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Pandemic projects: Avid gardener creates, shares ‘bucket lists’ as reminders to appreciate the little things

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 18, 2021

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

If your bucket list includes a trip to an exotic locale, or seeing a favorite band in concert, chances are you weren’t able to check those off this year.

But Nine Mile Falls resident Diane Morissette derived satisfaction from completing smaller goals, easily achievable even in the midst of a pandemic, and she thought her friends and neighbors might enjoy that feeling, too.

When the avid gardener first saw an enlarged image of the coronavirus, she didn’t see disease, she saw beauty.

“It reminded me of the Maltese Cross flower,” she said. “I grow them, and they’re beautiful.”

Inspired by her niece’s gift of a Christmas tree bucket list with removable ornaments, Morissette decided to create a list that was doable in the midst of a shutdown. And of course, it would be garden-themed.

Using clip art and card stock, she printed a blue sky, with waving empty flower stems, butterflies, a few daisies, and a sun, hidden by the coronavirus image. She made the coronavirus by stamping out tiny individual flowers and affixing them with repositionable tape, atop the sun.

“As you do the items on the bucket list, you remove a flower and place it on a stem,” she explained. “The sun is revealed, and the flowers get to bloom.”

Bucket list items include: Donate to someone in need; get takeout from a local restaurant; read a book; take a nature walk; do a jigsaw puzzle; or try a new recipe.

There are 21 items in all, enough to fill the garden Morissette created with blooms. When creating the list, she drew inspiration from things she’s found to keep her mind busy during this stressful time.

Birdwatching, for example. Her home on 1-and-a-half acres, sits across from Riverside State Park, and is filled with windows overlooking breathtaking views of the Spokane River. Birds and wildlife are plentiful year-round.

Another item, “Attend a lecture or class online,” is something Morissette has eagerly embraced.

“I’m taking an online course to be a Master Gardener,” she said.

Morissette also plans to become a garden coach.

Her neighbors can attest that she’s completed another item on the bucket list: “Share something with a neighbor.”

She’s made and given away 10 of her pandemic bucket lists. Prior to this project, Morissette had created “gratitude pumpkins” and given them to her neighbors. She’d decorated miniature pumpkins with succulent cuttings from her garden.

“It was a reminder to be thankful for the little things,” she explained.

The coronavirus bucket lists are her way of focusing on the positive in the midst of negativity.

“One thing we can all agree on is this pandemic has lasted too long, and we’re all feeling shut-in and isolated,” said Morissette. “But look at all you can do, besides just wait out the pandemic.”

As her friends and neighbors complete their bucket lists, she plans to reward them with a lasting reminder of their accomplishment – a package of Maltese Cross flower seeds to sprinkle in their own gardens.

“It’s fun,” Morissette said of the project. “It’s good for my mental health to make stuff and give it away.”

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