The Sound of a Flock of Goldfinches

Today as I was driving the 4-wheeler down the driveway to go check the mail, I heard the sound of a thousand birds in the trees. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but maybe not. It was a big crowd of noisy American goldfinches flitting around the treetops by the gate.

A few days ago I saw a few male goldfinches, but not a whole bunch. The rest of the gang must have migrated over since then.

Listen to the Goldfinches

A noisy bunch of goldfinches in the trees.
A male American goldfinch in spring plumage.
Photo by Breck22 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32276284

Two Screech Owls in a Tree

This morning before I left the house to go to the post office, I briefly thought about whether I should grab the camera or not. I decided to not. It had been a few days since I’d last caught even a glimpse of the screech owl that lives by the gate. So I didn’t have enough hope to bother going back inside to get the camera.

Boy, what a mistake that was.

Screech Owls

I glanced over to the holey tree where the nest was, and like I thought, she wasn’t there. But then I saw the two spots of orange on the tree right outside the home-tree.

And there I was, owls in broad daylight, with no good camera on hand. So I got this pic with my iPhone in case I never got the chance for a better one.

2 little screech owls sitting in a tree.

I debated whether or not to bother trying to go back to the house for my real camera, wondered whether or not I could reasonably expect them to still be there when I got back down to the gate. Our driveway is not short, or smooth. So I’d have to go slow. But I decided to try.

Too Late

When I got back to the gate, after getting the camera, swapping out the lens, and making the slow journey down the driveway again, they were gone. At first my heart sank. My best opportunity ever for getting a good owl pic and I’d blown it.

But there they were, on the other tree, in a tangle of vines.

Two little screech owls hiding in a tangle of vines.

A Birds of Prey Project

I’m happy to have gotten the pictures for more than just because I love owls. The main focus in my art is birds of prey. Usually I have to get permission from other photographers to use their birds as subjects, but now I have one of my own. And that makes me happy.

Screech owls are on my list of Ozark Birds of Prey to paint. I’ll do a better one of them later, but I made a quick one for my grand-daughter Karter’s birthday. When I get the better one done, I’ll add it to this page, too.

Screech owl painting (quick version).

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

Black Gum autumn leaves, leaching plant pigments

Plant Pigments- in search of a stable green, the latest painting and the next show

Between getting the house clean today, since it’s raining and I couldn’t be outside weed-eating, I’ve been making a mess in the kitchen. People have to not take things at face value in this house. What looks like refreshing tea… just might not be. My kids know by now that not everything they see in my refrigerator or on the counters is meant to be eaten. More often it’s something to do with an herbal remedy in progress. Or plant pigments. Or rock dust tea.

It might look like something delicious... but it's pink sandstone dust. Gritty.
href=”https://www.wildozark.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/rock-dust-tea.jpg”> It might look like something delicious… but it’s pink sandstone dust. Gritty.[/
The pink sandstone project was a few weeks ago. Today I had the same equipment out to do some separating of some different ‘teas’.

Still Looking for Green

I’m always on the lookout for some plant or rock that will give me a green or blue paint. Today, entirely coincidentally, I might have found my green.

Will it last? This new paint made from plant pigment will undergo light-fast testing to see if it's stable. Fingers crossed!
“https://www.wildozark.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/green.jpg”> Will it last? This new paint made from plant pigment will undergo light-fast testing to see if it’s stable. Fingers crossed![/captio
So we’ll have to wait about a month to know whether this is a success or failure in my quest to find a stable green color for my palettes. If you want to stay updated on that, check back here or check out my new blog dedicated to the making of Paleo Paints. When I get the post up there, it’ll go into a lot more detail on how I’ve made the paint and what I do to light-test.

Update 8/17: I’m sad to report that it won’t take a month to know the answer. It isn’t going to last. Both the exposed and the strip in the dark are showing degradation.

My Latest Painting

I finished this fox the other day. Originally, my plan was to do three of them quickly so I could give them to the grandbaby girls for Christmas. But this little fox wasn’t easy and it took far longer than I thought it would. So what I’ll do is make prints of this one for them instead.

All colors are from paints I made using local resources right around the house. All but the brown-brown are in Collection No. 1.
://www.wildozark.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/finished-low-res.jpg”> All colors are from paints I made using local resources right around the house. All but the brown-brown are in Collection No. 1. The reddish brown is Nirvana and Intoxicating, which are in the collection. You can see all of the work I’ve done so far at my gallery page.

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The next Appearance

The Burnt Kettle booth will be at War Eagle this weekend, so come out to say hello. I’ll be there, probably shivering and hiding out from the rain inside the booth.

Next stop for Wild Ozark is at the Walton Arts Center Holiday Gift Market. I’ll have prints, paints, cards, and stickers available for sale. The cards are an affordable way to get a print, if you frame them rather than send them 🙂 I’ll have signed/numbered prints of Kestrel No. 1, Pelican No. 1, and Kestrel No. 2. Maybe I’ll have the prints back for the fox and crow by then too, but not sure. The dates for that show is Nov. 23 through Dec. 16.

Day 14: Nature Journal Series – Sunlight on Distant Hills

Sunlight on distant hills always makes for a pretty picture. It’s just hard to capture, whether by camera or pencil. This time I tried with my Prismacolor pencils.
Nature Journal Day 14- Sunlight on the Hillsides

About this journal entry

Some autumn seasons bring vivid colors, while others are quick and or less spectacular. Always, though, the sunlight favors certain hillsides while leaving others in the shadows of the cloudy skies. When this happens, the favored spot fairly shines with brilliance. It’s always so hard to capture that with my camera and proved equally hard to capture with the pencils.

Most of the drawings from that first year with the pencils uses only spot color, while the rest is black and gray. This time, though I used the same technique, it was almost an accurate rendering of how the landscape really looked. Time of day was dusk, color everywhere had faded – except for the sunlight on distant hills.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 13: Nature Journal Series

Signs of Life

Day 13-Signs of Life

About this journal entry

The signs of life during the coldest parts of winter always intrigue me. I love seeing the green grass shoots found under a layer of snow or peeking out from the shelter of tumbled rocks. I’m not sure why I left the chickweed uncolored in my drawing. I think I just wanted to focus on the grass. When I started drawing almost everything I did had a single focal point. Some techniques use blurring to achieve this, but I preferred to use color instead, leaving everything else in black and white.

Recent drawings are all color, but nature journal entries might always keep this method because it’s a lot quicker than trying to get the color right for all of the elements in a scene.

 

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 12 – Outline of an Ambitious Drawing

 

Day 12, The Outline of an Ambitious Drawing
I didn’t know how to capture the whole scene, so I just made an outline of the features. This is an old craggy maple tree on a bluff overhang by the creek.

About this journal entry

I started drawing (again) when my husband bought me a set of Prismacolor pencils for my birthday in 2015. Before that it had been decades since I last picked up an art utensil of any sort. I’ve yet to pick up a paintbrush again and probably won’t. There just isn’t enough time in a life to do all of the things I’d like to do.

Anyway, when I first started drawing again, and until this entry in the nature journal, I’d focused on single subjects- a tree, a leaf and rock, a patch of grass, etc. Something small in scope.

Well I wanted to capture a specific location, one I love. There’s an old maple tree growing on a short bluff with an overhang beneath it alongside the creek down our driveway. The tree isn’t large, but it’s craggy and has beautiful leaves in fall. Every year in May there is a patch of tiny orange mushrooms that spring up in the moss around her feet.

I didn’t have a clue how to draw the whole scene, so I just drew the outline. Coming back to this entry two and a half years later, I’m so glad I did at least get the outline. Now I think I can finish it. When I do, I’ll post the results as another day’s entry.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 11 – Nature Journal Series

A nature drawing for my Nature Journal series: Leaf on Water

About this journal entry

My son says my nature sketching looks like a turkey feather. It is not. It is a leaf half submerged in the water, haha. Can’t have the world at large making the same mistake.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 10: Nature Journal Series

Old Oak Tree

 

Day 10 from my nature journal series.

About this journal entry

I’m not sure this tree is a Post Oak, but she is old and her name is Gloria. Gloria graces our front yard and she has been there for probably 200 years. Drawing her was a challenge because I’ve never learned how to draw a tree so that the leaves are distinguishable. I’m not sure that’s possible, but I think the result captured the gist of what she looks like, at least. Her trunk is massive and the limbs are even more outstretched now. Each year she probably grows a couple more feet in diameter of the crown. The trunk grows more slowly but has still significantly increased in the thirteen years I’ve lived here.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 9: Nature Journal Series

Grapevine & Insect Observation

Wild Ozark Nature Journal Entry Day 9: Grape Leaf and Insect Observation

Nature Journal entry from Day 9.

About this journal entry

On Day 9 of my daily journaling stint, I didn’t feel like getting off of the porch and I wondered if I could find something nearby to draw and journal about.

Well, I found a good topic, but it was hard to draw the subject. At least it’s an interesting observation worth capturing in a journal entry 🙂

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 8: Nature Journal Series

Acorn on Weathered Stick

Wild Ozark Nature Journal Entry: Day 8, Acorn on Weathered Stick

 

 

Nature Journal entry from Day 8.

About this journal entry

On Day 8 of my daily journaling stint, I couldn’t help reflecting on the sounds of trees dying in the distance. Chainsaws and crashing punctuated the otherwise peaceful land.

I really dislike the amount of logging that happens around here. We have no old-growth forests left anymore. I know of only one spot where very old trees grow and it’s in a very hard to access place. You can only reach it by climbing bluffs, and the old trees at the top of that bluff are probably more than fifty years old.

Maybe they’re really old, because logging trucks can’t access it. Maybe that forest escaped even the days of dragging logs by mule.

The Ozarks once had a lot more pine trees mixed in with the deciduous oak and hickory, and in that hard to reach place there are large pine trees. This is why I think it might be one of the last original stands of our area.

In our front yard we have two very old oak trees. Both of them are likely more than a hundred years old. One of them are featured in a later Nature Journal entry.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

 

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 7: Nature Journal Series

Christmas Fern

Nature journal entry Day 7 Christmas Fern

 

About this journal entry

On Day 7 of my daily journaling stint, I decided to draw the Christmas fern. These ferns are often present in good ginseng habitat. So it’s known as a companion plant, or indicator plant, but I like it just because it stays green and pretty even through the winter.

I love ferns in general and continue trying to draw them more beautifully.

The thing about doing nature journaling on location is that sometimes there are circumstances going on around you that are distracting. I’m often sitting on cold, possibly fairly moist, ground. The seating is almost always marked with stones or pebbles that make it uncomfortable.

Body discomfort is something I can overcome fairly easily though. I started carrying a kitchen chair cushion with me when I knew the seating would be bad. A change of position often helps.

This time it was the sound of insects I couldn’t see or identify.

Learning to overcome distractions is a useful skill. So I try to appreciate the opportunity to get better at it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

 

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 6: Nature Journal Series

Lobelia inflata in Late Summer

Nature Journal entry, Day 6 - Lobelia inflata

 

About this journal entry

Lobelia inflata is one of my most treasured wild-crafted herbs. It grows around us here like a “weed”, and most would never think it to be a useful plant. It’s not very decorative or interesting to the average person.

The seeds are invaluable in my muscle spasm and cramp ointments or unguents. I’ve written about lobelia in other posts at my website and this past summer an article with illustration was published in the North American Native Plant Society’s member journal, The Blazing Star.

This drawing was one that turned out well without a lot of agonizing over it in the field. But, as you can see, the top of the plant and the rock is cut off because I didn’t start far enough down the page.

When I wrote the article for The Blazing Star, almost two years after the original drawing, I redrew it and added the top half of the plant. I just went by what was already there and imagined how the top should look. It turned out well.

Lobelia inflata Revisited
Lobelia inflata Revisited

So, even though the in situ drawing wasn’t perfect, it was enough to go on to later make a finished drawing. In some of my drawings I use a lot more color. For this one, I kept the color sparse and retained the original pencil sketch look.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

 

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 5: Nature Journal Series

Little Orange Mushroom

Day---005-Little Orange Mushroom

 

About this journal entry

It’s amazing how quickly an hour flies by when you are trying unsuccessfully to figure out how to do something.

On another note, I’m finding that it is getting harder to focus on the experience rather than the quality of my drawing. This mushroom didn’t meet my expectations because I didn’t know how to make it look the way it looked in real life.

I remind myself each time I prepare to go out and sit in nature that the journaling isn’t about how well I draw the pictures or write the passage. It’s about recording a moment in my day with nature.

So much easier said than done, but so much more rewarding when followed.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

 

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 4: Nature Journal Series

Ground Cherry

Ground cherry drawing from my nature journal.

About this Entry

The inklings of trouble is starting to reveal itself already.

“This one will be much easier,” I thought as I settled on a subject for today’s entry. It is all mostly green, with hardly any other colors to try and incorporate. Right.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

 

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 3: Nature Journal Series

Sycamore Leaf

Day 3, Sycamore Leaf

 

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

I’m slowly scanning my nature journal entries and adding them to this blog.

Some of you may have already seen these, because I started this a few years ago and then let it get lost among the other things I am trying to do. Now I’m reviving the effort. Most of these are compiled in a picture ebook for Kindle.

Now I’m reorganizing and gearing up to get back into the habit of daily journaling. Once I make new drawings enough to fill another ebook, I’ll publish the second volume.

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 2: Nature Journal Series

Asters Hanging Down

Day 2, Asters Hanging Down

 

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

I’m slowly scanning my nature journal entries and adding them to this blog.

Some of you may have already seen these, because I started this a few years ago and then let it get lost among the other things I am trying to do. Now I’m reviving the effort. Most of these are compiled in a picture ebook for Kindle.

Now I’m reorganizing and gearing up to get back into the habit of daily journaling. Once I make new drawings enough to fill another ebook, I’ll publish the second volume.

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 1: Leaf and Rock, Nature Journal Series

Day 1: Leaf and Rock

Day 1: Rock and Sycamore Leaf on Picnic Table
Day 1: Leaf and Rock

 

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

I’m slowly scanning my nature journal entries and adding them to this blog.

Some of you may have already seen these, because I started this a few years ago and then let it get lost among the other things I am trying to do. Now I’m reviving the effort. Most of these are compiled in a picture ebook for Kindle.

Now I’m reorganizing and gearing up to get back into the habit of daily journaling. Once I make new drawings enough to fill another ebook, I’ll publish the second volume.

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

How Does Ginseng Look in Fall? Here’s how it looks in the Ozarks in October

I get questions from readers often, mostly about how to find ginseng or to ask for help in identifying whether what they’ve found is ginseng or not. Right now, though, people are asking “How does ginseng look in fall?”

Many are surprised to learn that it changes colors with the season. Here in the Ozarks, our ginseng can start turning yellow in late September. This year, colors seem to be running a bit later and it’s only just now beginning to turn. Today is Oct. 5.

All photos are available as signed/numbered prints up to 8″ x 10″ for $30. Click on “Contact” in the menu to inquire.

How Does Ginseng Look in Fall

How does ginseng look in fall? It sometimes turns bright greenish-yellow, making it easier to spot in the woods.
Ginseng turns greenish-yellow in fall, sometimes making it easier to spot.

Most of the time by October the berries have long since fallen. I found one plant today with a berry still clinging.

This is how ginseng looks in fall: A bug-eaten and yellowing 3-prong with one berry still clinging.
A bug-eaten and yellowing 3-prong with one berry still clinging.

If the plants aren’t yellow yet, they’re very often bug-eaten and pretty ratty looking.

I find American ginseng to be a beautiful plant all year, but sometimes near the end of her growth cycle she takes on a certain glow. It looks as if this mature 4-prong is basking in her golden year-end, even if she does look a bit worse for the wear:

American ginseng in October. This is a wild-simulated plant growing wild in the forest at Wild Ozark. There is no difference between wild and "wild-simulated" except that the seed was placed in that spot by me, rather than falling from a mother plant or carried by a bird.
American ginseng in October. This is a wild-simulated plant growing wild in the forest at Wild Ozark.

Ginseng in October by Madison Woods. Prints available.
My drawing of Ginseng in October. Prints available in our online shop.

 

Defining “Wild-Simulated”

When native berries are planted, or at least seeds purchased from a grower of a similar ginseng, there is no visual difference between the roots of our wild and “wild-simulated” except that the seed was placed in that spot by a human, rather than falling from a mother plant or carried by a bird.

There are some visual differences in different varieties of ginseng, although most of the people I know with knowledge of ginseng claim there is only one variety of ginseng and that it has no other iterations. From what I’ve seen, though, ginseng that grows in some parts of the country have longer flower stems and the berry clusters are held high above the plant.

Our native ginseng berry clusters are usually closer to the leaves. I would notice an unusual-looking plant in our habitats. I would know it wasn’t wild if I had used seeds from those with the taller flower stems. Unless you can see that the plant isn’t a local variety, without genetic testing it would be impossible to know what is true wild and what is wild-simulated.

Wild-simulated is planted in a way to mimic nature, in groupings or small colonies in habitats that would ordinarily support wild ginseng.

This is not the same as “woods grown”. Woods grown is grown in the woods in places wild or wild-simulated would also grow, but usually in rows or beds or swaths to make harvesting easier. Woods grown is also sometimes planted in tilled beds or treated with fertilizers or herbicides and pesticides.

 

Here’s the same plant later in October of the same year:

ginseng in october
Click the photo to enlarge.

The Companions Change in Appearance, Too

Blue cohosh can’t even be found by this time of year. It’s already died back and withered into the leaf cover.

Doll’s Eyes (White Baneberry), or Actaea pachypoda, has ripe fruits still waiting to drop onto the ground. You can see how the common name was derived, though a doll with those eyes would be pretty freaky looking.

Doll's Eyes (Actaea pachypoda) with ripe berries in October.

Bloodroot is getting harder to find because many of them have also returned to ground, but here and there a tattered leaf remains to mark the spot:

Bloodroot in early October at Wild Ozark.



Here’s goldenseal on the 18th of October:

Goldenseal on October 18, 2016.
Goldenseal on October 18, 2016.

Rattlesnake fern questions what all the fuss is about. This one is putting on seeds (spores) as if nothing unusual is happening. These and grape ferns never die back, but sometimes a frost will give a bronze cast to the ground-hugging fronds.

Rattlesnake fern, sometimes called a "pointer fern" because it grows with ginseng.
Rattlesnake fern, sometimes called a “pointer fern” because it grows with ginseng.

Even the Look-Alikes Change Colors

The Virginia creeper mimics ginseng all year long, even in early fall. But in late fall it comes time to show true colors. It turns red sometimes later on, which ginseng never does.

Virginia creeper is a ginseng look-alike.

This Ohio Buckeye leaf is stunning in red:

ohio-buckeye-in-october

Thanks for stopping by!

I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour through the ginseng woods with me today. This little hike actually took place yesterday but I’m just now getting around to making the post. This morning it’s raining.

Ozark Backroad Photo Journey – Come Along for the Ride

Whenever I go away from the house alone, I take my camera. A simple run to the post office or to town becomes an Ozark Backroad Photo Journey. I generally try not to do this when I have passengers or am myself a passenger. It seems that stopping as often as I do when I’m alone is torture to others. And if I’m a passenger, the drivers tend to get irritable after the second or third shout to stop, ha.

The “Ozark Backroad” Begins on our Driveway

The first thing that caught my eye on this trip was a hawk in the tree at the second creek crossing on our driveway.

First sight on the Ozark Backroad Photographic Journey was a broadwing hawk.
Broadwing Hawk

 

Well, I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save draft”, so this post is going out prematurely. I’ll add the rest of the photos as I get them resized for the web!

I’m learning how to use Photoshop, so it might take longer to get the photos ready. This looks like a really versatile program, but so complicated! I want to add my signature to photos with my own handwriting, not the copyright stamp like you see in the hawk picture above. It’s turned into a major challenge to learn how to do what I thought would be one simple thing.

Update: Now that I’ve figured out how to add the signature, I think I want to change it to Wild Ozark instead of Madison Woods. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort “branding” Wild Ozark so I might as well continue along that path.

Back to the Post

So now we can get on down the road. As I mentioned earlier, the Ozark backroad begins on our own driveway. It actually begins the moment we walk out of the back door.

When I got out of the car to see if I could get a better picture of the hawk, it flew away. I looked down and spotted a little frog hiding out under the leaves at my feet. I really love the colors in this photo.

Frog Hiding on an Ozark Backroad
(click to enlarge)

The driveway is long and bumpy, so I go really slow anyway, but going slow gives me the chance to see things. There was a virgin bower blooming that I wanted a picture of, so I got out to take that. While getting ready to take the bower photo, I saw a good-sized preying mantis (or is it praying?) in the greenery.

It was on the prowl for a snack, so I will stick with the “preying” spelling for now.

praying mantis on the Ozark backroad trip
(click to enlarge)

Not even a tenth of a mile farther down the road yet, I spied a nice old fence post with a hole in it and some rocks and other things stacked on top. It gave the post the look of an odd person with a hat. And I just like old fence posts and barbed wire. So this photo had to be taken, as well.

Old Fence Post

 

Our neighbor has some old buckets hanging on the porch of an old shed. I am always trying to get a good photo of these buckets, but I can never capture them in a photo the way they look to me in real life. I just love old buckets.

Old Buckets
(click to enlarge)

Surprises

You never know what you’ll see when you’re driving down an Ozark backroad. Most often it’s plants and landscape that prompt me to pull out the camera. For this photo, though, it was a flock of wild turkeys. I only managed to capture one of them, and just barely.

Flying Turkey on the Ozark Backroad
Poor photo, but the best I could do on short notice and from inside the car.

The only wildlife I ordinarily get photos of are the slow ones. Things that don’t fly, run, or crawl away too quickly, ha. Here’s a box turtle (tortoise) snuggled into a dirt berm under the leaves.

Box Turtle (tortoise)

Most often it’s the Plants

Unless the wind is blowing, the plants don’t stand much of a chance. I take a lot of photos of plants. Even the ones no one seems to like, such as the poison ivy and teasel.

Poison ivy is very pretty in early fall and is often one of the first to begin the color change.

Red poison ivy

One of my fav photos from the day of slowly wandering down this Ozark backroad. These are teasel seed heads. Teasel is considered to be an invasive weed by many. I think it’s a great photo subject, and an unusual and useful plant, though I wouldn’t want it taking over and choking out native habitats.

Teasel is one of the plants on the Ozark backroad that I like to photograph.

 

King’s River

We’re not far from the headwaters of King’s River here. This is always a favorite place to stop and look for beavers, eagles, and other wildlife. Once my husband spotted a large cottonmouth floating lazily on the surface as it drifted downstream.

King's River is a beautiful sight along my favorite Ozark backroad.

If you are in the area and like to hike, there’s a nice trail that leads to the headwaters and the King’s River Falls.

Until Next Time

That’s all of the photos from this excursion. I’m sure I’ll do it again sometime soon!

Mailbox and Back in Under an Hour

Yesterday I brought my camera with me when I went to the mailbox. If I had walked, I know it would have taken more than an hour because I would have seen so many more opportunities to stop and take a picture.

There’s Never a “Quick Trip” Anywhere Out Here

My intention was to make  *quick* trip to check the mail because I was waiting on a delivery of something in particular. But before I started the mailbox run, there was a mushroom that Rob had spotted near where he parks the tractor.

He’d told me about it the day before so I needed to get pictures of it first thing.

A bolete of some sort. This mushroom looks like a pancake when you're looking down from above, though.

Just as I took its picture, I saw there were more of them, just a little up the hill.

Another of the mushrooms that look like pancakes.
Saw this one just a little farther up the hill.

And there was this one peeping out from behind the leaves. Same type of shroom but the shape is a bit irregular.
And there was this one peeping out from behind the leaves. Same type of shroom but the shape is a bit irregular.

Don't they look just like pancakes?
Don’t they look just like pancakes?

But from this angle you can see they do have stems.
But from this angle you can see they do have stems.

The day before that he’d seen a different one, so of course I got some pictures of it, too:

mushroom from above
A humongous mushroom growing at the base of Gloria, the old white oak tree out front.

This perfect mushroom looked like it should have had a fairy sitting on the edge, with her legs dangling from it.
This perfect mushroom looked like it should have had a fairy sitting on the edge, with her legs dangling from it.

But I digress. After I finished taking the pictures of the pancake mushrooms I took the 4-wheeler to get on with the mail-checking task.

But the 4-wheeler was having issues and died on me a few times. This, of course, is where having the camera on hand came in handy indeed. I had ample time to walk around a bit and take some pictures while I waited for it to start again.

Dinner Leavings along the Mailbox Route

I know it was a squirrel who left this mess on the flat rock by the first creek crossing. The day before we’d seen a squirrel running across the driveway with a mouth full of mushroom.

Leftovers from a squirrel. Mushroom stem and nut shells.
Leftovers from a squirrel. Mushroom stem and nut shells.

Mushroom stem leftover from a squirrel.
Mushroom stem leftover from a squirrel.

Good thing I wasn’t watching which mushrooms the squirrels were eating so we could try them too! Squirrels have some interesting digestive abilities. They can even eat the deadly mushrooms without it hurting them. There’s more information about that here: http://www.mushroomthejournal.com/greatlakesdata/Terms/squir27.html#Squirrelsa

Leaves to Notice

It’s only July but already the leaves of the sourwood are beginning to color and drop. They always do this a little in late summer. And I always notice them. I love the leaves of autumn and the teasers of late summer.

Black gum leaf on a rock.
Black gum leaf on a rock.

My favorite leaf picture from yesterday is a rock and leaf composition with understated colors. I love the paleness of the rock and the light colored leaf:

Yellow leaf on pale rock in July 2016.

Herbs to Notice

I’ve been watching for a particular herb favorite of mine. It’s about the time for Lobelia inflata to bloom. I use the seeds of this plant to make a tremendously appreciated anti-spasm formula.

A mature Lobelia inflata plant with blooms and swollen pods.
A mature Lobelia inflata plant with blooms and swollen pods.

Swollen seed pods of Lobelia inflata.
Swollen seed pods of Lobelia inflata.

When the seed pods are brown and dry I’ll snip the stem and put the whole thing in a paper bag. Then I can smash the bag a bit and the pods will burst, releasing all the seeds inside the bag. After that, I’ll use a portion of them for my herbals and spread a portion of them outside so I’ll have more to gather next summer.

Frogs and Feathers

I love finding wild bird feathers. It seems that I encounter a lot of crow feathers during my walkabouts. Yesterday morning was no exception. We have free-range chickens, so chicken feathers are easy to find. And I’m always finding feathers as evidence the cats have killed a bird, too. But those feathers don’t catch my attention the way randomly placed ones on rocks in creeks do.

A small crow feather I spotted on the way to the mailbox yesterday on a rock in the creek.

Just as I was getting ready to try the 4-wheeler again I saw this small frog in the creek.

A little frog after he thought he'd jumped away and hidden from me again.

A little frog that was in the creek on the way to the mailbox.

He’s only about an inch or two long and thought he was well-hidden, which he was. But not so well-hidden that he could escape my notice, ha.

Other Posts Like This One

If you enjoyed this, this post reminds me of Why it Takes Me an Hour to Go to the Post Office and Back  so you might like it too. Both demonstrate how I shouldn’t leave home with the camera or a notebook or a sketchpad if the trip is intended to be a quick one.

 

The First Flowers of Spring at Wild Ozark

Nature lovers began the frenzy of watching for the first flowers of spring a few weeks ago. Here at Wild Ozark, we’re in a little eco-microcosm that is often more than a week behind surrounding areas in spring. Our temperatures stay cooler more often and our snow is often deeper. I watched with no small amount of envy as one after another of my peers posted victory photos to the various online medias, mainly to the Arkansas Native Plant group on Facebook.

Usually, Harbinger of Spring or Dutchmen’s Breeches are the first flowers I notice out here. This year they have not bloomed yet, or else I missed them if they did. I went out looking for Harbingers a couple of weeks ago and came back with only dried relics from last year.

Spring peepers have been regaling the nights and days with songs of merriment and woo. It was so loud last night I could hear them over the sound of rushing water, runoff from the day’s rains.

For all intents and purposes, it does seem that spring is here.

First Flowers

The very first flowers I saw bloom here at Wild Ozark was cress, on the last day of February. I think it is hairy cress, sometimes also called winter cress or chicken cress. It’s a delicious edible during early spring, but it’s a small plant and so gathering is a little tedious.

Cress, one of the first flowers of spring at Wild Ozark.
One of the edible cresses that grow at Wild Ozark.

The next flower to appear was spring beauty, Claytonia virginica. This is always one of the first flowers.

Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica. Claytonia virginica, spring beauty

And that’s about it so far right here at Wild Ozark. I think I saw a violet blooming but I didn’t stop right away and couldn’t find it when I went back down the driveway later.

When Does Ginseng Come Up?

A few more folks are beginning to search for when ginseng comes up in spring, but it’s still a bit early for them here. Usually that happens at the end of April. With spring being early, though, I might start looking for them in a few weeks. Actually, I look for them now, but don’t expect to see them until at least mid-March and likely not until April.

Nature Journal Ebook from Wild Ozark

Valentine's Day Gift: The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20Art is how I express my relationship with nature, whether it’s sketching, writing, or photography.

As a special Valentine’s Day gift to you, my collection of journal entries with nature sketches from Autumn 2015 is FREE at Amazon today through the 16th.

If you have a color e-reader or the Kindle for PC app on your computer or iPad/Galaxy pad, it will display beautifully. It works on smart phones, but the text is too small to read without magnifying it.

You can pick it up here: Nature Journal at Amazon

 

Delve Deeper to Observe Nature

Take a moment from your day and delve deeper to observe nature. You’ll gain a sense of awe and wonder.

Delve deeper

Truly experience that moment. If it’s a plant you’re observing, reach out and touch it (be reasonable – don’t touch poison ivy). Notice the texture of the leaf. Is it smooth or rough? Are there hairs on it making it soft or bristly? Look at the veins in that leaf. Do they run parallel down the whole leaf or do they branch and fork?

lobelia nature sketch

I would never have noticed the hairs on the stem of this lobelia had I not taken the time to observe every part of it.

Listen to it. Yes, there are sounds associated with plants. I recorded the wind through these acacia trees when I visited Abu Dhabi recently. It’s a sound I’ll never forget and could have easily been overlooked. Aside from the sound of the seed pods rattling, you’ll hear the wind and doves too.

In nature, everything is multi-layered.

What about the colors and smells. Some things seem fairly uniform in color. Then as I’m preparing to capture it in a sketch, I notice how many different shades of green are on one leaf that at first looked like a simple solid color.

Observe nature and notice the many colors in something that seems one color at first, like the leaves of this ground cherry plant in flower and fruit

On the day I made that sketch, I was in a bit of a rush. I didn’t want to attempt something that would take more than a few minutes. So I saw that plant and thought it looked easy enough, all a fairly uniform shade of green. And then I began the sketch and the game changed. I began to see the details that at first went unnoticed.

Same thing happened with this sycamore leaf. One leaf. A simple subject.

colored pencil sketch of a sycamore leaf in fall

Wasn’t so simple after all once I noticed the many little veins and the multitude of colors.

I pay closer attention to all things when I observe nature, not just plants. Similar details abound in every aspect involving every element of nature. This sort of mindfulness offers great opportunity to celebrate and appreciate variety in all of life.

 

Nature Journal ebook

These drawings are from my Autumn 2015 Wild Ozark Nature Journal. It’s for Kindle or other tablet sized ereaders. These colorful journal entries are gorgeous when viewed on color e-readers but the text is going to disappoint on phones because the screen is too small. Here’s the link where you can get it. Please leave a review and tell me what you thought of it.

Nature Writing at Hobbs State Park

join us for a nature writing workshop at Hobbs State Park with Madison Woods
.

This is a past event. If you’d like to book a workshop like this one, email [email protected]

Nature is a treat for the senses but sometimes it takes effort to get past the immediate sensory input and experience a deeper relationship. Madison Woods will lead the class on a voyage of listening, looking, and feeling for connections that transport. The class will include an optional easy nature walk, a communing exercise, a discussion and practice of nature translation through words, art, and photography.

Join us at the Hobbs State Park for a Nature Journal Writing Workshop!

Date: Nov 22

Time: 1 pm to 4 pm

Where: Hobbs State Park, 20201 East Hwy. 12 , Rogers, AR 72756

Cost: $15

Bring pencils, camera, notebook if you can or want to do some hands-on writing, drawing and photography. I’ll have a few copies of the nature journals I’ve designed on hand for $10 ea, if anyone wants to buy one of those.

Click here to register.

Sponsored by :

Village Writing School
Eureka Springs School of Literary Arts
479-292-3665
177 Huntsville Road
Eureka Springs, AR 72632

Autumn sunrise shining through Gloria's leaves.

Symbols of Warmth and Sustenance

I brought the camera with me this foggy morning to capture some of the beauty that surrounded me in the hushed quiet of our little Wild Ozark valley.

When I came back in I sat on the porch and listened to the sapsuckers discussing the next leg on their journey. Mist muffled crows cawed and I plucked hitch-hikers from my pants legs and thought of titles for these photos.

My favorite is the last image of Warmth and Sustenance. Leave me a comment if you see the symbols for the warmth and sustenance. The one for warmth is easy. Maybe not so much for the sustenance.

I hope you find the photos as interesting, awe-inspiring and thought-provoking as I did.

Foggy Morning Perspectives - Dew gathers on the webs, highlighting just how many artistic spiders live in our world.
Foggy Morning Perspectives
Dew gathers on the webs, highlighting just how many artistic spiders live in our world.

 

Web of Intricacies
Web of Intricacies

 

Double-Layered Intricacy
Double-Layered Intricacy

 

Gloria, the Old Oak Tree
Gloria, the Old Oak Tree
She barely fits inside the frame.

 

Symbols of Warmth and Sustenance
Symbols of Warmth and Sustenance