The first of many to come.
It began like many of my essays, with a question. Since I am a gardener and native plant aficionado, people often ask: “what’s wrong with non-native plants moving in, the bees seem to like them?” That is a heavy question with many possible responses. It is not easy to answer in conversation because it is often hard to hold someone’s attention while trying verbally explain all the nuance of an ecosystem.
Another discussion that is active in Alaska is the question of colonization. While is it mostly discussed in the context of human sociological terms, I thought why not apply it in botanical terms? After all, as the climate warms, the polar regions are most affected by temperature change which is changing the vegetative landscape. When a call came out for presenters at the 2019 UAA English Department Pacific Rim Conference titled “Reframing Colonialism,” I took the opportunity to write my invasive plant story.
For this reading and essay, I imagined life from the perspective of a native plant. I figured if I could put the listener, or reader in that position, they might better understand why native plants are important; and what purpose they serve in the zones where they live. My reading was met with a positive response and an invitation to submit the essay, “Our Dandelions Aren’t Bullies” to Alaska Women Speak magazine.
“Our Dandelions Aren’t Bullies” is written from the position of a native orchid. The essay shows the effect of invasive European dandelions on the life cycle of a lady slipper orchid, the orchid’s importance to native insects, and the difference between native and alien dandelions. The essay is short—1000 words, engaging, and lively.
Though it was published in last summer’s issue, you can get digital subscriptions, mail subscriptions, and donate to support this creative nonprofit literary journal: https://alaskawomenspeak.org/
Thank you Alaska Women Speak for your existence and support of Alaska writers!