Wild Violets
Wild Violets

By Molly Butler

Our yard is full of blooms.

The crab apple trees are full and pink, there are a couple purple tulips by the deck, and our untreated lawn is full of pollinators; dandelions, creeping Charlie, and delicate wild violets, my favorite flower. In the hillsides and ravines, I’ve found a few dozen Morel mushrooms during their short season, as well as the tender leaves of ramps; delicious like onions and garlic.

Inside, hidden in the office where the cats can’t get at them, is a shelf of sprouting seeds and baby plants taking off under the grow lights. But as my dad and I just discussed, there’s not a ton of benefit to starting seeds early. In the right conditions, all the seeds catch up to each other. Soon, we’ll start planting our first garden at our home.

The other day I was inspecting the garden we started last year at my in-laws. I always admire the beautifully manicured, maintained, organized lawns of my master gardener friends. I’m in awe of the way they can manage nature so tidily. But I am not a master gardener; not even close. My gardens get overgrown, plants cross-pollinate in unexpected ways, and nature takes its course. I end up with melons where I planted cucumbers, and squash that grow right out of their territory, spilling over the garden walls. My gardens are chaotic and wild. I find it delightful.

I’m in awe of the way they can manage nature so tidily. But I am not a master gardener; not even close. My gardens get overgrown, plants cross-pollinate in unexpected ways, and nature takes its course.

As I poked around in the weedy remains of last year, between the dandelions and milkweed that have moved into the garden bed, I found the survivors from last year. Massive chives. A kale plant. Onions upon onions. And beneath a carpet of creeping Charlie, dozens of little lettuce plants that had seeded. With a little weeding, watering, attention, the garden will be ready for a new season. It’s halfway planted itself.

Plants are always teaching us something. Right now, I’m taking in the lesson of ease. I didn’t plant those onions or lettuce, and no one helped the morel mushrooms rise from the leaves on the forest floor. No one helped our dandelions come and replenish our soil’s calcium and break up hard soil with their deep roots; no one planted all those lovely wild violets. Working with nature, we find ease. When we provide the right conditions, the work does itself.

Relax, be good, and trust the work is being done inside of you. Friends, have a wonderful weekend!


Canvas Church of Mankato will host their 4th annual garage sale and fundraiser this Friday from 8am through 5pm. There will be household goods, clothing for all ages, toys, and more. The money raised will go towards sending youth to summer camp at Lake Geneva Christian Center.

The North Mankato Taylor Library is ready with their May crafts! Adults can make DIY Farmhouse Trays. Just $10 gets you materials and a design, and this Saturday is the last day to pick up. Call or stop by the library or register online.

Head to the 410 Project in Mankato for reception of The Distance Between Us, a collection of drawings and collages by artist, Russ White. The reception will be from 7-9pm and White’s exhibition will be on display through May 30th. This exhibition looks so interesting. I’m a fan of collage so I can’t wait to swing by.

It’s Class Car & Bike Night at the Blue Moon Bar and Grill in Kasota. Every Friday the Blue Moon will hold $1 meat raffles where you can win packages of meat from Schmidt’s Meat Market! There are also weekly door prizes and you can also sign up to win the year-end grand prize! Come enjoy the classic vehicles and get in your chance to win.

Catch some tunes! Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery is continuing their unWINEd Music Series with Vinnie Rose, who will play from 4:30-8:45pm Friday and take the stage again at noon on Saturday. Vinnie Rose has four original albums as well as a huge selection of covers. Relax and unwind at this FREE event. You can also catch High Strung playing acoustic twists on familiar tunes at Indian Island Winery from 6-8:30pm, or Kaleb Braun-Schulz playing at the Circle Inn on Belgrade from 5-8pm.


Spring out of bed and into action! Fit and Grit Training is continuing their Spring into Fitness series with yet another 45-minute full body bootcamp, customized to all fitness levels. Register online and head to Sibley Park in Mankato to get moving. Classes are $10 each and cash is accepted on-site. Interested in a more relaxed way to get your steps in? The New Ulm Country Club is hosting Birdies & Brews with Caleb. Get a quick lesson while enjoying a drink from the Cottonwood Grill, all for just $25. Call (507) 354-8896 to sign up.

Enjoy a beautiful day of outdoor shopping! It is opening day of the Madison Lake Farmer’s Market! Head to Lindburgh Park at 9am to check out their early season selections. Then, Chankaska Creek Winery’s Toast to Women is back! Head to the Ranch and Winery from 11am to 5:45pm to shop local vendors, sip award-winning wine, and check out their Event Center! Tickets are available online, with VIP ad general admission options. Due to Covid restrictions, they are limiting tickets, so get yours now!

Jeep owners join the worldwide 14th annual Go Topless Day! The Mankato Jeep run will go from noon to 2pm, starting at the Ness Farm 5 miles west of Mankato, stopping at the Hub Food Park on Riverfront for lunch, and ending with a scenic drive through the Minneopa State Park to see the buffalo and explore the waterfall. This run is raising funds for Mission 22, a charity dedicated to healing veterans. Extreme Terrain is generously matching their donation if they hit their goal of raising $500, so make sure to show your support. Donations are accepted in cash or via Venmo.

As always, southern Minnesota is delivering great live music for your Saturday night out. Catch Chris Bertrand at the Circle Inn in Mankato, 4-6pm. Indian Island Winery will host Barn Boys, performing classic and modern country music, starting at 5:30pm. Starting at 7pm Don Scott & Roseanne will be at the Blue Boat, and the Prairie Saloon & Grill in Kasota will host Rook.


Madison Lake’s Citywide garage sale is this Sunday! Check out the listings here, including participating addresses, hours, and items.

The St. Peter American Legion Post #37 will have an Omelette Feed + Kids All You Can Eat Pancakes from 9am through 1pm for only $5. Come hungry!

Altantis Hobby in Mankato is your one stop shop for all your table game and aquarium needs. Play $6 entry Yu-Gi-Oh from 11am to 3pm with prizes and giveaways, then stick around for their first ever Digimon event, 1-5pm. Again, $6 entry, and they’ll give out prizes and packs for support and entry.

Bonus: Ease, not neglect

While I’m all for working with nature, we can’t trust her to cure all our problems. We need to be stewards of the earth. That’s why we need mindful practices.

  • Watch your soil for signs of jumping worms, like dirt that looks like coffee grounds, or thrashing worms, and make sure to brush mud from shoes to avoid tracking contaminated soil
  • Rinse watercraft when moving from lake to lake to avoid spreading invasive species
  • Be mindful when foraging; understand the life cycles of the species you harvest, only take from abundance, and leave the root systems of ramps as they are slow to establish and are easily foraged to extinction.
  • Think about your lawn’s relationship with the natural world and consider actions like composting, planting a pollinator garden, or reducing reliance on chemical treatments.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.