to plant them both in and out of the city.

You will find the leaves or branches from a bigleaf maple, holly, western red cedar and a camellia tree.  There is a branch from what I think is a sitka mountain-ash (orange berries) and a small blackish blue berry that I originally thought was salal, but upon a closer examination of the leaves I am not sure what it is (salal has soft edges around its leaves while this berry branch has some flare around the edges). The skeletons of bluebells and the fresh pickings of brass buttons and visible throughout the collection as well. These plants and I share a home, and have now been properly introduced.


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