Harbingers of Spring

Published March 24, 2021

Happy almost April! 💐🌺🐝

We hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful and warm weather because we certainly are! Speaking of warm weather and the upcoming months, this month’s edition is all about plants and gardening. We are not expert gardeners; however, we know some people who are, so, for this edition, we had them take over. Here, you will find some great articles written by Patrick Faulkner, the agriculture teacher at Ligon Magnet Middle School, Virginia Bruce (a plant “mom”), and Rob Craig. Furthermore, we would like to thank Mr. Robin and Ms. Nilda for the idea to photograph different gardens around the neighborhood and the title of this edition!

Lastly, we would like to thank everyone who submitted a prompt for the writing contest. We really loved reading them! Make sure to check out some of the winning stories and learn about our Writing Contest live stream.

Happy Spring!

-Leeya and Adalia

How the Women’s Movement Influenced Three Big Social Movements 

By Leeya

Since it’s Women’s History Month, I thought it would be a perfect time to learn more about women’s history. I decided to do this by studying ‘The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s course of Women and Politics in 20th century America.’ I have learned about many new things but I decided to pick one topic and write about it for this month. I will put the link to the course below if anyone wants to learn more!

Link to course: https://tinyurl.com/7wvje2ce 

I have found it very interesting that all of the big social movements weave together with the women’s movement. In the Antebellum period (1783-1861), there were three important social movements where women were prominent. 

I think of these movements like a web of change. The women are like spiders. Day by day, they work to weave a little piece of the web of change. In the end, they weave a beautiful web left for the young spiders to live in. These young spiders represent a new generation of women.

The first social movement was social purity specifically, the fight against prostistution. As much as women tried to help these prostitutes and perform “rescue missions” for them, many prostitutes didn’t want to do that because they earned good money compared to other common jobs like working in factories and shops. 

The second social movement was temperance – the fight against alcohol. The movement called for moderation of alcohol and the reduction of public drug use.  Women wanted to take on this movement because temperance affected them due to the effect that men’s alcoholism had on women. If husbands drank too much, they could become violent and abusive towards their wives. This movement shed light  on the issue of wife beating or domestic violence. This movement was important because it was the first time where people recognized the effects of alcohol on people who don’t drink.

Lastly, the third social movement was the fight against slavery. The fight against slavery was arguably the mother of all movements. It was also the longest movement because slavery had existed in the South for centuries. This movement was fueled by the idea that slavery was a sin. To fight slavery, abolitionists had a three pronged approach – they tried to educate slave owners, publicize the inhumane treatment of female slaves and challenge men’s ideas of manliness. They tried to use education and persuasion to convince slave owners that slavery is immoral and cruel, and against God’s wishes but this didn’t work very well. In addition, they publicized the awful treatment of female slaves, including the conditions of pregnant slaves. Furthermore, women tried to get men to change their idea of manliness by selling the idea that men who beat women and slaves were not manly and that real manliness comes from restraint and discipline. Lastly, abolitionists would speak out by writing petitions and giving speeches, although they would often receive backlash that it wasn’t the woman’s place to do this. 

I could make connections to each of these approaches that abolitionists used. First, the idea that abolitionists tried to educate slave owners, reminded me of the opposing political sides today. In the modern era, we try to educate each other on different political viewpoints. For example, we engage in fierce debates about immigration and women’s rights. Second, the idea of manliness coming from restraints and discipline, reminded me of my father. He is not a man who is concerned with being tough and strong all the time; rather he believes a real man is humble, listens to the views of everyone, takes care of his family, and treats his wife well. My father also has great discipline and routine. Third, I am going to try to start a petition to create political change; knowing women had to do this while receiving backlash, made me inspired.

In all of these movements, there were some similarities. First, white women from New England led these movements. Second, the Second Great Awakening used religion to start this movement. Specifically, the Great Awakening participants were very progressive and helped with significant movements. 

We are mainly taught in primary school to think of the women’s rights movement as just a voting rights movement. However, as I discovered from this course, women fought for many rights outside of voting rights. We also tend to think that the women movement was a stand-alone movement. But, as this blog post explains, the women’s movement weaved together with other movements to create a web of change.

Photographing the Cover: Our Walk Around the Neighborhood

We decided to create a cover with entirely our own pictures! Using Adalia’s parents’ camera, we were able to get some really detailed photographs.

Though many gardens are still in the process of blooming, we got great pictures and several little “stories” to go along with it. In one place, we learned about the chickens (shown on the cover) and growing daffodils during springtime. We also saw more than 20 S. Pellegrino sparkling water bottles as a border for a garden. This was so neat to see!
Don’t forget to check out our vlog (coming soon) about our walk by going to our YouTube channel.

A Plant “Mom’s” Blog

By Virginia Bruce

Hi, I’m Virginia and I have lots of plants that I care for. This is a day in my life with my plants. Generally, I start off with opening my curtains to make sure that the plants get enough light. I don’t water my plants when it is still dark outside, because they need light to help them soak up the water. If water sits in the pot, or even on the leaves in some plant’s cases, it can cause rotting, specifically root rot. This can occur when the plant has fuzzy leaves like African Violets. This can kill your plant easily. That’s why it is important to only water when the soil feels dry and to get a pot that has a hole in the bottom to allow for drainage. After I open my curtains, it’s time to start school. After the first period, I go and let out my chickens in the backyard. While I’m outside, I like to check up on how the plants outside are doing. Some of the herbs in my tea garden are starting to get greener, and lots of things are getting buds on them to prepare for spring! After I let the chickens out and go back inside, it’s light enough where I can water some plants. I like to collect rain water outside and use that to water my plants, but you can also just use tap water. Some plants are sensitive to the chemicals in the tap water, so I like to set aside some water in an old milk jug for a few days to purify it a little. Then, I check all my plants to see which ones have dry soil. Some plants like succulents like to have dry soil, so I let them go a few days without water until I feel like their soil is starting to get dry. Other plants like Pileas or African Violets like to be watered right away. I also water my orchids once a week by soaking the bottom in a few inches of water. Once I water all the plants that need the water, I mist some of the plants in my house that like to be more moist. These include orchids and ferns. Once that is done, I’m pretty much finished with plant care for the day. On some days, I give my African Violets fertilizer to help them bloom, but since it has been winter I haven’t been giving it to them. I don’t do this everyday, but sometimes after school, I make my home-made tea from my garden! My favorite combination of herbs right now is lemon balm, rosemary, and chamomile. Sometimes, I add some rose hips for a little bit of sweetness. Most of my herbs are grown from my tea garden, but a few are from the arboretum near my house. I clip my herbs and dry them out by hanging them in the window.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my day with plants!


By Neel

Spring Artwork

By Mirabel

One day, when outside, Mirabel was noticing the way different colors matched up with her chalk. Using her creativity, she set up a design that brought together the man-made world and natural world!

Fun Facts

GMOs: Good or Bad?

We’ve all heard about GMOs…but do you know what they are?

Well, for starters, GMOs are genetically modified organisms. This generally means that part of the DNA or genes of one organism is put into another organism’s DNA so it has traits of the first organism…But a long time ago, GMOs were really just organisms that had been selectively bred to be bigger or better-looking. The best of a group of plants were bred together, while the others were left to the wayside. As a result, bigger and better plants and animals were produced. Did you know that corn several thousands of years ago was about as tall as a stalk of wheat? Well, that is a great example of something that has been selectively bred to grow much bigger than it started out. 

As GMOs have become more advanced and genetically involved, ethics has been brought into the argument. Is it right to change an organism from its original structure so that we humans can grow more food, etc? What will happen when scientists begin genetic experiments on humans? We, the consumers of these products, have the ability to change things by buying GMOs or refusing them.

In addition to ethics, several small studies have shown that GMOs could be related to several negative health effects and even cancer. On the other side of the spectrum, GMOs have allowed people with diabetes to get better, much more suitable insulin and farmers have been able to grow more crops than ever before.

In the end, our collective unawareness of what GMOs makes it hard for people to form real, educated opinions on them…But now that you know more, you get to decide: Are GMOs good or bad?

One Flower Too Many

Did you know that the sunflower is not just one flower? The brown inner section of the flower is made up of one THOUSAND to two thousand tiny flowers put together on one stalk!

The Plants Are Eavesdropping!!

Have you ever heard the old wives (or in this case: ‘gardener’s’) tale that plants have ears and can hear? Well, these ideas aren’t entirely false. Studies have been done that prove that sound vibrations, and especially music can affect and improve plant growth!

Making Tea with Your Own Plants

In Virginia’s article/blog about being a plant “mom”, she mentioned she has a tea garden and using herbs to make her tea. We thought this was really cool, so we decided to look into it more! Here are a couple important steps for making your very own tea:

  1. Choose a dry morning to harvest your herbal tea plants. This helps because the essential oils of the tea herb will be highest in concentration before the heat of the day draws them out.
  2. Once they are harvested, dry your herbal tea plants. You can do this in many ways but using an even heat is simplest. This can be done by placing a single layer of springs on a tray of a food dehydrator or a microwave lined with paper towels. Watch closely to avoid burning. 
  3. Once they are prepared, label them (you don’t want to forget which is which!) and store the herbs in airtight containers in a cool, dry place. 
  4. To brew your herbs and make tea, use one sprig (basically one stalk or a couple leaves) per person and ‘bruise’ by tearing or crushing to release the oils. Add this to a pot of boiling water. If you are using dried herbs, use about a teaspoon of herbs per person. An infuser or tea bag helps to contain the herbs. Steep for five to 15 minutes, strain (if you didn’t use a tea bag), fill a cup halfway with infusion and top with boiling water. 

Source: https://www.yates.com.au/ideas-plans/project-guides-articles/all/garden-trivia/

Raspberry Mint Lemonade

The brilliant red color of this raspberry lemonade will amaze you…and it’s all the raspberry, no food dye or any artificial color. Have fun making this simple delicious, yummy juice!

The Story: One day, Leeya and her brother were making lemonade and they looked in the fridge, and saw these mushy, squishy raspberries. They thought that since they were like goop, no one would eat them. But, it was still good for juice. It made great juice and that is how the recipe came along.

Ready in 15 minutes 

Serves 4 people 


  • ½ cup of raspberries 
  • 2 lemons 
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar 
  • 1 ½ cups of water 
  • handful of mint 


  1. Blend the raspberries, the juice of two lemons, and two tablespoons of sugar until it’s smooth like juice. 
  2. Strain the juice to rid the mixture of seeds.
  3. Put the juice mixture in a bowl, add water and the remaining sugar and stir. Once sugar is dissolved, transfer mixture to a pitcher. 
  4. Add ice and a handful of mint and you’re done! 
  5. Optional: Let it sit in the fridge for half an hour with the ice to chill it and let the flavors combine.


I like my lemonade a little tarter but add 1 more tablespoon of sugar if you want it sweeter. 

If you want the lemonade more diluted, then add ½ a cup more of water. 

Plant-related Tips

This recipe will taste even better fresh mint. Follow this guide to learn how to grow mint. When picking and growing it: 

  1. Make sure to grow your mint in a pot! It is a perennial, invasive species which means it will come back every year.
  2. When picking your mint, make sure to pick some of the stalk but not all the way to the root, or your mint won’t grow back.
  3. Lastly, make sure to wash your leaves. All plants have a little residue or dirt, etc. on them. Before eating, make sure to take the leaves off of the stem because the stem is no fun to eat!

Making the Most of Your Garden and Yourself

By Patrick Faulkner

The love of gardening was given to me by my parents and grandparents in Arkansas. I learned how they planted different seeds and plants in their garden that they raised every year. These different gardens were mainly used as a means of producing food for our family. As a youngster, I would be given the task of making the holes for seeds to be planted by them and when I got older this seed planting became my task. These experiences helped me cultivate the love of gardening. I then took this appreciation and love of gardening on to high school where I began to receive instruction through what was then called vocational education. 

While taking vocational education courses, I soon began to focus on learning more about agriculture education. This led me to a path of learning how to plant such things as tomato and pepper plants in a larger scale greenhouse. These experiences have led me to finish high school and enroll at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and majoring in agriculture. 

As I fast forward to what I am teaching now at Ligon Middle School, I have had the opportunity to impart that knowledge and show students at Ligon Middle School the love of gardening and how to make the most out of the garden at Ligon and at my student’s various gardens at their homes. One of the first tips or suggestions to a student who’s looking to get into gardening, I tell them about the local extension service who offers free soil sample test kits. With these kits, the person who wants to garden will probe around their yard or land putting the sample soil in boxes and take the soil kits to the lab where the soil will be tested to see if their soil is lacking nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium to be analyzed. This free analyzing period is only during a certain period of the year. This free submission analyzing period is from April 1 through late November this sample can be taken to the Extension office. Located at 4001 Carya Drive, in Raleigh. There are other countries that have extension service offices. Now, having the soil analyses done, I teach students to then focus on the process.

When the student is in my class, they realize that in order to have a thriving and abundant garden harvest, they need to have a process in place to take care of their plants through making sure they select the right area for their garden with sufficient sunlight and water. So, here are some pointers of selecting the right sunlight and water for your site in your garden. Many vegetables, whether seeds or transplants need direct sunlight of eight hours these plants include: tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. Then, there are plants that are grown for leaves such as spinach, beets, chard, radish, and lettuce can grow in as little as six hours of sunlight, but you must factor in having a water source that is sufficient and practical for your garden choice. Water is certainly important to consider in choosing where to locate your garden. You don’t want to have a traditional garden that is far away for a watering source, then you will have to carry water potentially a long way for the plants not to die because of the heat and sunlight. Next, my students consider if they want to grow a garden in either a traditional, raised bed or container garden, considering the space that they have. This will determine generally what seeds or plants they will purchase for a local nursery or garden center like Logan’s downtown Raleigh. I have them to think about what’s the most effective and appropriate garden to have at their homes? A raised bed, container garden, or if they have a lot of land, they can do a traditional garden. Many students live in an urban environment and they should adjust and pivot to whichever garden that might work for their family. 

So, gardening has inspired me as a teacher to give back that which was given to me. Through my parents, grandparents, and teachers, this has led to a lifelong gardening is more than a mere hobby – but it could prove valuable to provide you and your family with fresh vegetables that will improve your health and most of all teaching students where their food comes from is always a plus.

The Agricultural Revolution

By Rob Craig

This is based on lectures 2 and 3 of The Great Courses series on Ancient Mesopotamia by Professor Amanda H. Podany.

A common assumption is that agriculture offers a much better way of life compared to searching for edible plants and hunting. Once people conceived the idea, they would immediately switch to the new and obviously better way of producing food. Archeology, genetic studies of plants and domesticated animals, and studies of hunter-gatherer societies today indicate it was actually a gradual process.

About 14,500 years ago, ice sheets over the Northern hemisphere were retreating and the climate was warming. Some fortunate hunter-gatherer groups in the Jordan River Valley and the South Central region of what is now Turkey found areas with large meadows of edible grain plants, plus abundant game.

These folks stopped roaming and built homes: one room circular huts, in small clusters. In their minds, they were not making a big change, they continued to hunt and they gathered the abundant nearby grain. Staying in one place enabled them to store surplus grain, protect it from predators, and avoid lugging around heavy stone implements for grinding the grain. An unintended consequence was that mothers did not have to carry infants on long distance wandering, so they could have the next child sooner. Population increased.

Each generation did pretty much what their parents did. They did not think of themselves as part of a revolution. But over time things changed. People noticed seeds were needed to germinate for the next year, so some seeds were deliberately left on the ground, and seeds with the best characteristics may have been chosen. Animals that were hunted, thinned out in the vicinity of the settlements. Some animals were domesticated and the best ones allowed to breed.

Studies of seed and animal genomes show that over about three millennia there were genetic changes due to human selection. Plants and animals were optimized for human benefit, but eventually neither the plants nor the domesticated animals were able to survive in the wild. They depended on human husbandry for the success of each generation.

Over many generations, people got used to staying in one place, and became dependent on the limited number of plant species that grew there. Various kinds of stress (weather, climate change, overpopulation, environmental degradation…) forced them to get serious about insuring their food supply. People found they had to do more than simply gather seeds from wild grains or other plants. In addition to scattering seeds for the next year, they might till the soil to help seeds take root, to pull weeds, and in dry years even to irrigate. After many generations, they were farmers and they had to work hard.

Writing Contest LiveStream

Check out the Writing Contest LiveStream and results from our Saturday, March the 20th YouTube livestream at 2:00 pm! Go to youtu.be/mFWbyiz6QQI. We celebrated Adalia’s birthday, did some fun activities, and announced the winners of the writing contest plus a special award! Read further for the first place winning submission.

Additionally, if you would like to read all of the submissions go to aandlmagazine.com/interactive-items for the anthology we put together.


by Lumina Kemp

New Mexico is such a big state. Bigger than whole countries! The road ahead of me stretches on for miles, and I can see far enough to know I won’t be passing anyone anytime soon. I haven’t passed anyone in hours already. Out here it’s just me, and my car, and all my earthly possessions. My cell phone has no reception and with the land stretching out forever in every direction, I wonder if something were to happen to me how long it would take for anyone to notice. My car could run out of gas. Or it could break down. Neither of these would surprise me. I had been told by a mechanic before setting out from Arizona that the transmission was not up to scratch. I can feel my little Penelope chugging along like the little engine that could, especially going uphill. I had to speed down the backside of one hill and pray I would make it to the top of the next, peddle to the floor, struggling to stay at least 30mph on a 75mph highway.

The extra weight was an issue. The car was meticulously packed. Like a 3D Tetris game. Most of what I owned then is the same as now. Books. Lots and lots of books. And rocks. Living in Tucson for two years had given me plenty of time to satisfy my long-held love for making jewellery and collecting semi-precious stones. Also packed into my exhausted car was all of my sewing supplies, journals and artwork, camping kit and music collection. I was moving back to Ohio. A woodland creature at heart, I was never going to be able to stay in the desert forever. It was an excuse, but not the truth. The truth was that I was running away. Not from the law or from dodgy debt collectors. But from another relationship that wasn’t going anywhere. I knew he wouldn’t follow me this time. The west coast was in his blood. Crickets and fireflies in mine. 

My friend James had helped me pack. He didn’t own a cell phone, but always had a way of magically appearing when I needed advice. He couldn’t help but laugh at the way I was strapping what wouldn’t fit in the car onto the roof: boxes, bags and a sewing machine that probably wouldn’t make it down the road let alone across the country. We took it all down and he showed me how to secure it piece by piece. Dozens of bungee cords and tarps later, it was pretty set to go. We chatted on the porch, admiring our work. He asked me about my route. I told him how I planned to meander my way across the belly of the States, taking one, maybe two weeks to get back to Wooster. I wanted to stop off at National Parks to hike and camp. The last few times I had traversed the country this is how we rolled. James was worried. Because this time there was no “we”. I would be alone. Without a boyfriend, a comrade, or a dog. I told him I had a pocket knife and a strong belief that I was a “child of the universe”. This only worried him further. He warned me from stopping to rest at truck stops and showed me the basics of self-defense. “Aim for the center – eyes, nose, throat, groin.” We practiced a few moves together. I was going to miss James. He was like that really cool uncle I never had. Full of stories and adventure and advice. But this advice scared me. I hadn’t thought to be afraid before. But now, all alone in the middle of New Mexico I felt vulnerable and ill prepared. It was going to get dark soon and this road didn’t show any signs of ending. 

“New Mexico is a biiiiig state” I said into my mini MP3 player that also had a recording function. Finally, I saw a sign for a campsite and pulled over. I had all of my camping supplies in easy access. I had also packed a cooler with a 2-litre bottle of espresso and a selection of homemade ready meals that I could eat cold. Setting up my four-person tent in the wide-open desert I felt so small. Less than 10 hours into my trip and I was exhausted. Without a co-pilot I had no one to keep me company and I still didn’t have any cell reception. There was no soil here to stake my tent into. Only small stones like gravel covering vast sheets of rock that had been used to mark the individual campsites. My tent poles moved around in the wind, making a sound like someone walking right by where I lay. I curled up in my sleeping bag clenching my pocket knife and tried to sleep. But the espresso I had been drinking to stay alert on the road was mixed with the worry that James had planted inside of me had me getting up to peer out of the tent to see if someone was there. Only the wind. Only my tent poles scraping against the barren landscape. This went on for what felt like hours. I knew I would never sleep here. Before dawn, I tore down my tent-not bothering to roll in up properly-just shoved it back in my car and kept driving. I drank more espresso and talked to myself via my MP3 recorder. I listened to the mixtapes I had made for the journey and prayed that I’d make it out of New Mexico alive. 

By the time I reached Oklahoma, it was midday. I stopped at a campsite I had been to before, hopeful that I was exhausted enough to take a nap. I set up my tent and stretched out inside with the front flap open. But it was too hot and sunny. Even though I had driven hour after hour, my body was still on full alert and sleep was nowhere in sight. I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to have the adventure I thought I would have. I wasn’t going to “find myself,” or talk with fellow travellers. I wouldn’t be picking up any hitchhikers or sleeping peacefully under a bed of stars. Defeated, I rolled up my tent and set off again. At least the states left between me and home were smaller and more satisfying to get through. One after another, they rolled past my view. I laughed at the billboards in the bible belt that competed for your attention to advertise casinos, guns, porn, and Jesus. I knew I was getting closer now to my roots.

Somewhere in Illinois, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to go any further without some rest. I was counting exits. Just one more, then I’ll stop. One more. Just after this next one. Finally, as darkness began to fall, I pulled into a Motel 6, bought some orange juice, and slept for eight solid hours. No dreams, no worries. I was safe behind locked doors to just sleep. I woke up the next morning and drove and drove and drove. It took me 52 hours to make the 2,000-mile journey to the house I had grown up in. No more looking out at horizons that never seemed to end. The air was full here. The land: busy, soft and fertile. Set within the woods among lush, rolling hills and fields of corn and soy. I was home. I had made it in one piece. Mama was there to greet me. She was the most beautiful sight my weary eyes had ever seen.