Wild Ozark

Reconnect to Nature

Kings River Falls – Photos from our hike

On Sunday I went hiking with my two oldest children and their children, one of my daughter’s friends and her children, and my parents to the Kings River Falls.  This trail is a little north and east of Fallsville, AR in Madison county.  Here’s a link the Arkansas Natural Heritage website for the trail.

Kings River Falls Natural Area

The sign marking the trail head to the Kings River Falls Natural Area.

The sign marking the trail head to the Kings River Falls Natural Area.

The Kings River Falls trail was a relatively short one at about a mile. It’s not a loop, so you’ll come back out the same way you went in, making the total trip about two miles. It’s not a hard hike because there’s no hills, but a lot of it was very rocky. It was not handicap accessible.

We started out in one big group. Everyone quickly got ahead of me, but I managed to get a couple of pictures of a few who straggled around the parking lot for a little while.

Kady's first hike!

Kady’s first hike!

So sweet. Karter and my mom.

So sweet. Karter and my mom.

I’m the slow one on trails when I bring a camera because I’m always stopping to take pictures of things like leaves, flowers, bird nests, etc.

Here you can see my son, the last straggler, finally pulling far ahead of me.

I'm always getting left behind.

I’m always getting left behind.

I dare say my exercise workout from hiking is still sufficient, though, because all those things need a lot of stooping, bending, and near yoga postures to get good pics sometimes. (If you click the photos they should enlarge).

 

 Most of the trail was rocky. It didn’t seem to bother the younger folks, but it could be a bit of an ankle twister for others. Some stretches were relatively smooth. And there was hardly any change in elevation the whole way.

Rocky path at Kings River Falls Natural Area in Madison county Arkansas.

The path was rocky.

And sometimes the path was smooth.

And sometimes the path was smooth.

This trail is near the headwaters of Kings River. I’m not sure exactly how many miles upstream is the source, though. Even alongside this one mile trail you can see the many personalities of this river. The bottom is most often tumbled with rocks, both large and small. But there are some stretches with interesting sandstone formations.

 Eventually, near the end of the trail, I almost caught up with my party. But as soon as I came into sight they jumped up and ran off. This is why I usually stick to photographing plants and rocks. They don’t move when I’m trying to get pictures. Unless the wind is blowing.

Every time I almost catch up, they get up and leave.

Every time I almost catch up, they get up and leave.

But finally I did catch up at the end of the trail. I always bring water on hikes, but since we had left around lunch time and I hadn’t eaten yet, I wished I had brought some lunch, too. Besides, it’s always a good idea to carry at least a snack in case there’s a delay on the trail for whatever reason.

End of the trail

I took these while the kids were playing on the rocks and near the water’s edge and everyone was resting and getting ready for the hike back out. My card was full by now, so I was able to keep up on the way out since I could no longer take any pictures.

 I spent a fair amount of time trying to get a perfect photo of a drop of water falling from some lush moss at the base of the falls running into the river. But I never did get a good one. Here’s a so-so attempt.

Water dripping through lush moss.

Oh. And here’s a few of the destination falls.

Hope you enjoyed this “virtual” hike to the Kings River Falls Natural area in Madison county Arkansas!


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

What’s the Big Deal About Ginseng?

This is the topic of my 10-minute speech for the Meet the Author’s Event on Saturday, Feb. 6,  at the Kimberling City Library. My talk, “What’s the Big Deal about Ginseng” is at 11:10 but there will be lots of other authors there giving their 10 minutes of engaging content, too. The allotted time may not be enough to cover all of the details in the article below, but I’ll be there most of the day to answer questions if you have any.

Here’s a PDF with the schedule. I hope you’ll come out to meet and greet your favorite local authors. I’ll have a bit of table space and all of my books, so if you want one autographed, it’s a perfect opportunity.

The Feng-Shui of American Ginseng

  1. Fueled by Desire for the root – “demand” (air)
  2. Controlled by Money – you’d think supply would be the controlling factor, but when there isn’t enough to meet the demand the market just goes underground and prices skyrocket. (fire)
  3. Tempered by Supply – The amount of money diggers get for it determine how much of it they’re willing to dig. (earth)
  4. Flamed by Scarcity – The plant is endangered and naturally in short supply. (water)

These four things combine to create the “perfect storm” that makes ginseng a big deal. I call it the feng-shui  of the ginseng market. When all is in balance, the flow is sustainable and the plant remains in sustainable populations in native habitats. Too much “air” and too much “fire” throws everything off-kilter and makes the future for this plant precarious.

What is Ginseng?

Wondering what's the big deal about ginseng?

A ginseng plant with ripe berries.

Ginseng is a small understory woodland perennial plant that can live a long time. The oldest one I’ve seen from the Ozarks was about 45 years, but it can live to be 100 or more. It’s not a very large plant and the root, the part most often bought and sold, isn’t very large either.

The leaves and ripe berries have a market too, but those parts are not as much in demand as the roots.

Ginseng grows in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Siberia as well. Our north American species is called Panax quinquefolius. The other ginseng varieties in other countries have other species names, but they all belong to the genus Panax.

Here’s a post with photos if you’d like to see what ginseng looks like at various stages of growth.

Why the Desire?

What's the big deal about ginseng? Very old American ginseng roots can demand high prices.

What’s the big deal about ginseng? Very old American ginseng roots can demand high prices.

The largest market for American ginseng is China. Their own native ginseng has been a part of their traditional health and well-being for centuries.

It wasn’t until the 1700’s that our ginseng was discovered by explorers. They sent samples of it to China and the momentum of desire grew from there. Native Americans used ginseng as well, but they never gave the plant the same, nearly mystical, devotion as the Chinese.

The root has some scientifically proven benefits. Studies have shown that it may help boost the immune system and lower blood sugar, but it hasn’t been extensively researched. The main reasons the Chinese love it are because they believe it cures impotence, improves stamina, promotes a longer life span, and balances the heat in a body. The American ginseng is considered to be more “cooling” and less stimulating than Chinese ginseng.

How much money does a root fetch?

Most of the time, prices per pound of dried root starts out around $400-500. That sounds fantastic until you learn that it takes nearly 350 decent sized roots to make a dried pound. But during a good year, like the one we had in 2007 the roots can bring close to $800-900/lb. This is what makes ginseng a big deal to those who live to dig it each year.

Each year I keep a running report on prices the diggers are getting throughout the ginseng-producing states. You can read the 2015 Ginseng Prices post to see how they did last year.

How much do end users pay?

Before the roots reach the last buyer, it goes through a couple of middle-men. Each time it is sold on, it gains in selling price. By the time someone in China buys a root – one root, or a few – it can cost up to and perhaps beyond $6000.00/lb. The price depends upon the root. Average prices probably run between $1000 – $2000 for lower grade, less desirable roots. I haven’t found a source to verify the figures, so I can’t say for sure. Old and roots shaped just so will bring the highest prices. This only applies to wild roots. Cultivated roots are not desired in China but we use them here in the US to manufacture supplements and energy drinks. They cost a fraction of the price.

We have a root from North Carolina for sale at our online shop for $200. That’s one root. But it’s a very special root.

Why is it endangered?

  • particular habitat – narrow range of tolerance. The right amount of shade, soil moisture and soil structure is critical.
  • poaching – hunting out of season, extirpation by poachers
  • habitat fragility – logging impacts the habitat, as does ice storms and property developments
  • the harvest kills the plant, so overharvesting will cause depletion
  • long life-cycle – the most desirable roots are over 30 years old and it has to be 5 before it’s even legal to harvest.

The market does fluctuate and some years are better than others for either end of the business. But as long as there are users to desire the root there will be diggers supplying it. And some of them will do this through whatever means they can, whether it’s through ethical, sustainable practices or on the black market with poached product.

Wild Ozark supports, encourages, and practices sustainable ginseng harvests and hope to spread the desire to become good stewards of this valuable native American plant.

Summary

The big deal about ginseng is that this endangered root is in short supply, but highly desired. So the prices can sometimes be wildly high, and the sustainability of the plant’s existence is hard to maintain without ethical practices.

More Reading Resources:

 

 

 


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

A Poem by Joanna Macy

This is an untitled poem by Joanna Macy, a deep ecologist.  Well, it might have a title, but I haven’t been able to find out what it is yet. When or if I do, I’ll update this page to reflect it. I found this poem many years ago on a website long lost to memory, but I’ve linked to Joanna’s website in her name below. I stumbled across the poem today as I was looking through some of my old files and it still speaks to me, and in so much more than a quiet whisper. I’m sharing it with you now, and I hope you love it, too.

photo paired with a poem by joanna macy

One of my photos from a trip to Germany in 2013.

a poem by Joanna Macy, Unknown Title

We hear you, fellow creatures.
We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid.

What we have unleashed has such momentum now,
we don’t know how to turn it around.

Don’t leave us alone, we need your help.

You need us too for your own survival.

Are there powers there you can share with us?

    “I, lichen, work slowly, very slowly.
Time is my friend.
This is what I give you: patience for the long haul and perseverance.”

    “It is a dark time.  As deep-diving trout I offer you my fearlessness of the dark.”

    “I, lion, give you my roar, the voice to speak out and be heard.”

    “I am caterpillar.  The leaves I eat taste bitter now.  But dimly I sense a great change coming.  What I offer you, humans, is my willingness to dissolve and transform.  I do that without knowing what the end-result will be, so I share with you my courage too.”

                —Joanna Macy


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

The Sound of Winter

Some sounds are distinctly “winter”. Sometimes the sound of winter is marked by the absence of sound. Maybe it’s more correctly described as the “silence of winter”.

I am often reminded of how grateful I am to have my sense of sight. Beautiful things catch my eye almost daily. Most of the time I run to get the camera but often the lens (or the photographer) can’t capture the image in the same light it was seen.

Yesterday morning I noticed how thankful I am for my sense of hearing. I usually wake up right before daylight. That doesn’t mean I’m out of bed, only that I’m awake. Ordinarily, the chickens are crowing. When the horses get impatient for breakfast, they carry their rubber feeders and drop them into inconvenient nooks and crannies behind rocks and trees near the gate. This spurs the dogs to bark at them.

Yesterday morning it was quiet. It seemed all of the homestead critters had slept in.

It was cold in the bedroom when I finally pushed the luxurious alpaca blanket off of me so I could get up and get dressed. A quick look out the bedroom balcony door explained the silence.

Ice coated the ground everywhere I looked. All of the animals were not bothering to go about their usual morning ruckus because it was just too darn uncomfortable. Dogs huddled in their dog houses, chickens clucked and fussed from beneath the house where they hide out during inclement weather. And the horses just stood there by the gate, glaring at me as I tried to walk my usual route without slipping down.

Later that afternoon, I listened to the sound of sheets of ice slipping from the upper roof onto the lower one before finally shattering on the ground. It sounds like small cannon-fire explosions when it happens, but doesn’t rock the house, thankfully. This sound continues today. The early morning’s hearty round of sleet and rain added ammunition to the rooftop magazines.

Ice sliding from the roof is a distinct sound of winter.

Ice sliding from the roof is a distinct sound of winter.

Some sounds are distinctly “winter”. So is the stark absence of sound like that cold morning when the animals all decided to huddle in warmer places.


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

Meet our new team mates – Bat Cave Botanicals

Wild Ozark is pleased to announce that we’ll be working with Bat Cave Botanicals to bring wild Appalachian ginseng roots and leaf products to our online shop.


Martin & Sara of Bat Cave BotanicalsAbout Bat Cave Botanicals

My partner & I are fortunate to live in a region of the world where ginseng grows wild. The mountains of Western North Carolina have a long standing heritage that includes hunting for ginseng & other herbs for folk medicine as well as international market value. To protect the future of this incredible plant from over-harvest, cultivation & good stewardship practices are essential in order to satisfy demand and thus relieve the pressure being placed on the wild plant by high commercial value.

We have been growing ginseng and protecting a wild population for over 10 years. This is our second season of selling ginseng online and we specialize in ethically harvested, premium wild ginseng roots. ‘Ethical harvest’ means digging roots only in the proper season, selectively harvesting less than one third any population, and zealously planting the red berries which contain the ginseng seeds.

We became involved in the ginseng business because of our mutual love of nature, cultural history, and an interest in finding a new way to profitably market ginseng as a commodity while at the same time showing respect & providing guardianship for this rare & fascinating plant.

We are located in Bat Cave, North Carolina; surrounded by the beautiful southern Appalachian mountains. We specialize in superior quality Wild American ginseng roots & products, as well as many other native & useful plants.

Bat Cave Botanicals is a registered North Carolina Ginseng Dealer. We comply with all Federal & North Carolina regulations concerning the harvest, inspection, certification & sale of Wild American Ginseng. We abide by an ethical code regarding the stewardship & harvest of Ginseng and other at-risk plants.

Martin & Sara
Bat Cave Botanicals

Martin and Sara’s premium roots are available for purchase at Wild Ozark’s online shop. Each month I send out an inventory update report just for our ginseng products. Sign up for that list if you want to stay informed. Right now only the roots from Bat Cave Botanicals are listed. Soon I’ll be adding Ozark roots from our new Ozarks team mates who will be introduced in the near future, and some of my own ginseng-related products.

Keeo up with the roots report

 

 

 

 

 


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

.

Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

On the horizon-Just filling in

I’m swamped with my project list and missed my scheduled day to post here yesterday. So I’m just making a quick post to let you all know about a few things on the horizon.

Some exciting announcements coming up – we’ll soon be offering dried wild roots in our online shop (only for US customers). We’ve partnered with a couple of fantastic wildcrafters in North Carolina to do this, and by fall, if not sooner, we should also have wild Ozark roots. We’re happy to be able to satisfy the requests from our Asian-American readers who have expressed interest. We may also be able to provide fresh roots in late spring. If you’re interested in being notified when these are available, sign up for the mailing list by using the yellow top bar on this page.

Also, ginseng workshops are on the horizon. The first one is booked but we’re still working out the details at the Ozark Folkways Center in Winslow, AR for May 14. You can find out more about my ginseng presentations and workshops the the newly updated “Learn About Ginseng” page.

I’ve been keeping up with my fitness routine but haven’t made a whole lot of progress. While it was really cold I didn’t want to walk/jog down the driveway so have been using the treadmill instead.

The January Ozark Musings newsletter is almost ready. I just have a few more things to add to it and I’ll send it out next week, early, maybe on Sunday. I’m debating whether to continue doing it in the email like I have been or just sending you a link to read or download a PDF document. Which way do you prefer?

That’s all for today and might be all for the week. I’ll be back Sunday if not sooner. Have a great rest of the week and weekend!

On the horizon- frosty leaf


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

Warm Egg on a Cold Day

There is something quite satisfying about finding a warm egg in the henhouse on a blustery 15*F morning.

So nice to find a warm egg on a cold morning

Not the actual egg from this morning – this is one of my stock photos and is a new maran egg. This morning’s egg was small and light brown, but not one of the maran’s.

I tried something new to help me wake up a little earlier this morning. It wasn’t until 5 a.m. when the strange noises began that I’d remembered what I’d done, though. Fresh coffee brewing in the bedroom, just what a body needs to motivate it out of bed, right?

When I got downstairs to turn on the heater and put my insulated bibs in front of the fire to warm up before I put them on for feeding rounds, I checked the temperature. I had already heard the wind rattling the house and outbuildings, so I knew it would be blustery. 15*F on the thermometer.

I was pretty surprised to find not only one warm egg this morning but two. One hen has been going into the old house where I store the square bales of hay. She goes in through a broken window. I didn’t find that nest until yesterday, because I’d been using the round bales and hadn’t gone in there for a while. But yesterday I wanted to put hay in the hen’s nest boxes and the dog houses. So when I found the nest it had several eggs in it. I threw those out.

The hen won’t usually set eggs right now anyway. But if she did act broody, I might let her go on and see how that works out.  When a hen wants to hatch out a clutch of eggs, she’ll stay on the nest and “set” them. But she won’t start doing that until she’s collected several eggs. It doesn’t have to be only her eggs. The other hens will often lay eggs in a broody hen’s nest and she adopts them without a blink of an eye.

Usually those other hens do that while she’s off the nest getting food and water. So they act as babysitters and leave a bit of a gift behind, ha.

The mother only gets off the nest to eat and drink water once a day, and toward the end of incubation, not even then.  I usually will bring food and water to her. The only threat at this time of year would be the cold. In spring and summer it’s the snakes that are the biggest cause of loss in the chicks around here. Maybe the mother hen could keep them warm enough to survive.

Hens usually lay less eggs in winter because the days are shorter. But we have two or three hens that lay an egg every day, regardless of weather or season. The only time they don’t is during molting. I wish I knew which hens had laid the eggs this morning – I’d give them an extra special treat for being so diligent!

Warm eggs on cold mornings are like little pocket warmers – if you’re careful.

 


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

.

Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

What is Humanity’s Role in Nature?

Humanity’s Role in Nature

Have you ever thought about humanity’s role in nature? Our various mythologies and religious origin stories offer some ideas that are generally accepted by many, but those are conflicting and I still wonder. Are we here to rule? To support and steward? Or perhaps to destroy?

Our current political, economical, and sociological situations have me wondering about humanity’s role in nature, in general.

Humanity's role in nature - what exactly is it?

The beauty of nature often awes me.

Beauty and Awe

So often I am awed by the beauty of nature. And then I am intrigued by the capacity of humans to experience that beauty, by the impulse to ponder. I feel most human, most in communion with the Divine, when I am witness to the extraordinary normalcy of Nature’s glory.

Maybe not effortlessly, but seemingly without thought and pre-planning, the cycle of life continues. One phase leads to the next without fail. The Great Mother marches onward without a glance back to see who’s lagging behind, who’s keeping up.

Vicious and Horrific

Harsh? Yes. But that precision march is what keeps chaos from ruling. The illusion that we are able to control Nature is the reason we most often refuse to keep up with the cycles and why we so often fail to observe and work in concert with the cycles. Instead we try to create our own rule of order.

And yet, life and death still happens. In spite of the flinches we experience when death strikes too close to home, still the world turns without a hitch.

No Pretense, No Propriety

Everything in nature carries on without questioning whether what they say, think, or do is wrong or right, or whether it will make someone smile or frown, draw toward or repulse in horror.

Nature extends to that which is both beautiful and horrific in its reach.

It is not existence without consequence. Some might say selfish. But that’s not true. In nature, everything plays a role, everything works together.

These humans lived much closer in proximity to humanity's role in nature - but I still can't clearly see what it was.

These humans lived much closer in proximity to humanity’s role in nature – but I still can’t clearly see what it was.

Nature directs the entire orchestra, not just the individuals. Only when all the voices are heard will the symphony be harmonic.

Everything *is* or *isn’t*. No pretense, no propriety.

In our man-made constructs of home and hearth, we either try to keep up or deny the progression as Nature marches past. Nothing is immune.

Whether we like it or not, admit it or not, humanity reflects the nature of Nature – both beautiful and horrific in its reach.

That’s why I love it here near the wilds. It makes it easier to see the human realm within the natural realm and, to me, the perspective is comforting.

fungi in the wilds at Wild Ozark

We have so many beautiful fungi out here. This is one of my favorite photos.

I often wonder about humanity’s role in Nature. On a Universal scale. Are we builders or the decomposers? Or are we perhaps a mixture of both?

Are humans just another form of decomposers?

There are many decomposers at work in the ecosystems of our planet. If you look at smaller and smaller systems, you’ll find repetitions in scale of the same kind of work. Oxidizers work on the molecular level, breaking down and scavenging any electrons it can wrest from unsecure bonds. Mushrooms are at work on the everyday realm, breaking down just about anything that once lived a vital life.

What if humans are decomposers on a planetary scale? And if so, why is this not simply part of Nature, just like the fungi and the molecular reducers?

chickweed with orange fungi

Just as there are checks and balances in action on the molecular scale, with the reducers balancing out the oxidizers and the fungi activity resisted by immune activity of living things, so too there must be equal and opposing forces to the destructive habits of humans.

Perhaps such is found in the form of other humans inclined to equal or opposite behaviors.

Duality exists on so many levels in nature: predator and prey, night and day, life and death, male and female… Just as some bacteria cause illness and some also maintain health, maybe the nature of humanity is dual.

Perhaps it is our nature to tear down and also build up.

Maybe we are the terraformers of the Universe.

If this is our nature, then we are not acting unnaturally in our destructive tendencies. Nor in our conservative and protective efforts. Maybe it just is what it is, and we are both destructive and creative, horrific and beautiful, just as Nature intended.


 

This topic on the natural-ness of man was sparked by a conversation I had with my youngest son one day a couple of years ago. I can’t remember the exact subject of the conversation but it had to do with birds being natural building nests of things they find in nature, why are human’s houses considered any less natural than the bird’s nest just because we went through extra measures, enabled by our more complex natures, to procure the building supplies?


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

Snow is Beautiful but Hoar Frost is Magical

The sight of hoar frost makes me smile because it brings a memory to mind, one with imagery that could have been ripped from the pages of a fairy tale.

hoar frost on distant mountaintop

hoar frost on distant mountaintop

Hoar frost happens when fog freezes on the trees and other things that collect condensation during the pre-sunrise hours. It’s not a phenomenon that happens every cold morning, but only when conditions are just right.

As those of you who have followed me here for a while know, I have two horses. It hasn’t happened in a long while, not since we finally did some fencing work summer before last, but I used to often go out in search of my wayward horses.

The ridgetop you see in that photo above is a few miles to reach by dirt road, or a few miles to reach by hiking up the mountain behind our house and then following an old logging road along the ridgetop. In the photo, the dirt road would take us to the right hand side of the hoar-frost ridge and the logging road hike comes in from the left.

There is a large grassy field on the top of that ridge. That is where the horses tend to go when they’ve escaped their confinement. They get there by hiking up the mountain and following the old logging road, and that’s the way I normally go to retrieve them when it happens. There’s a gate on the road entrance and fences connected, and no way for me to get the horses out that way.

One time in winter the horses got out and I went off in search of them. As usual, I did find them on that ridge. But it was a hoar frost morning and the entire scene was made up of tiny light-catching ice sparkles. Every tree was coated, every shrub and blade of grass. There were even sparkles floating in the air.

I felt like I was walking the horses through an enchanted forest. Even the horses seemed to step gently as I led them back toward home. No camera with me on that hike. It’s enough to just carry myself, some water, and the horse’s halter up and down the hills like that, but on that day I wished I had brought it. I’ll never forget that sight.

 

hoar frost zoomed a little

hoar frost zoomed a little

Here’s another close-up view of how the trees look when coated with hoar frost.

hoar frost

This is a pic from the dirt road that leads around behind the ridge in my other photos. My son took it the other day on his way home, the same day I took the photos above.


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

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READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

Exercising Outside on a Crispy Ozark Morning

exercising outside involves jogging and walking to the 1/2 mile to the mailbox for me.

A crispy cold morning, great for exercising outside

I did my exercising outside this morning, jog/walked to the mailbox in under 20 minutes – a milestone for me!

Exercising Outside

Feeding the critters acted as a warm-up spell, but it was still cold when I sat the bucket down and departed toward the driveway. The rest of my body warmed up pretty good with the pace, but my hands stayed cold the whole time.

I jogged downhill until I got to the first creek crossing. Then I had to pick my way over the icy rocks and made it through without getting my feet wet. Then jogged to the next creek crossing where it was a little more difficult to find a way across, but made it too without wet feet.

I like exercising outside because I get to see nature while I’m at it, but it frustrates me sometimes to not stop and get closer looks. No camera on hand to slow me down or otherwise distract. But I wish I would have had it to take a picture of the icicles on the dripping bluff.

Walked the remaining 1/4 mile at a quick pace, tapped the mailbox and turned around to head back to the house. I jogged a short distance until the uphill became too hard to keep up that pace then walked to the first creek crossing and made it through with dry feet. Slipped a bit on the second crossing and got wet shoes, but the new cross-trainers are water resistant so it was only cold, not wet.

By the time I got back up the hill to the bucket I was pretty tired, but there was one last fairly steep uphill to go. We usually take this hill in 4wd in the trucks to keep from slipping and kicking rocks with the back tires.

Made it to the steps, about a mile total, in 19 minutes and 30 seconds. Not too winded and didn’t need to collapse on the couch once inside. Whoo-hooo! I’m making progress.

Outdoor Weight Training

exercising outdoors with rocks

Here’s one of the flat rocks I laid into place.

After I recovered from my morning exercises, I later went back to the mailbox to actually check the mail. This time I used the four-wheeler. But I stopped at the second creek crossing and moved rocks around to make the floor a little smoother for the vehicles when we drive through it. I had my insulated

flat rocks in creek

Before long I had several of them placed in some of the holes left by the flood.

waterproof boots and gloves on for this.

I would have taken pictures of the icicles, too, but they had already melted. It was a lot warmer this afternoon than it was this morning, but the water was still frigid.

Now the crossing should be a little smoother. I haven’t tried it yet with a truck, but when I do if the placement wasn’t just right I’ll look for a few more rocks to put in the spots that still needs them.

driveway crossing creek

Now it looks a lot smoother.

 

 

If you like the more relaxing form of exercising in nature, you’ll probably enjoy my post on why it took me an hour to get to the mailbox and back.


ginseng through the seasons line drawing

Line drawing from the USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 5 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

.

Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My sci-fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To read my fiction: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.

 

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20  Cover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions

 

.


READERS are a writer's RAISON D’ÊTRE - Thank you for being mine!

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products. You can sign up for special interest groups, too.

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