Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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Chirping With a Cardinal

Spring is about to bloom this Sunday and all the little critters outside are feeling quite frisky about it. Squirrels are chasing each other scurrying up trees, the first robin hopped into view the other day on my nature hike, and a bright, red cardinal flew across my path to alight on a tree branch directly diagonal from me. Staring at his brilliance a moment as we regarded each other, I decided to try and communicate with him. I attempted a few series of whistles that I remembered being close to a cardinal bird call. After a few tries, he trilled back loud and clear. I answered him, mimicking back the chirp as loudly and accurately as I could muster. We went back and forth like this for a full five minutes, much to my delight. I probably would have stayed on longer, but the park gate was set to close at 3 p.m. and I didn't want to get shut out to the quicker path back to my residence. He continued to trill happily after me, after I bade him goodbye. I gave a few extra return calls over my shoulder in appreciation. When I looked back, I noticed that he had hopped up to a higher branch to see me and stay parallel from me as I left. I know that they say that birds can be souls of departed loved ones come to visit, and I couldn't help but feel that special connection with our exchange. My grandmother's favorite bird was the cardinal, and my birthday is next week. She used to love St. Patrick's Day and celebrating her Irish heritage, so I definitely think something divine was at work, here. Even if it was a male bird, I don't think the spirits worry much about gender. It filled my heart with joy as I walked back home.

Ren Faires and the Spring Equinox

My Spring Equinox guest for "Women Who Howl at the Moon" this month is Melissa Starks. She sometimes goes by the moniker "Mistress Penny" and has even hosted a sauerkraut eating contest at one of the faires! She has had quite an interesting journey as a "road renny," stockbroker, substitute teacher, and chainmail jewelry maker. (Peruse her handmade designs at You can hear all about her adventures on my SoundCloud page. Think about the new things you'd like to coax into springing forth on your own journey. What can you make bloom?

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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work has been featured in her new blog, Off The Beaten Path for the Shepherd Express online (, and the Wisconsin Life radio show for WPR. She recently adopted a little grey and white cat named Tessa, after beloved 22-year-old Bootise passed on.


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