A Guest Post from Martin James Wood

My guest today is sharing his nature essay. Please welcome Martin James Wood to your Wild Ozark space. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the beauty – From the Cabin’s Front Porch.

From the Cabin's Front Porch by Martin James Wood
Image copyright Martin James Wood

From The Cabin’s Front Porch

Written by: Martin James Wood

This evening while sitting on the cabin’s front porch, nestled along the forest’s edge and some tucked away farm fields and age-old pastures, I decide to set here and not move, and watch the evening pass…

The leaves among the trees are as dark, of a green, as they are going to be in this late time of summer.

The rising and falling fields of corn are flaunting their yellow tassels in neatly textured rows,,, and the lush soybean fields exhibit their rich dark green color, as the wind gently caresses the sea of green maturation like the subtle waves of the ocean.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the red cherry crabapples have come on, sporting the trees with tiny red dots amongst the faded green branches.

The indefinite droning of the crickets with their hypnotic chorus continues on into the later evening.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can hear an occasional crow caw, as it loudly breaks the evening’s sound of the monotonous crickets. I recognize this sound, as this is a sound heard often in the fall season, among these cornfields and woods.

From the cabin’s front porch, I gaze out at the blue sky backdrop which compliments the contrasting elements of the dark green trees standing behind the yellowed tipped corn.

A cooler breeze cuts through the trees in the warm humid air. I become aware of a sudden interrupting burst of some robins cackling in the near distance…

From the cabin’s front porch, I perceive the quiet from all around… No sounds from any roads, near or far,,, as was one of the reasons why I had chosen to settle on this place, many decades ago…

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the beach nuts are starting to show themselves with their prickly husks of soft needles, which I know will eventually turn firmer as the fall season progresses.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the oaks’ branches are heavy with their crop of nuts and red stemmed thick green leaves.

Higher up the mountain, the winds pick up and softly sweep along the lonely tops of the lofty timber…

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the goldenrod has begun to dress up the untouched forgotten meadows.

From the cabin’s front porch, I hear geese break the silence from above, as they effortlessly pass over, performing their early ensemble of autumn… Afterwards, I hear a couple doves cooing somewhere along the edges of a distant mountain pasture…

From the cabin’s front porch, I hear a family cow bawling for its supper from the valley below, in the evenings now cooler air…

From the cabin’s front porch, I also can see the mighty oaks’ acorns have begun to let go of the branches… The azaleas’ leaves have begun to turn their crimson red,,, and the sumacs are full of their red fruit.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the hardwood cherry is producing its pea-like berries of red and some already dark violet.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the dark green rhododendrons have begun to curl their leaves, and the laurel leaves have turned their lighter yellow-green which are pointing upward toward the sky.

The sun gently shines across the rolling farm fields spread out beyond the cabin’s porch and lights the land ablaze with golds and yellows as the sky farther off gradually transforms from hues of blue to orange, yellow and brown.

From the cabin’s front porch, I listen to the peepers as they begin to fade in with the symphonic monotonicity of the crickets,,, as the cool late summer evening fades out, with the approaching of dusk…

Now standing,,, very still in front of my chair,,, and removing my hat as I stare a long while into the night… Humbly, I walk toward the door and lightly grasp the handle while taking one last glance over my shoulder. Softly opening the door, I slowly step inside,,, from the cabin’s front porch…

 


Nature enthusiast Martin James Wood is an outdoor writer and blogger for The Wood’s Edge. He has spent his life among the forests and woods, admiring nature with a camera and pen. His writing, artistry, and outdoor photography celebrate nature’s simplicity and beauty. A Pennsylvania native, Martin James is a loving father and husband, and a friend to our nation’s forests who believes in protecting and preserving our wild lands.

All rights for this post, including the image, belong to The
Wood’s Edge. Do not reblog or copy without permission from the creator.
I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

The Ozark Winds of March and Strong Signs of Spring

The Ozark winds of March have been blowing strong since maybe before March even began. But last night really trumped all of our weather-related excitement.

I knew there was a tornado possibility before I went to sleep. The weather forecasts said so and showed the ominous red box surrounding a storm predicted to track in our direction.

But it was still at the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas and by 10pm I didn’t care so much anymore and just wanted to go to sleep.

Heads Up

At 11 pm Rob woke me up by shining the phone screen in my direction so I could see where it was then.

At about the same time my own phone started flashing text notifications from friends to give me a heads-up. I’ve never seen so many people of Kingston awake and all talking to each other so late at night.

Next thing I knew, Rob was putting on clothes and shoes. It appeared that it was not time to go to sleep after all.

Next thing I did was call my parents who were staying down in the camper and encouraged them strongly to come up to the house. Then called my eldest and let him know he might want to take cover. Then messaged my daughter and got no response, so I figured she had already taken cover. She does not sleep during weather like this, and was more likely aware of the situation than the rest of us.

The youngest was out of harm’s way down at college in Russellville, and I was glad to know where he was and that he would be safe.

Ozark Winds of March

The storm approached with bells and whistles. Not literally, of course. But with a lightning show that would have put an ELO concert to shame. Dating myself with that reference, I know. Hail pommeled the porch and it rained down hard. And the winds blew.  It was all quite noisy.

Then all of a sudden it was quiet. Except for the lightning there was nothing at all happening. No wind. No hail. No rain. Frogs and coyotes and owls kept their thoughts to themselves, too.

The quiet lasted maybe a minute, maybe less.

Look for me in Oz

We in the house half-jokingly agreed to look for each other in Oz if the unthinkable happened.

The roar started to the west from out past Penitentiary mountain and grew louder as it barreled closer. Then the rain, wind, hail and lightning resumed. The mountain across the valley doesn’t have a name that I know of, but the road that runs across the top is called “the spine” or “backbone”. That’s where the wind went.

It tore through the treetops, rushing like a lion bringing down a zebra.

A broken crocus, casualty of the Ozark winds of March.
A broken crocus, casualty of the Ozark winds of March.

Then it was all normal again. A little breeze, a little rain. But the roar was gone.

This morning I found out that indeed a tornado had passed along our quiet back road but hadn’t touched down. It waited a few more miles to do that, out near Parthenon. As far as I know, no one was injured, thank goodness.

Is it Spring Yet?

And the sun is shining and flowers are blooming today as if nothing at all happened.

Strong signs of spring are showing. The elephant garlic I’d planted in November are looking strong. Green onions are prime for the picking. Raspberry brambles are putting on leaves. Violets, dandelions, henbit, crocus, and the peach trees are all blooming their hearts out.

I hope we don’t get a late ice storm or hard freeze.

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I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

100-word Flash Fiction

Ever heard of 100-word flash fiction? I’m not sure how many of you were following this blog way back when I used to call it “Madison Woods” and used to write a lot more fiction.

Well, writing anything remotely resembling a complete thought, let alone a story, is difficult with only 100 words. It’s great exercise, though.

Getting Back to Fiction

And now I think I’ll dip my toes into doing it a bit more often. I won’t blog about it here after today, though, so if you want to hear about my fiction life, follow me at my Rural Fantasy blog.

I’ve also been writing #vss365 tweets. This is even shorter than 100-words. You can find me there as @erthwitch, if you’d like to connect with my alter ego at Twitter sometimes.

The 100-word Flash Fiction group called Friday Fictioneers

I started a round-robin sort of group on my blog at some point near 2011 or 2010. I found some willing writers through Twitter, mostly, and we started a weekly thing. We’d share short stories, very short stories, based on whatever photo I’d pick for that week. Then we’d read and comment on each other’s work.

Those were fun times, but it grew and soon became a lot of work to maintain. I wanted to veer off into another direction for a while.

Fairy Blog Mother

That’s when Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, one of the Fictioneers, stepped up. She adopted my baby and gave it a new home at her blog about four years ago now, maybe five. Since that time it’s grown exponentially. I noticed today that she’s known as the Fairy Blog Mother now 🙂 She’s an excellent hostess and guide. Herding cats is one of her specialties, I know.

Current Iteration of Friday Fictioneers

If you like to read flash fiction of the 100-word sort, here’s a link to today’s participants of the Friday Fictioneers. Feel free to join in if you like, but first go read the introduction to how it works over at Rochelle’s blog.

Here’s the photo that this week’s stories are based on:

The photo prompt for my 100-word rural fantasy fiction story.
Click on it to go to my story at my fiction blog. Photo copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Not Abandoning the Non-Fiction

I’m not done with the nonfiction, though. Up next on the agenda is an article on Lobelia inflata for the North American Native Plant Society, which will also include one of my drawings. That will be published in summer, and another article on Green Dragon and Jack-in-the-Pulpit are on the docket for 2018.

Also on the to-do list is to revamp the DIY Ginseng Habitat and Site Assessment Guide. That’s my best selling title, and it’s in need of some cleanup.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Get Outside in Nature! America’s National Parks Celebration

Every year, the U.S. National Park Service offers free park entrance days at America’s National Parks.  Today was a free day, and I’ve missed the boat for that one. The next free days are April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends.

I was recently inspired by Cotopaxi to celebrate the Centennial for America’s National Parks. Cotopaxi is a benefits corporation that sells hiking backpacks and other bag-type gear to support organizations involved in helping alleviate world poverty. It’s been a really long time since I’ve visited any of the national parks, so I decided to share our hike to the King’s River hiking trail to join in the celebration of the Centennial.

America’s National Parks
Get Outside in Nature! America's National Parks Centennial Celebration

Free Admissions for Veterans

Rob is retired from the USAF and one of his benefits is free admission to all of America’s National Parks. One of our bucket list items is to visit them all. Maybe that’s “several” of our bucket list items!

Double-Edged Sword

But it would be with mixed feelings if we do actually get to make the rounds to all of the parks. From what I’ve seen in the news, America’s National Parks are severely over-trafficked.

I don’t see how we can keep them beautiful and wild with so many feet tromping through them. And if we visited, that would just be four more feet added to the milieu.

Anyway, our local parks are maybe not so majestic as say, Yosemite or Glacier National Parks, but we have nature and beauty in plenty supply.

Kings River Falls

On the last Sunday in January 2016 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.

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 is 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 is very rocky. It is not handicap accessible.

I’m Always Falling Behind

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).

 

 Rocks Everywhere

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! Here’s another blog post from someone else about this hiking trail. His pics are from summer 2014.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Sunrises, Opportunities and Rising Early

Beautiful sunrise. Seeing the sunrise is one of many daily opportunities.

Beautiful sunrise. Seeing it is one of many daily opportunities.

I have lots of photos of Gloria, the tree silhouetted above. But most of them are not about the sky behind her far-reaching limbs. Most are simply about the tree herself and how beautiful she is clothed in her various attires of the seasons. This one is about the sunrise.

Weather Oddities

The weather lately has been very odd. Yesterday the temps were nearly 70*F and today it’s milder, around 50. It’ll be in the low 20’s tonight. But by this weekend we’re expecting 79*F on Saturday. This is absurd weather for February!

Where’s the snow and ice, or at least the cold? I don’t like to stay cold for long periods of time, but at one time I enjoyed the distinct seasons of the Ozarks. The end of one is an opportunity to embrace the beginning of the next. I like definitive beginnings and ends.

Now it seems as if the seasons are trying to all compete with each other to represent themselves each during the same week.

Sunrises, Opportunities and Rising Early

This morning the sunrise was spectacular for a few minutes. It’s a good thing the camera was handy and ready to go because if I would have had to dig it out of a camera bag and change a battery, I would have missed it.

Sunrises are very likely often beautiful and I just don’t know it. There’s a mountain to the east and not far away. It blocks any view of an early sunrise, so it’s not until later in the morning that the sun peeks over the top.

Or it could be that I just haven’t been getting out of bed and functional early enough to see the colors lately.

Lots to do today, though, so it was an 0500 day for me.

It’s always a better day when I get up early. Rob is almost always up and warming by the fire for an hour before I join him in the mornings.

Too many opportunities pass me by because I just don’t have the time to pursue them. I’d have more time if I’d just get up early.

The list

My list of things to do represents opportunities, too. But often this kind of opportunity masquerades as frustrations.

  • Reconcile my QB data to reality – what it says and what the business checking account says are two different things.
  • Ledger summaries – not sure how easy it’s going to be to get my data out of QuickBooks. It’s all in there now, but unless the CPA can make heads or tails of my logic I think I still need at least some ledger summaries on paper.
  • Make jelly – the ginseng jelly is really, really, good and I’m making more of it today. I need to use all the extract I made because I’m not sure if I can freeze it or if that will somehow impact the ginsenoside makeup.
  • Work on website- I doubt I’ll get to this today, but the narrow layout of the content and the close proximity of the sidebar bothers me. I don’t know offhand how to fix that and it’ll take some trial and error time, I’m sure.
  • Newsletters – I’m past the point of having them ready for an early-in-the-month delivery. Now it’s looking like mid- or late-month. Another good reason to get out of bed earlier.

Upcoming

In a couple of weeks I have an appointment with someone at the Arkansas Food Innovation Center to discuss what I need to do in order to be able to sell my ginseng jelly from the website or in other retail outlets.

Wish me luck on this. I’m not sure of the expenses involved and with our shoestring budget making this goal  might not be possible for a while. But at least I’ll have some information.

In the meantime, the delicious Wild Ozark Ginseng Jelly will be for sale at the market booth on the square in Kingston on a nice sunny day in the next week or two.

Let me know if you want me to notify you when I’ll be out there.

I’ll also have it, if there’s any left (along with ginseng seedlings and other plants, books, and art) at the Huntsville Farmer’s Market beginning in late April or early May, and at the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique at the gardens here. I’ll have schedules for all of that once the season is underway.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Watching for Witch Hazel Flowers

Witch Hazel Flowers

Witch hazel flowers are an interesting sight to behold. The petals on the small flowers are thin and wild. The shrub blooms during the most unlikeliest time of the year.

It is one of my favorite plants in the Ozarks. She is an untamed rebel, even if she  or her hybridized cousins do grow well in urban gardens or hedgerows.

Two Wild Species

We have two varieties of witch hazel here in the Ozarks. One blooms in late fall and the other blooms in late winter.

H. virginiana

Hamamelis virginiana is by far the most abundant here on our land. This witch hazel blooms in late fall with spidery yellow flowers. Sometimes you’ll even see it blooming after the leaves have dropped off.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers and autumn color.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers and autumn color.

H. virginiana grows in many areas east of the Rockies in the United States, usually around water’s edge or in rich, moist woodlands.

Witch hazel leaves in summer. (H. virginiana)
Witch hazel leaves in summer. (H. virginiana)

H. vernalis

The other species is called Ozark Witch Hazel, or Vernal Witch Hazel. This one is endemic only to the Ozarks and blooms in late winter or very early spring. These witch hazel flowers are more of a reddish, orange color. I’ve heard they have a delightful fragrance, too, but I haven’t caught them in full bloom to get a firsthand experience.

Ozark witch hazel flowers, just before the petals opened or right after they fell off. This photo was taken in Feb. 2015.
Ozark witch hazel flowers, just before the petals opened or right after they fell off. This photo was taken in Feb. 2015.

I know where some are, though, and am going to go check on them today or tomorrow. If I’m lucky, I’ll add the pics to this post. And let you know if, indeed, they do smell nice.

Update Feb. 6, 2017: Found some!
Vernal witch hazel blooming on Feb. 6, 2017
Vernal witch hazel blooming on Feb. 6, 2017

Rob and I went out to do a little exploring along the upper Felkins creek and we found some blooming! And YES, they do smell nice. The scent isn’t powerful but it is sweet.

During early spring of 2015 I took cuttings and was having some success with them, but an unusual landslide-producing epic flood wiped out the nursery that summer.

When I do find them, I plan to take some cuttings. If they root, I’ll have some to offer in the Nature Boutique nursery this year.

You can read more about the Ozark Witch Hazel in this article at the Springfield News-Leader.

Witch Hazel in my Fiction

In the first book of the Bounty Hunter series, Treya tries chewing on a witch hazel twig. I’m going to cut a twig tomorrow and see if it’s as nasty as she thinks it is. If it’s not so bad, I’ll have to rewrite this scene.

Update: When we found the flowers blooming, I did taste a twig and it was NOT unpleasant and it did not pucker my mouth. I’ll have to update that passage.

 

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

An Herbal Remedy for Winter Crud featuring Mullein, Ginseng, Beebalm, and Echinacea

Here’s my recipe for an herbal remedy I use every year to combat what we’ve come to call “Winter Crud”. We also take it at the first sign of anything that feels like trouble coming on. This year’s formula uses mullein, echinacea, ginseng, and beebalm. I’ll update and repost this every year to tell you which herb’s I’m using and whether I’ve changed anything about how I’m making it.

My recipe for this year's Winter Crud syrup.
click to enlarge or print

Ugh. Winter Crud

I’m sure there’s a real name for it, but I don’t know what it is. We just call it the “winter crud” or “creeping crud” or “that *bleeping* cough that lingers forever”. I don’t usually go to the doctor because I’m worried that there might be even more serious ailments lurking inside the office waiting room than the one currently plaguing me. So I generally rely on my trusty herbal allies unless it’s acute or serious.

The symptoms are always the same: deep congestion that’s hard to cough up, sometimes a low fever for a day or two at the beginning, and a few weeks of long-lingering congested cough.

Inevitably someone in the family gets it. Usually the whole household gets it. And so I like to have it ready to go. Most years I make extra for Christmas gifts, but this year I procrastinated too long.

My reservations

Generally I don’t blog much about my herbal remedies because it feels like slippery ground when it comes to sharing that information outside my own little network of like-minded family and friends. But I’ve really had great results with this one and thought I’d share.

Please make sure you research these herbs to find out if they’re suitable for you and your conditions. Just the sugar alone is enough to send a diabetic into crisis.

I am not a doctor and am not prescribing or advising you to try this remedy. I’m just sharing how I make it and what I use it for. If you want me to make some for you, though, I will do that. See the link at the bottom of this post.

Dried mullein and echinacea root getting ready to decoct.
Took the photo before adding the ginseng. Dried mullein and echinacea root getting ready to decoct.

The Ingredients

The precise list of ingredients I use for anything at all changes according to what I managed to gather the summer and fall before.

Today’s ingredient list for this year’s Winter Crud syrup features wild American ginseng root (Panax quinquefolius), mullein leaves (Verbascum thapsus), beebalm flower, stem, and leaf (Monarda fistulosa), and echinacea root, leaf stem, and flower (Echinacea purpurea).

Wildcrafting

All of the herbs except the cinnamon were responsibly foraged from right here at Wild Ozark. I never take more than a small percentage of ginseng (or any other roots) from a colony. When taking flowers, I always leave half behind for the pollinators. There is no shortage of mullein anywhere so I am less concerned with conservation of that herb.

I had blackberry syrup on hand from a failed batch of jelly this past summer, so I’m using it for the sugar content and for flavor. You can skip that ingredient and add back a cup of sugar to the recipe.

The Most Important Ingredient

The syrup must have mullein for it to be useful for this remedy at all, and thankfully mullein is easily found almost all year long here. I think the beebalm and ginseng also add a lot to the effectiveness. But if all I had was mullein, I’d go with it. And if sugar is an issue for you, it works just as well as a decoction alone. You’ll have to use it within a few days because the sugar is a preservative. It just won’t taste as good, but it’s a tolerable flavor.

I give instructions on how to make a decoction in my book 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing, but that one is for witch hazel tonic.  Here’s a procedure for the mullein decoction recipe  you can download. It’s in PDF format. Just save it to your hard-drive or print it out.

I’d love it if you’d “pin” it to Pinterest for me:

Wild Ozark's Mullein/Beebalm decoction procedure

Mullein needs to be strained more thoroughly than most other herbs because of the hairs on the leaves. Make the decoction with the mullein, ginseng, and echinacea roots. Then add the leafy parts of herbs in the last phase of making the decoction, just before the final reduction.

DIY?

You could make it yourself and it’s a great project to do so. If you try it and need to ask questions just email me. If you don’t have the ingredients or don’t want to spend a day stirring the cauldron, you can buy a pint from me.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Hiking to the Wild Ozark Corner Bluff

Not too long ago I posted about our exploration of the bluffs along the driveway. This time we went hiking to what I call the “Corner Bluff”.

Getting to this one is fairly difficult if approached from the ground level, so instead of climbing up, we took the 4-wheeler to the top of the mountain and hiked down to it.

We saw Mossy ledges while hiking to the Corner Bluff.
Mossy Ledges

What makes it a Corner Bluff?

I call it that because it exists on a topographical corner of a mountain that’s partially on our plot of land. It’s not at the corner of our property, which is a square in theory, but on a physical corner of a mountain.

Rocks and Walls

There are big boulders and tall walls in this spot.

A really tall rock. Had to get on the ground to get the top in the frame.
A really tall rock. Had to get on the ground to get the top in the frame.

 

Rob standing on the ledge of one of the walls. Helps to give you an idea for size context.
Rob standing on the ledge of one of the walls. Helps to give you an idea for size context.

Some of the rocks in one of the areas look like faces, complete with eyes, noses and mouths. I didn’t get any good pics of those, but I did a while back on one of our other hiking trips in 2011 or 2010. If I can find the pictures I’ll post them later.

Green even Mid-winter

Ferns growing in very little soil
Ferns growing in very little soil.

 

Moss and lichens on the rocks
Moss and lichens on the rocks.

 

Fruiting bodies on the moss collect the morning's fog droplets
Fruiting bodies on the moss collect the morning’s fog droplets.

 

The moss acted like a sponge. Water drained slowly down the rock bluffs through the moss. We don’t usually go hiking without bringing water, and the sight of all of it percolating made me even thirstier.

If the thirst became too terrible, I suppose we could have gathered enough sips from the moss to save our lives in an emergency.

Moss covered wall at the Corner Bluff
Moss covered wall at the Corner Bluff

Trees

This twisted little tree is growing on top of the rock.
This twisted little tree is growing on top of the rock.
A tree skeleton full of texture, shades and lines. I love tree skeletons almost as much as the living ones.
A tree skeleton full of texture, shades and lines. I love tree skeletons almost as much as the living ones.

 

This gigantic oak is growing underneath and between the rocks. I can only imagine how far the roots must go between the layers in order to hold it up.

Fav Hiking Finds: Nooks and Crannies

My favorite things are the hidden places like this nook between the rocks.
My favorite things are the hidden places like this cranny between the rocks.

 

Rob seems to particularly like looking in the nooks where critters like bears and bobcats could be sleeping.
Rob seems to particularly like looking in the nooks where critters like bears and bobcats could be sleeping.

Odd Rocks

This rock looks just like a knob for a cabinet pull on the face of one of the bluff walls.
This rock looks just like a knob for a cabinet pull on the face of one of the bluff walls. I didn’t pull on it for fear of breaking it off.

 

We don't have much limestone on our property, but this does look like it has a lot of calcium/magnesium because of the holes. Most of our rocks are sandstone.
We don’t have much limestone on our property, but this does look like it has a lot of calcium/magnesium because of the holes. Most of our rocks are sandstone.

 

This rock wasn't at the bluff but we saw it earlier on our way to the bluff. The rocks in that spot have a lot of iron veins in them. Odd-looking, huh?
This rock wasn’t at the bluff but we saw it earlier on our way to the bluff. The rocks in that spot have a lot of iron veins in them. Odd-looking, huh?

Getting Back to the Top

It’s funny how you don’t notice how far you’ve gone when you’re walking down hill or over the sides of walls until it’s time to go back to the top. I was worn out by the time we had the 4-wheeler back in sight.

Hope you enjoyed the photo-essay of our rock bluff exploration!

Unrelated Note

I heard spring peepers yesterday and this morning. It’s the middle of January. I should not be hearing spring peepers.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Feathered Rovers, a Poem

A little time alone watching a flock of birds in the woods today inspired a poem.

My poetry is infrequent and when the drive to write one hits, I just have to get it out of my head. And since I’m not a practiced poet, lol, it never has a formal structure. Just free verse. Some imagery I needed to record, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Feathered Rovers, a free verse poem by Madison Woods
click to enlarge
I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Ginseng Garden Open to Public May 2017

Beginning in May 2017 there will be a place to go for anyone interested in seeing ginseng growing in a natural environment.

The Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden

This is a true wild habitat where you can see and learn about American ginseng in a natural environment.

The ginseng and companion plants are sleeping away the winter, awaiting the public in this "virtually wild" habitat at Wild Ozark.
The ginseng and companion plants are sleeping away the winter, awaiting the public in this “virtually wild” habitat at Wild Ozark.

A Re-Established Habitat

A few decades ago this land was logged but not clear-cut. Then it was unoccupied for a number of years. Between being unoccupied (which made the land a sort of “free for all”) and the ecosystem destruction that comes with logging, most of the wild ginseng was here was wiped out.

Still, some pockets survived. Microhabitats that provided the perfect environment for ginseng persisted because they existed in spots too difficult to reach for loggers.

The ethical diggers who frequented these hills protected patches they found by pulling off the leaves of plants they didn’t dig. They made a point to not dig all they found in a habitat. They did this so they could come back year after year to harvest without taking too large a toll on the population.

ginseng in summer with red berries
ginseng in summer with red berries

It helped that this all occurred and then we came along to occupy the land before the frenzy caused by the popular television shows romanticizing the pillage of American ginseng.

The Garden Habitat

In the area I’m using for the public garden there was no ginseng left and very few of the companions because of the logging that happened long ago. Now the trees have grown back and although the transition from pioneer cedars to mixed hardwood is still underway, the area is once again suitable for plants that enjoy the deep shade, like ginseng, goldenseal, ferns, bloodroot and cohoshes.

I’ve made trails, planted “virtually wild” ginseng, transplanted companion plants, and labeled or marked everything (this will be ongoing). Many thanks to my friend Layne Sleeth and her husband Brian for the help with labor and donation of maidenhair ferns!

Unique and Destination-worthy

I don’t know if there’s anything else like it in the country. If so, it hasn’t shown up in my internet searches to find one. If you know of any public ginseng gardens in natural habitats, please let me know so I can link to it here. We can create a “ginseng trail” for ginseng lovers like the wine trails from cellar to cellar enjoyed by wine lovers. It would be interesting to travel from habitat to habitat in other areas to note the differences between them all.

Details

Where is it?

CALL OR EMAIL AHEAD use the contact information (click here or see menu) to get in touch and I’ll mail the address and directions.

There is NO CELLPHONE SIGNAL in this area, so make sure to call before you leave Kingston or Huntsville to make sure I’m here if you haven’t emailed ahead of time to set an appointment. You will need a truck or car without low profile tires. If it has rained a lot recently, the bridges could be flooded. See below about “About the Road to get Here” for details about the drive here.

What are the Open Hours and Days?

For now, it is by appointment only. If the response to this project is great, I’ll set regular hours and days. I’ll always make the best effort I can to accommodate visitors, especially those who are travelling from a distance and are on tight schedules. CALL OR EMAIL AHEAD use the contact information (click here or see menu) to get in touch and I’ll mail the address and directions.

How Much does it Cost?

Free. I will have a donation can handy for those who are willing and able to support the garden. Anyone who donates $50 or more will get to pick one of my drawings to take home and have their names added to the “Friends of Wild Ozark” sign that will hang on the Nature Boutique.

$20/car for the optional escorted “Herb Drive” (see below)

About the Road to get Here

  • A long dirt road– Wild Ozark is in a very remote location. It is six miles down a dirt road. There are 6 low-water bridges to cross, so if it rains more than an inch or two, the road could become impassable.
  • Lots of photo opportunity– beautiful scenery to see along the roadside. You will see beautiful fields, pastures, old barns, old homesteads, forests, and possibly wildlife. You’ll definitely see a lot of beauty and tremendous biodiversity in plants.
  • Herb Drive – For $20/car you can take an “Herb Drive”- there are lots of plants and herbs of interest down this road. I will conduct a driving herb walk by meeting you at the front end of the road and escorting you back here with lots of stops along the way to get out and see plants like black cohosh, blue cohosh, green dragon, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild hydrangea, giant solomon’s seal, trout lilies, etc. Here’s a post I have about the plants and sights I often see and photograph on the way here.

Nearby Lodging

  • There are no nearby hotels, and the nearest rental cabins are about an hour away or more. Your best bet for hotels would be Rogers, Springdale, or Fayetteville. The cabin rentals at Azalea Falls are gorgeous.
  • Canoe, hike, and stay at Cedarcrest lodge in Ponca. There are other cabins in the Ponca area, too. Just do a Google search for “lodge in Ponca, Arkansas”. It’s about an hour and a half away. You’ll find almost everywhere is about an hour or two away.

The Nearest Town is Kingston, AR

In the town of Kingston there are places to eat and other things to see. Kingston is only 12 miles away, but it takes about 40 minutes to get there from here if you drive slow on the dirt road. Driving fast gets you there faster, but increases the odds of punctured tires and developing new rattles in your vehicle 🙂

  • The town square is tiny but teeming with antiques.
  • You’ll want to visit The Place on the Square. Make sure to go all the way to the back to see The Artroom Gallery, too.
  • And don’t miss Grandpa’s Antique store.
  • Look through the window if the bank isn’t open and you’ll see the old safe on display.
  • It’s okay to be amused at our micro-library, but don’t diss it. It’s come a long ways since the first one!
  • Dining options include The Valley Cafe, The Kingston Station, and Sugar Boogers which is a little farther north on Hwy. 21 near the junction of 412.

Visit the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique

The Nature Boutique is where you’ll be able to find ginseng and other plants for sale, nature arts & crafts, books, and hanging dried herbs & herbal remedies. It’s just an old storage container I’m converting to my shop. Right now everything is “under construction”, but there will be ginseng in the woods to see and plants to buy if you want them. Here’s a little schematic of the plan:

Plans for the Wild Ozark Boutique & Nursery
click to enlarge

Where else can you see ginseng?

You also can see American ginseng growing at the Compton Gardens in Bentonville, AR. Wild Ozark received a grant from United Plant Savers to install a sanctuary garden there. It’s still immature and will be for a few more years, but the little recreated habitat will fill out over the years. Each spring, we’ll bring new plants to replace the ones that don’t survive the squirrels or whatever other hazards might befall the plants in a tended garden.

There might also still be one specimen plant at the Ozark Folk Center’s Herb Garden in Mountainview, AR. It’s been many years since I’ve visited there, though, so can’t say for sure.

What’s the Difference between the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden and those others?

The garden here is a natural setting, it’s not a park in an urban environment just growing a few ginseng plants. Wild Ozark’s Ginseng Garden is a true habitat and demonstration of the ecosystem that supports wild American ginseng.

Email today and set a date to visit the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique & Ginseng Garden!

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods