An Ode to Nature

ode to nature - a poem by madison woods about nature

I don’t often get in the mood to write poetry, but this time of year it sometimes happens. Not sure what it is, perhaps the approach of mid-winter, perhaps the shifted angles of light.

Cover and Sample Page

Here’s the cover for the last photo-ebook in the series, and a sample page. Should be at Amazon by the weekend! If you want to catch up on the others, heres a link to the first one: They open into full page photos, no double-tapping required!

Click on the image below to go to the latest release.

forest companions cover image


First Thoughts

What is the first thought that enters your mind on waking? Are you savoring vestiges of pleasant dreams, or do you wake up already planning the day…or is there a sense of ‘oh no, not again” ?

Sometimes the first thing I do is glance to see if the sun is up yet. Depending on the visual cue, my first thought after that is usually something along the lines of “What time is it?” which leads into either wondering if the coffee is done yet or cold already.

I’m feeling contemplative this morning. Just curious what kinds of things are on the minds of everyone else. Usually, my first thoughts fall into the first category I mentioned of savoring vestiges of pleasant dreams, but they quickly lead into the coffee contemplations. I rarely wake up in a bad mood.

photo of sunbeams

Frosty Hills

photo of frosty Ozark hills

Frosty hills are pretty and the Ozark hills are sporting white capes this morning! See the distant mountain with the white hoar frost?

The 4-wheeler was also decorated. A light coat of ice had the key and brake lock stiff and I had to clear the encrusted seat so I could sit. Took a very chilly ride out to the mailbox so I could send off a bill in time.

When it’s foggy outside and the temps drop below freezing, all of Nature takes on a sparkly white hue. I love it when that happens. This morning only the tops embraced the chill this way, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

My Results from the Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test™

The Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test™ was a fun, free little online test, sort of like the Myers-Briggs test to determine personality types:

After you’re done and when you click on the “Career Choices” info button, it gives some details about the kinds of careers that would be most satisfying for your type. I found mine to be fairly accurate, but I was quite pleased to see the company I share in type-casting, haha. Seems I’m in good company with my INTJ type. I think they overlooked “writer and creative” as a fitting career choice, though.

My Results

photo of the thinker statue

Except for being a man and all, and me not being so muscular,  it looks a lot like me up there all deep in thought…Actually, it looks nothing like me, but I do think a lot.


Introvert(78%) iNtuitive(75%) Thinking(25%) Judging(44%)

Famous Personalities Sharing INTJ Type

  • Isaac Newton, a physicist, mathematician, astronomer
  • Niels Bohr, a physicist, received the Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Carl Gustav Jung, a psychiatrist, the founder of analytical psychology
  • Michel de Montaigne, a thinker and an influential writer of the French Renaissance
  • Michel Nostradamus, a seer who published famous prophecies
  • Ada Lovelace, an analyst, metaphysician, and the founder of scientific computing

Your Turn

Have you ever taken the full test or one of these online free ones? Share your types and interesting finds if you do it.

Broomsedge, not Fescue

 An Author’s Corrections: It’s Broomsedge, not Fescue

When I wrote No Qualms I described the shadeling as having hair that resembled fescue. That’s because I’d always thought the grass I had in mind was fescue. Recently I learned that it is in fact a grass commonly called broomsedge (possibly Andropogon virginicus). It might be a different species. There are several that look similar, but the point is that fescue looks nothing like this grass. And so the image I drew up in my mind and tried to relay to the reader’s mind would have been completely wrong, at least if the reader knew what fescue looked like.

Most likely the average reader won’t know what broomsedge looks like either, but I hope from the passage it’s easy enough to imagine that it’s a grass or weed or plant of some sort that the narrator is referring to. Fescue or broomsedge, it won’t matter to most readers. But to the few who might read it who know, it would. And it matters to me. At least if it’s a different variety of broomsedge, the reader can come close to imagining what I had in mind.

The pictures below are of broomsedge. This is the imagery I drew upon when writing the character Dannae. An excerpt from the story showing where I used the description is below the photos.

broomsedge gone to seedbroomsedge bluestem

An excerpt from No Qualms:

“It took you long enough to stop by,” a voice said.
I froze. Dammit. I hadn’t found even one root yet. I stood slowly and looked around. No one was there. He might not be visible yet, but I knew the vile creature had come already. “Who’s there?” I asked into thin air.

I didn’t have to pretend to be scared. My heartbeats were so loud in my ears right then I wouldn’t be able to hear approaching footsteps. Touching my pocket again to feel for the bloodroots I’d gathered earlier, I reassured myself. Knowing they were there helped me to calm down.

The calm didn’t last.

“Me,” the voice said, causing my heart to leap into my throat again. “I’ve thrown out an etheric hook every time you passed. But did it help? Nooooo. You just kept on driving like you didn’t even feel them.”

Oh, I felt them alright. Not that he needed to know, but I went home and cleansed myself of them every night. “Who are you and what do you want?” It took all of my willpower to make my voice sound calm and confident. My every instinct shouted to me to run, to get away from this place. But that wouldn’t solve anything. This had to be dealt with now.

“I want you to come closer so I can better see you.” A form finally materialized in front of one of the more spindly maidenwoods. He was a short rail of a man busily nodding at me in the dappled evening shade. His gaunt face creased with something sort of like a smile, if you could call it a smile. It might have been a toothy grimace. He stood with his skeletal hands clutched into fists in front of his chest, head still bobbing away. “Some people listen to their instincts. Not you. What took you so long to stop?”

“These hooks you threw – is that what you’re calling instinct?” I asked as I backed a few steps away from the shriveled man. I knew what he’d been doing. Those hooks grabbed my instinct and made it react, but that wasn’t instinct itself. I knew better than that. Only ordinary people made a mistake of thinking it any sort of natural inclination.

His too bulbous head was nearly bald except for a few bunches of stiff yellow hair standing here and there like broomsedge gone to seed. A smattering of brown liver spots danced across the top of his scalp when he raised and lowered his eyebrows.

“Smart one, aren’t you?” He shuffled a few steps in my direction but then stopped short. He cocked his head and looked back at the tunnel looming behind him and then down at the ground beneath his feet. A quick frown passed over his face before he dismissed it and reassumed the fake smile.

No Qualms is my short story available from Amazon, Smashwords, and iTunes.

Between Autumn & Winter: A Liminal Space

A Liminal Space

It’s not a special time of year right now, but kind of in between seasons. A “twilight” of the seasons. I didn’t think there’d be much to take pictures of when Rob and I took a hike on the mountain the other day. All of my favorite plants are already dormant for the remainder of the year. But being a “between” time, makes it a liminal sort of space and that’s my favorite kind of place to be.

I was not disappointed in the photo opportunities.

Trees and Leaves

There were still leaves in various shades of color.

We saw some of the largest oak leaves I’ve ever seen.

giant oak leaf

gigantic oak leaf as compared to Rob’s sz 9 shoe.

There was an old tree that had split and a long polished splinter jutted out from the trunk. The grain of that wood was beautiful! It looked like a black walnut tree and I wished we had with us a way to cut that splinter loose so I could bring it home.


Tree Bones

There were a lot of downed trees, probably from several years ago when the ice storm came. We lost a lot of trees on the mountains during that storm and I vividly remember the sound of trunks snapping as the stress of holding the weight of too much ice crossed the line of tolerance. Just then I passed a partially rotted limb that reminded me of a bone. A tree bone.

tree bones

tree bones


downed trees

downed trees

Adam and Eve Orchid

And then I saw an Adam and Eve orchid, which surprised me. I didn’t think they’d still be out at this time of year. I knew they were early risers in spring and have a page or two in my photo essay book that talks about them. But I don’t recall ever seeing them in early winter before. I’ll have to play closer attention each year from now on to see if it’s a normal occurrence.

At the time I composed the book, I didn’t have photos of the roots to show the “Adam” and “Eve”. Now I do. If you read the book and wondered how the roots look, here are some photos!


Ferns and Green Plants

There were a few other green plants still, besides the cedars.

Here are some grape/rattlesnake ferns. One is bronzed and the other is not. It’s always hard for me to tell which kind they are, rattlesnake or grape fern, so I just lump them both together.

Ozark Mountain Springs

Then we saw what we call “spring grass”. When you see this kind of grass in the middle of the woods, it usually means there’s a spring seeping up keeping the ground moist right there. I brushed the leaves away to see if the ground really was wet, and it was. The picture I took of the wet ground didn’t come out very good so I won’t post it, but there was a lot of moisture. You can see the spring grass, still greenish for now.

spring grass

spring grass

After a bit more climbing we found a much better spring, and then another. Hidden springs are one of the most magical places I know.

a dripping spring

a dripping spring


There was an old moss covered stump on the ground with only a small opening. It looked like it could have been a fairy or sprite hideout.

sprite hideout

sprite hideout

We finally made it to the logging road. I took it back to the house and Rob returned the way we’d come because he’d left the four-wheeler parked on the other end of the valley where we’d entered the woods.

On the way back I saw some of my favorite grass catching sunlight in a bit of seed fluff.

broomsedge bluestem

broomsedge bluestem

I hope you enjoyed this virtual nature walk from Wild Ozark! If you did, please share it with your friends. This post will eventually become a Wild Ozark Nature Journal e-book. Thank you for joining me :)

Hunt Food, Gather Firewood

smoked venison

I wish I could capture smell and taste in a photo! This is Rob’s latest recipe trial, and oh it is sooooo delish.

This year we’ve been proactive about a stocked freezer and our supply of firewood. Last year and the years since we’ve moved up here, we’ve always had a steady supply of venison, but we seem to always need firewood at the worst times. Last year, I remember waiting impatiently for the temperature to get above freezing to go out for more. On that particular day the thermometer started out around -10*F. As we watched the thermometer once the sun rose over the hill, we gave up when it finally reached a whopping 10*F, judging that it was finally warm enough to go out. Above freezing just wasn’t likely to happen that day.

This is a post from the old blog from last year, one of my favorites because it’s a ‘pondering’ post… I’m a frequent muser and ponderer.

Hunt food, gather firewood

We’d just returned from the grocery store. So the larder has been restocked. Now we needed to gather firewood.

It suddenly struck me that our daily habits as civilized man isn’t a whole lot different than our daily habits as primitive man.  Hunt food, gather firewood. The way we go about nowadays it is different, but the principle is the same.

We have a lot more time for detours during the route to and from the hearth. For many of us, our means of lighting  and stirring the pot on the home fires is more indirect. It takes 40 consistent hours a week to be able to afford to keep the fires going and the food cooking consistently the modern way.

Food and fire. Whether we shop for it at the grocery store, grow or hunt it with weapons, it’s the same need to procure food. Whether we go to work all day long on the hamster wheels of daily jobs or literally pick up sticks and chop wood, it’s the same need to stay warm and cook food. And for me, it’s important to be able to bathe without a goose bump shroud.

Anyway, thought I’d share my thoughts on this today. In what ways do you satisfy your hunter-gatherer issues? Do you work the daily grind and buy what you need, grow gardens and gather firewood? How much of your diet and warmth is direct sourced? I had never thought of it that way before, but it interests me. I like having the direct connection most of the time. But I also like the convenience of being able to get what I need at the store or supplier, too.

firewood stacked

Stocked up for a little while.

For all of you in the U.S. – Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal tomorrow! We here at Wild Ozark have a lot to be thankful for.


Shagbark Hickory Syrup

bark from a shagbark hickory tree

Photo of shagbark hickory bark. The link takes you to Dave’s Cupboard, where this idea for the syrup originated.

Shagbark Hickory Syrup

My husband comes up with some tasty ideas for things to make here on the Wild Ozark homestead. Last time it was home roasted coffee. That was so successful it’s now one of our homestead standards (except for right now because we’re out of home roast and have to use store bought).

This time his idea was shagbark hickory syrup.

hickory nuts

Freshly gathered hickory nuts. Hard to beat the squirrels to the good ones!

Skeptical? I was too. This is how the bark of a shagbark hickory looks. If you click on the pic at the top, it’ll take you to Dave’s Cupboard, which is where we got the recipe. Rob was looking up recipes for hickory pie (like pecan pie but using hickories instead) and he stumbled on this site.

We gathered nuts the other day before the cool front moved in with plans to make things from them when the weather turned all drizzly.

We gathered bark, too, because the idea of making syrup from it sure did intrigue. Yesterday eve Rob made the syrup and, like the coffee, it was so delicious it’s going to become another must-have in our cupboard!

Our modified recipe for Shagbark Hickory Syrup

Yesterday Rob made a fresh batch to give away for Christmas gifts.

He modified the original recipe some by cooking the decoction longer to concentrate it more. Here’s a rough outline of how it’s done:

  1. Gather bark from the tree
  2. Clean bark by washing and scrubbing
  3. Break bark into smaller pieces
  4. Roast bark in the oven
  5. Add bark to a pot and cover by several inches with water
  6. Decoct the bark by cooking on very low heat (no boiling, no bubbles breaking)
  7. Remove bark from water, strain liquid, return to pot
  8. Decoct to concentrate to nice dark color
  9. For each cup of liquid add 2 cups sugar
  10. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved
  11. Pour into canning jars
  12. Enjoy!

I’m thinking I’d like to add this as a product to our online store. Here’s the link to the original recipe at Dave’s Cupboard if you want to try making some, too.

hickory nut bark-syrup

Photos of a misty day in the Ozarks

beech tree at wild ozark

For you from Wild Ozark™ :) Grab a cuppa & enjoy!

A Misty Day in the Ozarks

One of my favorite kinds of trees, the beech, keeps leaves long after the others have disrobed and gone into winter’s sleep.

Almost all of the beeches I see are very young. This one is older than most. It’s a very good kind of tree to see if you’re looking for ginseng habitat, but not common out here at Wild Ozark.

Many of the oaks, especially white oaks, still have clinging leaves right now too. Beech retains leaves even throughout out the snowy days of winter.

If you’re in northwest Arkansas and want to see a very large and beautiful specimen beech, there is one in the front parking area of the Compton Gardens in Bentonville.

The rest of the photos from this mornings excursion are arranged in a slideshow. I hope you enjoy them and feel moved to tell me which is your favorite. Tell me also about your favorite kind of tree!

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