Bare Ground

By Molly Butler

It’s just a minute too early to start planting outside.

I am an amateur gardener; everything I put in the ground still feels uncertain. I don’t know what will thrive, what will fail. Looking over the empty garden plot, the empty trees, this empty, murky season, I want answers. I want to fill it in. Looking at all the emptiness can give me a touch of anxiety; why? I want to act, to add, to get something tangible to appear.

We can be so uncomfortable with emptiness. We are trained for productivity, utility and growth. So, we fill in everything: silences, shelves, schedules. We fill our days with phones and podcasts and opinions and meetings and entertainment and distraction and assumptions. We see a headline and fill in the story, form our opinions without hard facts, and why? Because sitting with the unknown is hard. Saying, “I don’t know,” doesn’t feel good enough. But often, it is the right answer.

Time intentionally spent on not doing, or space intentionally left empty, is never wasted.

Living with emptiness is a challenge. It involves being present. Being content. Being calm. Being open. Try meditating for the first time (maybe in a long time, maybe ever), and feel the way fingers twitch, backs ache and discomfort settles in for seemingly no reason. The nothingness is unfamiliar. The emptiness is strange.

I’m all for using time, space and energy wisely. I think it takes wisdom to make room for emptiness. Those fasting or abstaining know and feel its purpose. Emptiness is not a placeholder for opportunities. It is the connection to everything. It works and exists in its own right. Time intentionally spent on not doing, or space intentionally left empty, is never wasted.

Here are some wonderful ways to spend your weekend, but it’s okay if you do a little bit of nothing instead.


Stop by the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to participate in Family Friday! Create a collaborative art project, with each guest creating a piece of art to display. Carolyn Becker, the master gardener, will be at VINE from 1-2 p.m. teaching Gardening 101. This discussion of general principles and handy references is FREE for VINE members, $5 for the public. Portraits from the Margins: Prints and Paintings of Arab American Women will be on display at the 410 Project from 2-6 p.m.

The Wendt Sisters will be performing a variety of tunes from the ‘50s to ‘90s from 6-8:30 p.m. at Indian Island Winery. Billy Johnson will be at Chankaska Creek to help you unWINED from 6-8:45 p.m. The WOW! Zone will host Bullypulpit Bluegrass from 6-9 p.m., and B&B Karaoke will be at the Oleander Saloon starting at 8 p.m.

The North Mankato Taylor Library will host a Starwatch Party! Retired WCCO Radio Meteorologist Mike Lynch will be on-site with his work and a large telescope to scope out planets, galaxies and other great celestial treasures. Even if it’s cloudy, you’re sure to learn a lot!


Let’s explore! Children ages five and under are invited to join the annual Easter Egg Hunt at the North Mankato Taylor Library from 9-11 a.m. Register in person or by calling the library. Head to Indian Island Winery at noon for their Paint and Sip session! For $30 per painter, select a canvas or tote bag to decorate as you enjoy delicious wine and create your usable masterpiece. Meet at Minneopa State Park this Saturday from 1-2 p.m. for a Spring Wildflower Hike! Spot blooms, Prairie Smoke and Golden Alexander! Meet at the Picnic Shelter on the Waterfalls Area to join in.

The Southern Minnesota Poets Society will meet at the Curosi-Tea House in North Mankato for tea, pastries, and of course, poetry. Students from MSU-Mankato’s World Literature course will be sharing their original work. RSVP on the SMPS Facebook to join in.

Mankato Brewery will host Loose Gravel from 5-8 p.m., and Angel Val will be performing from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Indian Island Winery. Nick Hensley will perform 6-8:45 p.m. at Chankaska Creek, and Matt & Laurel will play the Circle Inn from 6-9 p.m. Catch the Tri-Eight performing classic and modern rock starting at 8 p.m. at Prairie Saloon & Grill in Kasota, and the Sohmer Solo Acoustic Show from 8-10 p.m. at the Blue Moon Bar and Grill.


Chankaska Creek Winery invites you to attend their open house this Sunday from 1-3 p.m. Check out their event center, perfect for weddings, and meet local vendors! The Gustavus Dance Company invites you to “To Love the World Harder,” performing 2-4 p.m. at the Rob and Judy Gardner Laboratory Theatre in St. Peter. While you’re in town, Patrick’s on Third in St. Peter invites you to their Sunday Music Series, featuring Adam Moe. The Duluth-based fiddler and singer/songwriter will be performing from 4-7 p.m.

Added Value: Emptiness Lesson

Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh had much more wisdom about emptiness than I can share. Check out a short but amazing teaching on emptiness here.


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.