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A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

Last week, we reflected upon our creative accomplishments by using mirrors, exploring how they can transform our perceptions and encourage us to make time for creative play. What did you see when you gazed deeply into a found reflective surface? What did you do to move beyond the selfie and into a space that celebrates the self? Did you use a mirror to capture the past, present, and future in a single shareable moment? Were the dance moves you invented ready for a TikTok challenge, or are you perfectly happy to keep dancing with yourself? No matter how you chose to spend those minutes of creative focus, I bet you learned a little about yourself that you didn’t know before.

This week’s creative nudge is also designed to help us learn a little while being creative, too. I make outdoor assemblage art in open spaces, and one of the things I deal with all the time is weeds. Choosing which weeds live and which ones die in my open studios affects how my art is perceived. Related, when working outdoors this time of year, I spend about 20% of my creative energy weeding and gardening! I think you will agree that weeds are underappreciated things deserving our attention.

Weeds are everywhere. They pop up in our gardens, along roadsides, and in manicured lawns, often seen as unwelcome intruders. However, these resilient plants have much to offer. They signal changes in the seasons, provide food for pollinators, and sometimes even find their way into our own kitchens and medicine cabinets. This week, let’s explore the creative potential of weeds, using our senses to experience them not just as nuisances but as sources of beautiful resilience.

  1. A Weed for Feed: Collect a variety of weeds, then use a plant identification app or consult a knowledgeable friend to determine which ones are edible. Research their uses, or even create a small meal or brew a cup of tea for your gatherings. Reflect on how these often-disregarded plants can actually provide nourishment.
  2. Weed Pressing: Collect different types of weeds and press them to create beautiful, intricate designs. Arrange your pressed weeds into a framed collection or create unique greeting cards to share with friends.
  3. Weeds Gone Wild: Use your camera to capture images of weeds thriving in unlikely places—breaking through walls, climbing up trees, or flourishing in abandoned parking lots. Create a photo series or a collage that celebrates the tenacity of these plants.
  4. From Seed to Weed, Indeed: Write a story from the perspective of a weed seed drifting across the breeze to find a new home. Describe its journey, the obstacles it faces, and the place it eventually roots itself.

As we make time to wander into the weeds a little bit, let's expand our definition of the word and appreciate their full value and purpose in the natural world. Weeds remind us that beauty and utility can be found in unexpected places and that no matter how hard people try to stop them, weeds always return. They don’t give up, and they definitely reject all efforts to eradicate them. By incorporating weeds into our creative practices, perhaps our creative energies can be just as easily sustained in the face of any challenge.

Feel free to share your weeed-inspired creations on social media and tag me @larrymarkburns or this paper, @theraincrossgazette. We’d love to see how you turn these unwelcome interlopers into desirable aspects of our environment. Your contributions not only enrich our collective creative journey but remind us of all the good things growing out there waiting to be discovered by you.

This column written with the help of a customized GPT from OpenAI. If I can make one, so can you!