A Dream?

PinkQuailShoesMedI had an interesting dream this weekend.  It started off by going for a hike to gather up some of my favorite plants for the first time – Pink Lady Slipper or Quail Shoes.  They are a native orchid, but the Quail Shoes have become very rare in our mountains, that when you run upon them in the mountains, you are lucky to find one and if you find two, it is considered a lot.

I haven’t seen any Quail Shoes in years, but I recently ran upon about 50 of them on the side of a mountain.  It took my breathe away.  I couldn’t hardly believe what I was seeing.  I was filled with just joy at the sight of the mountain side covered with these pink delicate beauties.

When I was growing up, my father use to take me hiking.  He would point out plants and teach me about their personalities, as he called.  He would teach me about the nature of the plants and their medical properties.  I loved these hikes with my father, I not only got to spend time with him, but it instilled a life long love of plants and hiking.

When I found the pink Quail Shoes, one of grandchildren was with me.  I hope that I can impart a small part of my enthusiasm and love of the plant nation 0n him.

I took two baskets with me, a couple of plastic bags, a digging trowel and some tobacco.  It was a quiet and peaceful walk up the holler to the mountain where the pink Quail Shoes are growing.

Cinnamon-Fern-MedOn my way up to the holler I saw lots of plants – Rhododendron, white & purple violets, little mountain Iris’s, lots of Indian Cucumbers, lots of delicate wild Geraniums, Rattlesnake Plantain, Ferns (I saw my first cinnamon fern with its tall slender fronds of cinnamon color), and a dancing lady (a box turtle – if you look close at the designs on the box turtle’s shell, they resemble dancing ladies).

Springs has shown up this year with such vitality and abundance.  Gives one great hope the future.

When I reached the pink Quail Shoes, I selected two.  Even though there were lots of them, I’m still mindful of how rare these plants are and I want to be sure when I relocate them they survive.  It is my wish to help preserve them for generations to come, so I won’t be using these Quail Shoes for medicine.  It is my hope that they will flourish so they can be shared one day with my family and friends.

I carefully removed these two beauties from the side of mountain and placed them in one of the baskets.  I also collected some soil and leaf material and placed it in my plastic bags and placed the bags in my second basket.

I whispered a prayer of thanks and left a gift of tobacco, like I was taught by father, so many years ago.  We should always give back a gift to show our gratitude and to maintain balance in life.  If we only take from life and don’t give back anything, this creates a state of imbalance and that can cause stress, sickness, abuse, bad karma, etc..

Pink-Quail-Shoes-TwoI packed up and hiked back down the mountain and the holler.  When I reached home, I hiked up another small mountain and planted the pink Quail Shoes and gave them a deep drink of spring water.

I whispered another prayer of gratitude and asked that these plants may thrive in their new home.   Then I left a gift of tobacco.

When I got home I felt such a sense of well being.  I do love spring, plants and hiking, but transplanting these rare beauties in hopes that they will flourish and hopefully be around for generations to come, just felt right.  I  felt in that moment like my world was in balance.

Was this really a dream or was I really experiencing this?  Will the dream continue or just fade away..

Enjoy your day!


Note:  In recent years I have had the good fortune of discovering an old author by the name of Herbert Durand.  I have several of his books, but one that I recently pulled off my bookshelf is titled:  My Wildflower Garden.  I love this book.  I love the way he writes in this book and his approach to educating people about creating wildflower gardens with preservation in the forefront.  This book was originally published in 1929.

Anyone who loves wild plants and gardens, I think will find this book still informative and relevant today.  His writing style is a true delight!

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Celebrate Earth Day

Today is April 22.  A day chosen to celebrate the earth worldwide – Earth Day.  Earth Day was founded in 1970, as a way to promote love and respect for the planet and help to bring awareness to environmental issues that we humans are creating. 

Wow, I didn’t realize that Earth Day was founded in 1970, until I did some research recently.  I think today is a good day to reflect on our environmental progress as a nation and as individuals. 

I know I do many things different in my life today, than I did in the 70’s, 80’s, and even the 90’s.  I’m certainly living more green.  I try to reduce the amount of waste I generate, reuse what I can, recycle, I don’t use chemicals on our property, I have quit using most of the harshes chemicals in my house for cleaning, I use my own bags at the grocery store – most of the time these days, and we have our own chickens for eggs and meat. 

I’m glad my habits have changed in ways that are better for the planet and the next generations that follow me – us.  But I’m still not doing enough, but I’m doing the best I can for now. 

I don’t want to get on a soap box.  I just want to bring some awareness to Earth Day, and invite you to think about Earth Day and invite you to participate in Earth Day.  There are lots of enjoyable things you can do for Earth Day.  Even it is as simple as taking a walk with family and/or friends today and appreciating the beauty and splendor of life.  This would we a great beginning and enjoyable way to spend the day. 

In fact, there is a whole movement (Picnic for the Planet) out there that is promoting Picnics on Earth Day.  People are having small to very large picnics everywhere.  What a great idea.  To learn more about this movement, check out Picnic for the Planet

Another interesting group out there is The Earth Day Network.  They are promoting A Billion Acts of Green.  Awesome!  There is lots of information on their web site.  I just found this link this morning, and it looks really interesting.  They have a link to a group called the “Women and the Green Economy” (WAGE™), which looks interesting, but I don’t know much about it. 

The Earth Day Network has lots of links to various projects and groups.  If you are interested in learning more about the Earth Day and living more Green, I think you may find something on this web that will interest you. 

There is even an Earth Day flag.  The first Earth Day flag was made from recycled items.  Here is a picture of the Earth Day flag:

Flag

I like that this flag promotes the awareness and well being of the Earth, since the Earth is our home and vital to all life here.  It is a universal symbol for all of us. 

The Earth Day Flay represents something that we all have in common and we all have an invested interested in – Our Planet, and it doesn’t matter who we, where we come from, what religion we follow, how rich or how poor we are, we can all come together on this issue of ensuring the health of this planet for ourselves and all the generations to come.  We can think of the Earth Day Flag as The Flag of the People. 

If you chose to do something today or this weekend in recognition of Earth Day, consider posting what you chose to do.  It is amazing the creative ways that people  come up with to celebrate Earth Day. 

Enjoy!

Related Links

Elderberry Syrup

We love Elderberries syrup.  This year we had a bumper crop of Elderberries.  I really can’t remember when I have ever seen such big Elderberry heads.  Danny made a bunch of Elderberry syrup and froze a bunch of the berries so we could make more of the syrup this winter.

Elderberry syrup is not only tasty, but it is also really good for you.  It contains a lot of:

  • Immune System Booster
  • High in Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus

Elderberries have been used not only for syrup, wines, pies, and jellies, but also as pea shooters for children, and Native American Indian flutes.

I did a Google search on the internet and I found a couple of interesting links.  Here they are:

Here is the recipe we used for our syrup:

  • 1 cup of Elderberries
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar

Cook the Elderberries and water on the stove top.  Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for about 45 minutes.  Strain off the juice.  For every 4 cups of juice add 2 cups of sugar.  Place back on the stove top and bring to a boil.  Let this simmer for 10 minutes.  Then pour syrup into sterile canning jars and place lids on the jars.  Turn jars upside down for a few minutes, then turn them back right side up.  This helps to heat the lids so that they will seal well.

Here are some pictures I took of our Elderberry plants this year.  I hope you enjoy them.

Rose Petal Syrup

The Rose bush in the front yard came into bloom this week and it smells wonderful.  I have been making Rose Petal syrup for the last two days (30 pints so far) and I’m not done yet.

RosesBunch

We moved into this community 10 years ago.  There was this beautiful Rose bush in the front yard.  After we had lived here about a year, one of my neighbors stopped by and asked me if I was going to make Rose Petal syrup.  I said I had never made it before and didn’t know how.

It turns out that this neighbor was related to the woman that our house was built for (back in the sixties) and she liked to make Rose Petal syrup.  Wow.  The neighbor who stop by gave me the recipe for the Rose Petal syrup and I was thrilled.

Rose1

It just so happens that the Rose bush was in bloom, so I made a small batch of the Rose Petal syrup.  We mostly ate it over home made pound cake that first year.  It was heavenly.  We were hooked.

Each year I make larger and larger batches of the Rose Petal syrup.  The Rose bush seems to get bigger every year, so I guess it is responding to me taking more and more of it’s Rose Petals each year.

Rose2

We eat a lot of the syrup, but I also give it away to family and friends who seem to really like it.

We like to put it on Pound cake, yogurt, ice cream, in tea, in buttermilk, etc..,  and it is really good.

RosesInBasket

Here is my recipe for making the Rose Petal syrup:

  • I pick a large basket of Rose Petal flowers.  You will want to use an old timey Rose that smells really good.  A Tea Rose is the best.
  • Then I stuff mason jars full of Rose Petals, so full that they can’t take any more.
  • Then pour boiling hot (spring) water over the petals in the mason jar.  I make sure that I fill the jars full (to very top) of hot water.
  • Then put a lid on the jars and let them sit over night.
  • In the morning I strain the mixture in the mason jars.  I want the water (Rose Water at this point) from the mason jars.
  • I will put the Rose Water into a large cooking pot and I measure the Rose water as I’m putting it into the pot.
  • Then I add two cups of sugar (white works best) for every one cup of Rose water.  So, if I have 6 cups of Rose water, I would add 12 cups of sugar.
  • I add the juice from one large lemon to the pot of Rose water and sugar.
  • I stir this mixture and bring it to a boil.
  • I let it boil about 10 minutes.
  • Then I pour this hot Rose Petal syrup into clean, sterile mason jars.
  • Once the mason jars are filled and sealed with new lids, I turn the jars upside down for 5 minutes.  This helps the lids seal.
  • After the jars have cooled, I label them with a sharpie and place them on the shelf with my other canned goods.

RoseSyrup

Enjoy!

Mother’s Day 2010

I had one of the best mother’s day ever.  It was a beautiful and cool day.  It was great for working outside and not working up a sweat, or not much of one.

I have a herb bed out front of my house that I have been wanting to turn into a raised bed.   Yesterday that transpired.  Here is a picture of the herb bed before any work was started.

BeforeFlowerBed

My son and husband built a stone wall around this herb bed.  It took them about a half day.  Here are the after pictures:

BigFlowerBed

BigBedInside

I just love it.  What an awesome mother’s day gift.

I need to add a bunch of compost to this bed.  Hopefully I can do some of that today.

The stone isn’t new stone, but it is in great condition.  We were able to re-claim the stone.  About a month ago we were able to take down an old wall and keep the stone and this is the stone from that wall.

The cost of this wall was just our time and some labor.  I love re-using stuff.  One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

While my son and husband were building the stone wall around my herb bed, I transplanted some White Iris to a new small flower bed near our front porch steps.  Here is a picture of a white iris and the small flower bed.

IrisFlower

SmallFlowerBed

We had some stones left over, so my son and husband put the remaining stones around my new small  flower bed.  I just love it.

Kay

We finished the day off with dinner with my daughter, her boyfriend, my sister mom and her husband.  Dinner was delicious and the company was great.  What a great day.

Enjoy!

Living Rich

Where we live is in a pretty rural area and there isn’t a lot of work around here these days.  It has been a tough year, but we have lived a rich life this spring.  Not money wise, but our richness has come from the abundance of spring.  This has been one of the most beautiful and and abundant springs we have had in a long time.

Paint Creek TN Fishing Pond

id=”attachment_103″ align=”aligncenter” width=”500″ caption=”Fishing Pond on Paint Creek”

Everything is so green and lush.  The wild plants have just flourished.  The grasses have gotten about 2 foot tall and they just sway in the wind.  It is so beautiful seeing these green grasses dance in the wind.  I can certainly understand why our ancestors were inspired to create a green grass ceremony.  Our green grass ceremonies were/are done on the first new moon of spring.

Green Grass on Paint Creek TN

id=”attachment_105″ align=”aligncenter” width=”500″ caption=”Green Grass on Paint Creek TN”

Yesterday, Danny was wanting wild greens for dinner.  We gathering up a bunch of wild Poke Salad and Lambs Quarter.

We boiled up the greens.  Now remember that Poke Salad is a poisonous plant, but you can eat it when it is young, but you have to boil it at least twice and drain the water off between boiling and add fresh water again to continue/finish the boiling.

Once the greens were cooked, we sauté them with wild Ramps.  Then we added two freshly scrabbled eggs from our free ranging chickens and allowed the eggs to cook up in the greens.  When we looked at the cooked greens, they were the deepest green.  You just knew these greens were full of spring goodness and lots nutrients.

Then we cooked up some corn cakes (cornbread pancakes sort of – you make up a cornbread batter and add onions and pepper to it, then you fry it up like pancakes) to have with our greens.

Danny and I ate so much, that we thought we might pop.  Everything was delicious!  We felt so good.  We are grateful to be living so rich.

Enjoy your day!

Dandelion Flowers and Wild Ramps

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in the mountains.  I spent part of the day working outside weeding my raised beds.  After I got this done I went on a bike ride with my son.  We were looking for Morel mushrooms.  We didn’t find any.

It was getting to be that time of day when I needed to think about what we were going to have for dinner.  I had an inspiring moment.  I thought I would fry up some Dandelion flowers, make some corn cakes with wild ramps and cut some of my fresh greens and fry them up with some ramps.  And to top all this off, I’d server it with some homemade tomato gravy.

I gathered up some Dandelion flowers from our yard and the field in front of our house.  There weren’t a whole lot of them that hadn’t gone to seed, but I found enough for dinner.  I was excited about something different and tasty for dinner.

I want to give you a tip about gathering Dandelion flowers.  Make sure to just get the flower heads.  The stems can be bitter.

I washed the Dandelion flowers and dipped them into a bowl of freshly beaten eggs (we have our own chickens and they eat lots of greens and bugs and they provide us with some of the best eggs), then I dredged them in flour that had salt and black pepper added for taste.  I dropped the flour covered Dandelion flowers into hot olive oil and allowed them to turn a golden brown.

I removed them from the hot oil and placed them on a plate with paper towels.  They looked so good.  My mouth was watering.

Next I fixed the corn cakes.  I just used my regular cornbread recipe, but I made it slightly drier.

After I had the cornbread mixture, I added chopped wild ramps (root bulbs and leaves) to this mixture.  I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of wild ramps.  I then made cornbread dough into cakes by patting them out in my hands and frying them in olive oil, until they were crispy and brown.

Then I sautéed  some wild ramps in a skillet and added my freshly cut washed greens.  These cooked up quickly, since they were young and tender.

Now, the tomato gravy I had made the day before, so I only had to warm this up.

Everything looked so good.  I called Danny in from his workshop and we set down and started eating these nutrient rich and flavor rich foods.  I felt so rich in that moment to have such wonderful foods to eat.  Danny and I ate until we were so full.

What a wonderful and simple day.  I love days like this.  It reminds us how wonderful life is and how much abundance there is, even in these hard times.

Here is a youtube video by the group One EskimO and they are performing the song “Simple Day”, which helps to sum up my simple day.  Enjoy!