Growing Home

It’s just about this time each winter that I thank each little sign of the season to come, as it helps me not go absolutely @#%@#%$&^%*#@ crazy.

Loud, proud, and in total defiance of the polar vortex, the Amaryllis bulb given to us by a work friend now triumphantly rises almost 2 feet above its pot, peering proudly through our kitchen window in a four-flower-festival of red and white and orange, leading the charge to the spring that (surely) will be here soon.  Amaryllis, you are my hero. Thanks for brightening our home. As Marie Kondo would put it: you spark joy.

I was inspired last month by a great celebration of the seasonal circle of life: a Seed Exchange event sponsored by the Round Lake Area Public Library. I’d not heard of Seed Exchange events before, but I was amazed by the number of groups including the University of Illinois Extension College of Agriculture) sponsoring not just information and advice on how to make the most of the upcoming spring growing season, but freely giving away hundreds of seed packets of herbs, flowers, vegetables, fruit, grasses, and a host of native plants dialed in to the climate of SW Lake County and ready to rip come the warm weather. I enjoyed a presentation by a local Master Gardener who shared the top tips on how to save the seeds from your different homegrown plants, to prepare for the next planting season and to share with others. I came home with a huge sack of seeds of all types, more than I could possibly grow this year (and the next few combined), but I feel transformed and renewed by the energy and possibility they represent. It may be chill today, but look to the warm tomorrow.

Speaking of inspired, the stories in this month’s SW Lake Lifestyle share many perspectives on “Home”, including inspiring ideas and helpful connections to making our home the special place we’ve always wanted. From striking outdoor spaces, to the latest gadgets to install (and to hold off on), to the transformative power of a splash of paint, it’s all right here, along with a great escape opportunity (join Dana on her bucket-list trip to New Zealand) and a gallop down the trail with Partners For Progress as their therapeutic riding facility and its many riders are part of history in the making.

Well, time to go plant a good seed or two! (And also, start the garden…)

See you around town!

Stephen Neilson

Editor & Chief Photographer, SW Lake Lifetyle