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.

 

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!

How Far Removed – Predator and Prey

Out here we have a healthy balance between predator and prey. Squirrels crowd the treetops, mice are at home in sheds and even in our house if we aren’t diligent. Snakes lurk everywhere.

snake eating squirrel

Predator and Prey

Coyotes are plentiful. The dogs break into a discordant chorus when they hear their wild cousins yapping on the outskirts of the “safe” zone the dogs have established. Last year a wiley bobcat ate more than his fair share of our chickens in spite of Badger’s diligent guard. And we eat a fair share of the game that abounds in our hills.

For the time being, we have a balance, a harmony. While we do enforce a boundary around the small space we’ve carved out to call our own, we don’t seek out to kill animals like snakes, coyotes and bobcats, as many people I know do, because we acknowledge that these mountains are just as much theirs as this safe zone around the house is ours. When I ramble around on the mountain, usually camera in hand and down on all fours (or even belly) to get close to the plants, I’m in the wildlife’s home and I’m respectful of that. It doesn’t mean I’ll submit to becoming prey, but it does mean I won’t kill just because our paths cross. I’ve never encountered a situation that required more of me than patience.

The following is from my old blog. This post was originally posted on July, 2010:

Youngest is outside right now, whittling on the mechanism of his newly cut frog gig. It’s made from a 6′ sapling section, about 2″ diameter. He needed to cut it a few feet longer, but this is his first effort and I’m not about to discourage him now. When he gets to putting it through trials, he’ll find out if his barbs were sturdy enough or the shaft long enough and make adjustments accordingly on his next attempt.

At first thought, to many, what he is doing sounds barbaric and cruel.

How far removed we, as a society, have become from our origins as nomads and hunter/gatherers. Nowadays, most of us never think twice about the food we put into our mouths, not to consider whether it was once a living thing nor about the idea that it died so that we might eat.

We live each day in a world of predator and prey relationships, and yet rarely notice. The project my son has embarked upon is unabashedly ‘predator’ in nature. And I guess what gives me that sense of satisfaction I am feeling, is that he knows it.

The same kid holds a kitten with a tender smile on his face and cheers for chicks hatching from eggs in the incubator.

Predator versus prey - predator wins on this one. I didn't get there soon enough to save my chicken.
Predator versus prey – predator wins on this one. I didn’t get there soon enough to save my chicken. But then the bigger predator (me) won, and that snake won’t be eating any more of my chickens.

First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it’s just part of my nature.


♥ If any of you read No Qualms or First Hunt, please leave a review. You’ll have my deep appreciation for it! ♥

 

The Ent Trees of Wild Ozark

This article had been posted over at Medium but I decided to move it back home where it belongs.

Special Trees

Two special trees grace the dirt road where I live. There are more trees like this here and there on our own acreage, tree-beings, or trees that appear and do more than trees appear to normally do.

Of course, the knowing that these trees “do” anything other than normal tree “being” is what puts me into that category sometimes referred to by others as … well, crazy.

This relationship I have with the land and inhabitants is part of my purpose in being. I can’t explain it to someone who doesn’t “get” it, but it’s the way I connect to the Divine. Some get that from churches and religions. I get it from Nature.

But that only explains what I get from the relationship. True relationships are a give and a take, and not always balanced. In my opinion, what I get from it is more than I give. I give respect, consideration, and a voice.

I started not to post more than just these pictures because I worry sometimes about what other people think of me. But that would be cheating on the “voice” part of what I give in this relationship. I’m trying to not care so much whether anyone thinks I’m crazy or not. It is what it is.

Anyway, now that the excuses have been made and you know what comes next might sound as if I’ve lost my mind, I want to talk about Ent Trees.

Ent Trees

According to Wikipedia, Tolkien took the Anglo-Saxon phrases orþanc enta geweorc = “work of cunning giants” and eald enta geweorc = “old work of giants” and applied it to describing the trees in his story, settling on the word “ent”. It’s a fitting word for them.

Others who notice these sorts of things might call these particular trees “plant devas” or have other phrases to describe them. Or maybe most people don’t notice them at all. I suppose it’s one of my own peculiarities to notice such things, but I think anyone who lets their imaginations free can see at least these two tree-beings.

Those with mouths, sing

singing ent tree

She makes me smile every time I pass her on the road. Today I stopped the car and got out to to see if I could hear what song the singing tree sang. The words aren’t a language I can translate into words. My very being vibrates with the resonance. I feel more than hear the notes, and the center where it is felt is in my heart. Her music may fall on deaf ears for the most part when it comes to humans passing on the road below, but I hear her loud and clear.

This tree isn’t singing for me. She sings because her tree-heart inspires her to do so. It’s her purpose, at least one of them, and I am simply one who hears, understands, and appreciates what she does. Who knows her importance within the tree community?

I’m sad to report that this lovely spirit has left her tree form. A devastating flash flood and storm put her on the ground in Mid June 2015.

One thing I do know is this. Trees are among the greatest messengers on earth. Wherever trees exist, a message can be delivered from tree to tree. And where trees are sparse, the wind normally blows and the message can be handed over to the wind. Trees interact with other sorts of carriers — birds and insects work above ground, and below, the practically invisible world of fungi network from tree to tree across the land. Even the very water rinsing over leaves and limbs can carry messages as it settles into the ground and penetrates the earth to move back into the cycle of regeneration. Perhaps the trees that sing are also distributing messages to the Universe.

Those with ears, listen

Among the trees, there are singers, like the one I showed you in the photo above. There are also listeners. This one listens to everything that transpires in his forest. Surely he also hears the song which emanates from the singing tree up the road. Perhaps those with ears are listening to messages from the Universe.

listening ent tree

 

Calling all Ents

Have you seen any ent trees? If you have photos, share them with me by posting them at your blog and leaving me a comment with your links. I’d love to see them. As I find pages with lovely trees, I’ll add them to the list below:

Where do Writers get Ideas? My Ideas Come from the Gaps

Where do Writers get Ideas?

People often ask me where I get ideas for my stories. I’d never really paid attention to it much, because I’ve always had a fairly active imagination and it comes naturally to think of the things I write. Where do writers get ideas?

But I did notice something the other day, and it stuck out as an ‘ah-ha’ moment. *That* is how ideas come to me, and that’s where they come from.

I don’t get ‘whole’ ideas (for whole stories) from single inspirations. I get snippets. The snippets together make the framework for my story.

To give you an idea of how ideas work for me, think of how a CD player fills in over minor scratches so that you don’t hear a skip when it’s playing. It just sounds like the music is playing normally, and the better the player, the better it is at filling in the tiny little gaps that are caused by scratches.

What exactly was it that I noticed that *ah-ha* day? as it whizzed through and skimmed across the top of the fence into the pasture beyond.
autumn leaves 2 autumn leaves 1autumn leaves 3
Or the blast of leaves could have been made by a beast smashing leaves out of his way, something giant and from another dimension, lost and bumbling through the trees, stepping over fences as he crashed out onto the road from the undergrowth…

My ideas come from the gaps.

***

If you write, where do your ideas come from? If you’re not a writer but a reader, where did you think our ideas came from?

Here’s another post about how nature inspires some of my ideas.

Winter is Here in the Ozarks

First it was the frost flowers. They showed up last week during our first really cold spell.
 frost flower frost flower
Then yesterday as we were on our way home from grocery shopping the first sleet began. Soon after the plinking sounds of tiny ice balls on the windshield gave way to the silent brush of snowflakes.

Winter is Here

snow in the ozarks

 

 

Welcome to the all-new Wild Ozark™ website!

logo

Today’s my birthday and it’s the coldest one I can ever remember having! Temps have barely gotten above freezing today and snow clouds are building overhead.

I’ve been working hard since I got up this morning to bring this new site online before the end of the day. It might not happen today though, because it’s already a quarter until seven and I’m still not ready yet. And besides, I think this might affect my blog subscribers and I need to give at least a little warning before I throw everyone overboard like that. Hopefully, subscribers will just be reassigned to the new one since it’s going to occupy the same space the old one did (when it’s migrated), but I’m not sure. Right now I’m building it in a separate folder on a separate installation of WordPress, so there’s no telling what’ll happen when I pull the plug on the old one. Yes, that makes me a tad nervous.

Why go through all this trouble?

Well, my old site is … old. I have more than a thousand posts to that blog and when I first started I was new at blogging and didn’t know a thing about SEO. Apparently Google takes offense at repetition of post titles and topics, and they take serious offense at what they consider to be “poor content”.

I take exception to the idea that my content was poor, but since this site is crucial to our business I have to consider the impact of old convoluted blogs to the bottom line. I’ve been blogging since at least 2003, possibly earlier. When I first came to WordPress I already had a Blogger blog several years old. And so I imported it. And then later I went online with the WildOzark.com domain and moved the blog over to the self-hosted version of WordPress and imported again.

Until September my search engine ranking was great and I had a healthy stream of traffic in spite of the jumble of topics, categories and tags. And then the latest update with Google’s inner workings happened and the bottom fell out. As I set about repairing the old site I came to the gradual understanding that it just might not be possible to fix it. Not without a huge amount of work and hair-pulling, anyway.

And so now I’m almost ready to swap the old out for the new and move forward from here. The old posts aren’t going to be deleted from the web entirely, but they won’t be mixed in with this new website. I’ll put a link to the new location in the sidebar later, and as I get time I’ll move some of my favorite posts over here to the new blog.

For those of you who’ve been with me all these years, if you have any old favorites you want me to bring over be sure to let me know. Most of my current traffic comes from search engines, and most of those are folks looking for information about American ginseng. So I really don’t think anyone’s going to miss the old site very much.

My focus has always been on Nature, and that will remain. It’s just going to be a little better organized. The fiction is already in process of being moved to my Fantasy site where I’m learning to do podcasts! I’m enjoying that a lot and plan to add many more.

Once I’m done migrating the website I’ll get back to working on the third chapter of “Into the Ginseng Wood” and when I’m done with that series I have a novel and a flash fiction collection to work on.

So this is the beginning of a brand new year and I’m kicking it off with a brand new site. I hope to see you again in the near future!