It’s Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer. As promised, I’m going to focus on some “F” topics that are “A+” in my life. A couple of weeks ago, I teased you with promises of posts on friendship, feasts and fiction. I want to add another “F” to the summer list — film. And all of these fit neatly into the one-word prompt offered by Five-Minute Friday this week — culture.

One definition of the word that intrigues me is found at live science.com: “Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. … The word culture derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin colere, which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture.” (Attributed to Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London)

It’s finally Spring in our valley and we’re planting a few trees — practicing colere, if you will. We chose two beautiful pink dogwoods to frame an outdoor altar for our son’s recent wedding ceremony. He and his lovely bride recited their vows on the bank of our spring-fed pond. The dogwoods, still in their pots, marked the spot. This weekend, we’ll set them into their permanent home near the log cabin that sits at one end of the pond.

We also chose a beautiful river birch. I’ve wanted one for years and learned that they thrive near water. Our sapling has three trunks, which the plant guy says will encourage the bark to turn white, part of the reason I love this tree. It’s going in a spot between the creek and pond, right where I can keep an eye on it from our kitchen window.

Culture, to me, is comprised of those elements in our lives that give it meaning and define us. Things like family weddings and tending to your physical surroundings. All the things that bring joy and challenges and that contribute to our identity are part of our personal “culture.” Cultivating culture in the space where we’ve been planted is the best “thank you” we can offer to the One who put us here. Sharing and appreciating the culture of other human beings is how we can honor them.

I wrote for five quick minutes today on the one-word prompt “culture”. Join me and other bloggers at Five Minute Friday for more essays.

I think you’ll love this Quinoa Salad…

Quinoa Salad

One of my summer pledges is to prepare healthful, tasty meals for my husband and son and for any folks who join us to feast at the table. One of our favorite light side dishes is Quinoa Salad. The original recipe was given to me by my sister-in-law. It’s fresh, colorful and pretty darn healthy. Here’s how I like to make it:

Prepare one cup of quinoa (a grain related to spinach) and let it cool. Chop your choice of fresh veggies. We like cucumber, tomatoes, red peppers, scallions, cilantro and avocado. In this dish, I added radishes because I had some on hand and they add a nice “bite”, and tossed in about 1 cup of black beans to ramp up the protein. Often, I’ll add goat cheese or feta cheese, if I have it on hand. Adjust the veggies to a ratio that is pleasing to YOU. Toss with the juice of one lime and a generous drizzle of olive oil. We also like at least one clove of crushed garlic in the mix. Season with salt and pepper. The beautiful thing about this dish is that it tastes better the second day. So, leftovers are a good thing. Enjoy!

…and The Biggest Little Farm

Our youngest son graduated from Watkins College of Art, Design and Film in Nashville, Tennessee recently with a degree in film-making. After the ceremony, we celebrated by catching The Biggest Little Farm at Belcourt Theater in Nashville. A brief description from the Belcourt website calls it “a testament to the immense complexity of nature.” I call it stunning and inspiring. Whatever films our son makes in the future, I can only hope they are as fine as this one. John and Molly Chester chronicled eight years of life on their 200-acre farm in California. Incredible photography and real-life drama will both keep you on the edge of your seats and relax you into a lifestyle you never knew you wanted. See this film!

And finally, an invitation

If you’re wondering about the cups pictured above, they are a visual representation of me. Subscribe to this blog (below or at the top) and let me explain. As a subscriber, you’ll receive the May edition of Slice of Life Notes, my monthly newsletter that’s a personal note from me to you. From time-to-time (like this month), I’ll include bonus give-aways just for subscribers. So, if you’re dropping by from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, make it official. I promise not to inundate you with e-mails and I vow to make it worth your time.