Nature’s classroom: blow bubbles with flowers

cross vine, spring bloomer

At breakfast, we looked out the window and discovered that the wild crossvine had bloomed (Bignonia capreolata). Every spring it crawls up through the evil winter creeper (a euonymous that would encase the house if I let it) and over the redneck wire fence that divides our property from the neighbors’.  We abandoned our gluten-free, Marmite-covered toast and ran outside to see it.

pluck one blossom, pull stem straight off

Crossvine is a wonder of a plant.  It’s native, it’s gorgeous, the leaves are evergreen, and the trumpet-shaped blossoms are hummingbird magnets.  And, it is very well-behaved for a sprawler. The vine climbs by polite tendrils that do not suck the mortar from your bricks nor the paint from your clapboard.  If it is discovered growing somewhere it oughtn’t be, it will allow itself to be gently plucked away.  Compare this with English ivy or Virginia Creeper and you will understand why I use the word polite.

dip in bubble liquid

We admired the blooms, took some pictures, and then picked a few to use as bubble pipes.  The wide end—like a trumpet bell—is the part you stick into bubble liquid.  The other end is the mouthpiece.  Just pull the stem straight out, and the resulting hole is the perfect aperture. Dip in bubble stuff (dish soap, water, glycerin), just enough to make a film over the wide end, and blow.  Bubble pipe.

This is a Jewish blog, so where’s the Jewish in a flower bubble pipe?

blow bubbles!

Honestly, when we did this, I did not have anything particularly Jewish in mind.  We were just having fun before school.

But, anything outdoorsy can be framed Jewishly.  Here’s what we did, and you tell me how it may be framed thus:

We paused mid-fray to observe nature.  We appreciated something seasonal, something that was not there only the day before.  We took only the blooms we needed and left the rest.  We talked about the shape of the bloom and the shape of a hummingbird beak, and how the two fit together so well.  We talked about how hungry the hummingbirds will be when they fly here from the south.

In the past 2 weeks, the natural world around us, right in our faces, has utterly changed, and we don’t want to miss a thing. We want to touch the Spring, smell it, taste it, see it, hear it, and to pay attention to how different things might be interconnected.  Isn’t that Jewish?  Most of our holidays are rooted in agricultural cycles, including Pesach.  We can prepare for Passover not just by cleaning and cooking and studying and making, but by being in the Spring.

Happy Spring, and a zissen (sweet) Pesach!

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What’s in a Name: Cross Vine
I’ve decided to imagine the cross vine is called a cross vine because it so handily crosses anything in its path: it will climb a tree or travel down a fence line.  But the real reason it’s called a cross vine is hidden inside the stem. If you make a “cross-section,” you’ll see a teeny tiny cross shape in the pith, with the negative space.  Some people say it’s a Greek Cross.  These people must be using strong magnification, because I can hardly see any shape at all. I notice the blossoms are always around during Easter-time, so my theory is that they are named for another Cross, but I can’t find the evidence online or in my wildflower books.  No matter.  I can appropriate any Easter plant for my own purposes anytime.

Trumpet Vine Bubble Blowers:
If you live in a plant hardiness zone remotely similar to mine (in Nashville), you have a second chance to make bubble pipes from flowers about the same size and shape.  Later in the summer will bloom the trumpet creeper, Campsis radican.  As a vine, it is not as politely behaved, but as a bubble blower it is just as good.  (Technically, trumpet creeper flowers can produce mild contact dermatitis, but I’ve never experienced this, and my skin is hyper-sensitive to every damn thing.)

Homemade Bubble Liquid:  I found this friendly site with lots of recipes.

4 responses to “Nature’s classroom: blow bubbles with flowers

  1. Amen! My Facebook post today, too, is about honoring our connection to the land. When our girls were young, we saw wonderful sunsets out the kitchen window. We’d pause from cooking dinner at 5-minute intervals and describe how the colors changed so subtly, taking us from late afternoon into early evening. Thanks for sharing your morning adventure.

    • What a lovely memory. Dinner time is my witching hour, so I doubt I’d have the presence of mind or the patience to pause for a nature break at that point. At 5:00am, I am on FIRE.
      Thanks for the tip about Wilderness Torah, by the way. Earth-based Judaism. Yes.

  2. I like this bubble recipe: as you just use 15 parts water and 1 part detergent and we just used our Seventh Generation dish soap (not the stuff for the dishwasher, but the stuff at the sink) and a teaspoon so we didn’t wind up with too much bubble liquid at once. A lot of other recipes require sugar or glycerin, so this is an easy one to do with what you already have at home, most likely. It makes decent bubbles as well.

    We too are enjoying the spring blooms, although this wacky weather here up no’th has everything coming up way too early. Our favorites right now are the redbud tree and serviceberry bush in our front yard. Happy Pesach!

    • I am so pleased to see you here, and thank you for the recipe. You’re right, most folks don’t have a bottle of glycerin in the pantry. I do, because we play with those giant “Bubble Things” by Klutz, which require a bucket, literally, of bubble liquid per use. We love bubbles.
      Our redbud has leafed already, but it’s nice to know you and I are looking at the same tree in our yards.
      Happy Pesach to you and the family!