Post header for Winter Solstice 2018

Winter Solstice 2018, New Year, and the Color Black

Full Moon and Meteor Shower at Winter Solstice 2018

Winter solstice 2018 in Northern Hemisphere will be at 4:23 PM on Friday, December 21. This is the longest night of the year, and although I typically think of it as a dark night, it won’t be this year.

With a full moon and meteor shower going on, it’s likely to be quite bright outside after the sun goes down.

Solstice Seems to be a better “New Year” Marker

I’ve always wondered why the winter solstice isn’t the marker for a new year. So before starting this blog post, I looked it up. And now that I know, I’m surprised that New Year’s eve is such an accepted celebration in today’s political and religious climate. The reasons for the date makes a lot more sense to me now. You can read more about it at EarthSky.org if you like.

I still like the winter solstice better, though, lol.

And it seems a fitting time of year to stock up on one of my favorite handmade watercolor paint colors: Black. I make the black from wood char, and this year I’m going to make a special batch of black paint from the wood that I burn on Mid-winter’s Day. I’ll call it Winter Solstice 2018.

For Winter Solstice 2018 my musings are about the symbolism of black and the making of a special batch of handmade watercolors.

It’ll look just like the other blacks that I make, though, so the only difference will be the metaphysical.

If you want to read more about how I make the paint, visit my Paleo Paints website.

 

The Color Black from a Physical and Metaphysical Standpoint

Technically, each color is represented by specific wavelengths on a spectrum that ranges from red to violet. Basically, the same colors you see in a rainbow. Black isn’t a ‘color’ because it has no specific wavelength. And neither is white, because it contains all of the visible wavelengths and has no wavelength of its own. (https://education.seattlepi.com/not-list-black-white-colors-physics-3426.html)

White is all of the colors in the visible light wavelengths, and black is the absence of all colors in the visible wavelengths. White contains all colors and black absorbs all colors. It is the metaphysical struggle between these two that give all of life purpose and meaning.

Just as a blank white page contains all the possibilities of what can be, the inky black screen of the resting mind is there to fill that page.

In nature, all living things are in a state of decay. All systems are in a state of decay. And all living things are also in a state of change.

The word ‘decay’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘rotting’, although that is one meaning of it. As I am using it, and even in the unpleasant image of rotting, to decay means to break down to basic components.

Balance and Stasis

Balance is by nature a state of expended energy. When something is in balance, it is being pulled in opposite directions and compensation must be made to stay in balance. One little change can upset the balance if the thing in balance isn’t able to compensate for that change.

White is the complete and total opposite of black, and it represents the active state. All the other colors in between represent the struggle and chaos as the two opposites strive to gain an edge.

All things strive to move toward a state of chaos or randomness (https://www.physlink.com/education/askexperts/ae261.cfm). Without balance, there is chaos. So from a color standpoint, black represents the the resting state. It also represents chaos.

In nature, temperatures ‘want’ to return to extremely cold. Bodies want to be at rest. Light wants to return to darkness. Colors want to meld to black.

Black and White depend upon and feed each other.

It is the Balance of Life that holds it all in play. Once the game is over, it fades to black.

Black represents the beginning, and the end. The alpha and the omega. It is the natural state of existence. Only life pulls out color, warmth, and motion. This is why I say the Universe is a living organism. Once it dies, it all returns to cold, dark, black.

And yet black holds the potential of all possibilities of warmth, light, and colors. Of life. This is because it takes a ‘black body’ to heat up and emit the white light. Again, the two polar opposites cannot exist without each other.

Almost all of the concepts of religion are about the struggle between good and evil, or the balance between light and dark. In psychology there is the struggle between our nature’s ‘good side’ and ‘bad side’, with the supposedly ‘bad’ side being called the ‘shadow’ side, which makes me think of darkness and black, or evil and wrong.

In my worldview, it is not so much right or wrong, good or bad, but the struggle to maintain the balance between opposite pulls. This struggle is evident almost everywhere you look once you start to pay attention to the symbolism.

What I’ll be Doing to Celebrate a Return of the Light

So Winter Solstice 2018 is going to be a time of dabbling in the dark and welcoming in the light as I make black paint pigments and look forward to new colors going down on my blank white canvases in 2019.

To read about the making and use of my black handmade watercolor paint, read my post over at the Paleo Paints website. You can read my previous Winter Solstice posts too:

Winter Solstice 2015

Winter Solstice 2014

An End of Year Post: Things going on at Wild Ozark

It’s been a busy past few months at Wild Ozark. I haven’t posted as often as I normally do, and when the blog goes silent, it’s usually because there’s just too many other things on my plate. Just in case I don’t get a chance to make another post to commemorate the end of the year, I figured I’d better get one in today while I have a little time.

For the months of October and most of November I wore the Burnt Kettle hat. Rob’s sister Valerie came up to give me hand at the War Eagle fair in mid-October. Thank goodness she was here, because that was the first large event I’ve ever done and it was hard! There’s no way I could have done it on my own. And then Rob came home for a break from the desert, but half of that was spent also spent selling more syrup at a different festival in Texas.

New (to us) Truck

The first few days he was home we did a lot of driving around looking for the best deal on a new (used) truck. We ended up buying one in Oklahoma City. As it turned out, the first truck we looked at was the one we ended up getting.

Our end of year gift to ourselves. Very comfy and lots of room inside! 2016 Ford F150.
Very comfy and lots of room inside!

Paleo Paints

Since mid-November I’ve been busy busy working on wearing the artist’s hat. I’ve made a few new collections of Paleo Paints. You can read more about the latest collection at the art website (PaleoPaints.com) but here’s the cover images for all three so you can get an idea of the colors in each. No. 3 is at the Walton Arts Center’s little Holiday Market shop until Dec. 16. No. 4 still has one color not yet dry enough to ship so I bring it with me to sell in person but it should soon be ready to go up on Etsy, too. Collection No. 5 is listed at Etsy now, but there’s only two of those sets left.

All of them have similar shades, but there’s some differences in tone. I used purple sandstone in the last two and in the third collection several of the shades are from pink sandstone. I hope to have some more collections finished before end of year.

Right now I’m working on a Twisted Tree painting and I’m using mostly colors from Collection No. 5, but resorted to a wee bit of wood char that hasn’t made it into a collection since the Collection No. 1. I’ll need to make more of that one and include it in the next set. Here’s Twisted Tree No. 1, still in progress.

Twisted Tree No. 1. Still working on roots. Will move up to the limbs next.
Still working on roots. Will move up to the limbs next. Follow me on Instagram if you like to see the things I’m working on in real time.

These Twisted Trees are obviously fantasy trees. I have no photo to go on, and when I first start a new painting of this sort I have no idea what will emerge. The farther along I get with it, though, the clearer the image becomes in my mind and the better I know how to go forward. This one is a very masculine looking tree to me, wouldn’t you say?

Paleo Paint Plans

Soon I want to try making a set of oil colors. There’s a goshawk painting I want to do using them. It’ll be the first time working with oils, so I’m curious how that will turn out.

End of Year Celebrations

I hope you’re all having a good Christmas season. The entire holiday season always feels too rushed to me and I find by now I’m really looking forward to the start of the new year. Solstice is the date it seems like the new year should begin, though, so that’s the day I privately celebrate the end of year here at Wild Ozark. I look forward to the nights becoming shorter and the daylight lingering a little longer each day as the seasons build toward mid-summer.

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.

Frozen fog (hoar frost) on the distant mountaintop.

Frozen Fog in the Distance

We’re not getting snow this winter, but we’ve gotten a few glimpses of frozen fog, or hoar frost, at least.

Frozen fog (hoar frost) on the distant mountaintop.
Frozen fog (hoar frost) on the distant mountaintop. This was early morning, just before the sun made it over the top of the mountain covered with the frozen fog. The sky was edited to show you the fog, which I could see very well with my eyes but didn’t show up on the camera.
This photo was taken a few minutes later, after the sun had risen over the top. It's hard to see it in the photo, but the hoar frost is vaporizing and lifting off the mountaintop as steam.
This photo was taken a few minutes later, after the sun had risen over the top. It’s hard to see it in the photo, but the hoar frost is vaporizing and lifting off the mountaintop as steam.
Things I've learned since moving to the country.

Things I’ve Learned (Since Moving to the Country)

These are the things I’ve learned since moving out here to Wild Ozark.

I used to think I lived in “the country”, before we moved out here. That was thirteen years ago and I quickly realized once we burnt the bridges and sold our house, that we had no clue what it meant to live in a rural place.

So here it goes. Here’s my start to the list. Remember to check back later to see if I’ve added more. Maybe leave a comment to prompt me to do it, if it’s been a while and still nothing else is here.

Moving Even Small Rocks in Winter

I made a little video the other day, just to illustrate this one. It’s terribly funny the first time it happens to you. And it’s funny when you forget and it happens again. For those of you who live where ice and snow have been normal all your lives, just ignore me here. But this is the sort of things that astounds people who move from warmer climates to one with real winters.

I learned this the first winter here, but refreshed my memory the other day. I’m out of breath in the video, but not from trying to move the rock, ha. I’d just finished rolling some logs in place so Rob could come pick them up with the tractor. We’d been cutting a dead tree away from the driveway.

Black and White Cloudscape #nowordsneeded

Cloudscape in black & white.
Cloudscape in Black and White

 


#nowordsneeded and the title of the photo are all I put on these posts. If you’d like to participate in this Twitter and Blogging meme, use the hashtag in your title and leave a comment with a link to your post. It’s open any day of the week. I post them randomly, so no schedule, either, lol. Tag @wildozark on Twitter if you want me to see it sooner rather than whenever I browse the hashtags.

The Last Snow of 2017

This morning I woke to the sparkly glitz of snow flurries. We’ve hardly had any snow at all this winter so far. Just a bare dusting a week or two ago, and that’s it.

When the sun came out, the flying snow shone like diamonds in the sky. Couldn’t capture it the way it looked, but it was beautiful. Looks like that’s all we’ll get. Sunny skies here now.

Last snow of 2017.
Last snow of 2017. Click to enlarge.

 

Using a Spring for Water – Winter Issues

When you rely on a spring for water, you need a tank. This is our 1500 gallon water collection tank.
When you rely on a spring for water, you need a tank. This is our 1500 gallon water collection tank.

Using a spring for water requires more effort than relying on tap water. Sometimes, just because you turn on the faucet, that doesn’t mean the water will come out like it’s supposed to.

Yesterday, while Rob worked on changing the O2 sensors on his truck, I burned some calories. It was only twenty degree as I hiked up the mountain behind our house to check on our water tank.

Having a spring for water is nice, but it works best when that spring is a good distance higher in elevation than the house.

The Problem

We’ve had some well-below freezing days and have been keeping the water running pretty much around the clock. The flow became low in a couple of faucets in the house.

When using a spring for water, ideally the plumbing *should* all work the same as it does in a city. It’s just the maintenance of the system that is different.

At first I thought perhaps the tank was getting low on water. But that didn’t explain why some faucets had good pressure and flow and some didn’t.

Then I thought maybe the lines under the house were beginning to freeze in those faucets that were off.

Puzzles

But that didn’t explain why, after running hot water through them, it didn’t help. Or why the sprayer at the kitchen sink worked fine but the faucet didn’t.

Just in case the water was low, I hiked up the mountain. I’m not sure, but I think the spring is a good three hundred feet in elevation above the house. I don’t know how many walking feet it is, because the angle to get there obviously isn’t straight up. But it’s not gentle.

I wish I would hike up there every day, but it seems I’m only motivated when the likelihood of running out of water prompts me to start climbing.

Great Exercise

It’s exceptionally good exercise for my knee – if I don’t misstep. Since tearing the ACL and meniscus a year and a half ago, I’ve been using my natural terrain to help rehab and that has worked great. No surgery.

There’s an old logging road that runs up there, but flooding over the years have washed it out and made hip-deep trenches in some places, and narrow footpath trails alongside those trenches are all that’s left.

Oh, and loose rocks and shale clay, and acorns galore. It all makes for an adventurous hike.

This time, the tom cat came with me. I didn’t get a picture of him because I didn’t bring my camera. I knew I’d have enough to do with just breathing and staying on my feet. Mr. Kitty thinks it’s cool to stop right in front of me while I’m walking, and he did this on the way up there, too.

Motivating the Cat

I stepped on him a couple of times and booted him to get moving and he started behaving better after that. He made the entire trip up there and back down again. I think this cat thinks he’s a dog because he sure acts like one sometimes.

It didn’t take as long as I thought it would to get up there, and I wasn’t as winded as I thought I’d be, either. Must be that ginseng jelly I’ve been eating every morning on my toast!

The view from above the house on the bench where the spring tank sits.
The view from above the house on the bench where the spring tank sits.

The tank was full to overflowing, so the level of water definitely wasn’t the source of our problem. Having a spring for water offers multiple opportunities for figuring out the sources of problems, ha.

So I looked a little harder. The overflow line was plugged. I could tell that because some critter had made holes in it and the water was spraying from the holes but not making it to the other end where it should exit.

Stuck Lid

So I decided to take off the cap and have a look. Well, the cap was stuck. It felt frozen stuck. It’s over my head to reach up and turn the thing, and I couldn’t get good leverage to make it move.

Rocks are particularly handy and I’m glad we live somewhere there are lots of them lying around. I tried the rock. It didn’t work. Then I noticed a shovel leaning against the other side of the tank. That worked after a few times hitting the cap ridge in the direction I wanted it to turn.

What’s Inside the Tank?

From tiptoes I could look inside. There was a layer about an inch thick of ice on the top of the water. If you look at the photo at the top, you’ll see the little “neck” to the tank. The water was only about an inch below the lid. The overflow line is the one at the top leading out.

So I thought maybe a sort of vacuum had formed, causing the pressure to be lower at the house than normal. But again, that didn’t explain why some faucets worked right and some didn’t.

Anyway, I broke up the ice and tried to open up the overflow but couldn’t get that to work. It just kept clogging back up with ice. At least I knew without a doubt that we had plenty enough water to continue running the water as the temperatures drop to near zero in the next few days.

The Solution

Once back at the house it occurred to me that only two faucets had issues. The others all seemed fine. Then I thought about taking the aerator screen off of the kitchen sink faucet to check that.

Sure enough, the problem the whole time was right there at the end of the faucet and not anywhere else along the lines.

Algae is always present in the water and it usually doesn’t cause any problems. I think the green algae actually helps to keep the water cleaner than without, but I haven’t found any evidence to support this thought. I know the red/brown and some blue-green algaes do indicate poor water quality, though. At least two varieties of blue-green algae is edible and nutritious.

However, Rob likes to keep the water algae free as possible, so he shocked the tank last week. Algae had clogged the aerator screens on those two faucets. We’ll have to take them off of the faucets the next time we’re flushing the lines after shocking. Or better yet, just get rid of the fine screen in the aerator altogether.

Using a Spring for Water

So that’s the saga of what it’s like living on a spring for water so far this winter. Ordinarily there are far more incidents to write about but I’m thankful it took this long to encounter one and hopeful there won’t be another!

sun sparkles on water

Sun Sparkles

On this day in 2015, we had snow and sun sparkles. So far this year it’s been unseasonably warm and no snow so far. That could change this weekend, though – snow is in the forecast!

Since we haven’t had any this year yet, I’m rerunning the photos from a couple of years ago.

Sun Sparkles in Winter

Sun sparkles in winter enchant me like sirens calling sailors to the rocks. The moments when these occur are the result of perfect synchronization, the synergism of all five elements: wind, fire, earth, water and spirit. They do not come when summoned, appearing only when conditions are right and only appreciated by those who heed the call to notice.

A Collection of My Favorite Photos

You can find twenty of my enchanting Ozark photos all in one place by purchasing my new ebook at Amazon and other retailers for only $1.99.

Most of the photos I shoot, or at least the ones I really like, are also scattered throughout this website and they’re completely free if you want to browse around to find them.

The ebook just rounds up some of my favorites and puts them in a format pleasing to view on tablets and other e-readers. I haven’t tried it on a phone yet, but if you do, let me know how it looks.

 

sun sparkles and snow in creek

sun sparkles on water

more sun sparkles

Through Ice and Mud We Go – Bringing Hay to Horses

Through Ice and Mud. Ice in the spring puddles on the way to the top gate in the horse's field.
Ice in the spring puddles on the way to the top gate in the horse’s field.

Through Ice and Mud

Whether through ice and mud, or snow, or rain or wind, kind of like the postman’s creed to deliver mail, we must deliver hay to the horses.

It’s easy to stay in touch with the wheel of time when you repeat a certain activity outdoors throughout the year. I like this facet of living out here.

I’m sure everyone everywhere has a similar regular activity that would allow them to notice the passage of time and seasons, but how many take note?

Why does it matter?

It’s so easy to get caught up in a frenetic life these days. As for myself, I’m get overwhelmed with too many irons in the fire. I have a tendency to be a workaholic. Even though what I do for a living is creative and I enjoy it, I still manage to get disconnected from the baseline that’s important to me.

When the list of things to do gets so long there’s no end in sight, a simple reconnection to nature helps me to feel more centered and grounded.

Noticing

Taking note of the changing seasons is one way I get reconnected on a regular basis. No matter whether the weather is typical or atypical, being outside brings me into close contact with the passage of time throughout a year.

Our winter this year seems to have taken a long time to arrive. When the ice begins to skim the spring puddles, getting out there to experience it is a physical connection to the fact that it is indeed winter now.

I can’t explain very effectively how this helps, but it does. It satisfies something in me on a deep and personal level to make this connection to nature.

Reconnecting and Getting Back on Task

After playing for a little while in the ice and mud while bringing the hay to the horses this morning, I came back inside and organized my daily list of things to do with better focus on the task.

So it was a small thing, but the blast of cold helped. Stopping along the way to break some ice in the puddle wasn’t necessary. It was just for the fun of it. I like seeing the glassy shards of clear spring water. I took some pictures and immersed in the moment.

Year round I do similar things. Every time I begin to feel anxious about not getting enough done, I make a special effort to get outside and make contact with the world around me.

My World

The world around me is nearly wilderness. I like this. Ice and mud in spring puddles please me in strange ways, I guess. Perhaps it is a thing that appeals to my inner child. But if I lived in a city, I’m sure I’d find some other way to make this contact meaningful.

If you notice the little things in your surroundings, is there anything special that you do to facilitate that connection? Do you stop and savor the moments like this throughout your year?

Bringing Hay to Horses in Snow

After yesterday’s post where I reveled in the fact that we’d actually had a decent snowfall, we went out in the cold to bring hay to horses. The temperature was about 15*F with a windchill factor of I don’t know what, but I’m sure ridiculously cold.

Bringing Hay to Horses in Snow
Heading toward the hay stash.

Rob takes the tractor and I go ahead of him on the 4-wheeler to open the gate. Well. I’m behind him when I took this photo, but after snapping the pic of him going down the driveway, I turned around. The gate I need to open is the other direction, through the creek and over the hill at the top of the horses’ pasture.

It was COLD.

Comanche watching our approach with the hay.
Comanche watching and waiting for the tractor to arrive.

My fingers and toes were frozen. I periodically put my hands (gloves on) inside my jacket and under my arm. This warmed them up alright, but brought with it the pain and stinging of defrosting fingers.

The horses were thrilled to see the hay arrive.

Comanche in the back, Shasta in front. Kicking up heels in delight. And because Bobbie Sue was harassing them.
Comanche in the back, Shasta in front. Kicking up heels in delight. And because Bobbie Sue was harassing them.

Getting back up the hill to the house was an adventure all by itself. The tractor going down it as we left out on our mission had crushed the snow and made ice. Then it made more when it went back up. I swerved, spun tires and slid sideways and had a grand time making the 4wheeler get back home.

It felt deliciously good to go back inside the house and take off the coveralls, the gloves, and snow boots in front of the crackling wood stove.


 

Can’t see the Trees for the Forest, or rather, Snowflakes for the Snow

Yesterday we only had a little bit of snow and each little snowflake was easy to see and photograph. Now it is like not being able to see the trees for the forest. Can’t see the snowflakes for the snow.

Snow Makes the Cold More Bearable … for a little while

But I love it. I enjoy the crunchy sound of snow beneath my feet and take great pleasure in being the first to walk smooth snowy paths. But it’s cold, and I can’t keep my toes warm long enough to stay outside more than a little while.

Snowy Morning Scenes

Here’s some scenes from my feeding of critters round this morning. The dogs love the snow. Chickens are indifferent. Cats are reluctant. And the horses were just downright pissed that I took so many photo stops on the way to feeding them.

Trees for the Forest. Hen House in the Snow

Wet water (as opposed to frozen water) and food time for critters.
Wet water (as opposed to frozen water) and food time for critters. Turbo’s and the chickens’ water buckets aren’t heated, so I have to add warm water so they can drink after eating their breakfast. But they have to get to it quick while it’s still wet.

"Yucky snow."
“Yucky snow.”

Big Oak Crown

They're not sure what all the fuss is about. It's just snow.
They’re not sure what all the fuss is about. It’s just snow.

 

Horse-sickles
"Quit with the pictures and get down here and feed us!"
“Quit with the pictures and get down here and feed us!”

 

Old Tractor in Snow

The first good snow for the shop.
The first good snow for the shop.

Trees for the Forest

It’s easy to lose track of the little things that bring pleasure and joy when there’s a long list of things that need to get done and time is feeling rushed. Slowing down to take note of simple pleasures is kind of like noticing the trees in the forest, or individual snowflakes in the snowstorms. Or like stopping to smell the roses.

I’m full of metaphors this morning, I know. But I think you ‘get my drift’.

We have to go out and cut firewood in a little while, and bring hay to the horses. It’s not as fun when fingers and toes are frozen, but at least the sun is coming out now. The high today, not counting wind chill is only supposed to be 19*F.

I hope you’re enjoying your winter weather this weekend too. Stay warm!

Special Little Snowflakes

Each and every snowflake truly is unique and special.
I love to see the perfectly formed snowflakes! They’re not always so separate and unique like this. Sometimes it just looks like clumps of white fluffy ice.

First Snowfall 2017

A couple of snowflakes flurried around the other day, but today is the day I’m counting as Wild Ozark’s first official snowfall of 2017.

Snow on the Garden Rocks

Rewind: Between Autumn and Winter: A Liminal Space

We’re in a holding pattern at Wild Ozark right now, which is in its own way a sort of liminal space. Rob has two hernias and we’re waiting for the surgeon’s office to call with his appointment day/time.

So while he limits his movements to the barest possible, I’m staying nearby to fetch things so he doesn’t have to get up any more often than necessary. In the meantime, I’m working on moving the shop items to the new Nature Shop online and cleaning up my blog.

The post below was an article originally published in 2014. I’m in the process of cleaning up some old articles and formatting them to fit the standards required for Instant Articles and AMP. So I hope you enjoy this <Rewind> episode.

A Liminal Space

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

I was not disappointed in the photo opportunities.

Trees and Leaves

There were still leaves in various shades of color.

speckled smilax
speckled smilax
red oak sapling
red oak sapling
red oak leaves
red oak leaves
paper thin plum leaves
paper thin plum leaves

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

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

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

split black walnut
split black walnut
black walnut grain
black walnut grain

 

Tree Bones

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

tree bones
tree bones

 

downed trees
downed trees

Adam and Eve Orchid

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

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

Adam and Eve orchid showing leaf and connected bulbs.
Adam and Eve orchid showing leaf and connected bulbs.
adam and eve leaf
The leaf of an Adam and Eve orchid.

Fungi

tree fungi maybe ganoderma
Not sure what this is, looks like a ganoderma of some sort. It was huge.

fungi 2

shelf fungi of some sort
unknown tree fungi on horizontal overhead log.

Ferns and Green Plants

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

dogwood nut on mossy rock

ferns
ferns
green fern frond
green fern frond

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

sprite hideout
sprite hideout

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

frost bronzed rattlesnake fern
frost bronzed rattlesnake fern
rattlesnake fern
rattlesnake fern

Ozark Mountain Springs

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

spring grass
spring grass

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

a dripping spring
a dripping spring
lots of water
lots of water

springs dripping

dripping spring on leaf
dripping spring on leaf

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

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

broomsedge bluestem
broomsedge bluestem

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

Kings River Falls – Photos from our hike

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

Kings River Falls Natural Area

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

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

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

Kady's first hike!
Kady’s first hike!
So sweet. Karter and my mom.
So sweet. Karter and my mom.

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

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

I'm always getting left behind.
I’m always getting left behind.

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

 

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

Rocky path at Kings River Falls Natural Area in Madison county Arkansas.
The path was rocky.
And sometimes the path was smooth.
And sometimes the path was smooth.

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

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

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

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

End of the trail

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

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

Water dripping through lush moss.

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

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

The Sound of Winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warm Egg on a Cold Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Snow is Beautiful but Hoar Frost is Magical

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

hoar frost on distant mountaintop
hoar frost on distant mountaintop

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

hoar frost zoomed a little
hoar frost zoomed a little

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

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

Winter Solstice 2015 – A Widdershin sort of Time

Winter Solstice 2015 occurs tonight at 10:03 p.m. CST

It’s a widdershin sort of time, an unwinding, a releasing. A loosening of the grip on things I need to let go of.

image to signify winter solstice, a pretty wintertime sunset
Not at winter solstice, but a pretty wintertime sunset nonetheless.

Actual New Year’s Eve

It’s Winter Solstice,  the shortest day of the year and longest night. The reason it’s my favorite day is because of tomorrow.

This eve is the true eve of the new year to me. It makes more sense to me to follow a seasonal calendar, at least for the holidays, than it does to follow the traditional Gregorian calendar. On the Gregorian calendar, Jan. 1 is the start of the new year. On the seasonal calendar, Winter solstice is the start of the new year.

Tomorrow will be a little bit longer than today was. So I like to celebrate today. Tonight I’ll light a candle. Maybe I’ll meditate a bit, maybe do some other creative activity instead, but it’s a quiet sort of celebrating that I like to do.

Ways to Celebrate

Usually, my seasonal celebrations are done when I’m alone. However, it’s easy to turn this into a group event. If it will be a family based gathering, which I would like to begin doing eventually, I’ll have everyone write down on little slips of paper some things they’d like to release from their lives. Then we’ll burn them in the woodstove and imagine the release symbolized in the rising smoke.

Yule Log

If you don’t have a woodstove, it can be a fireplace or campfire or even a barbeque pit. You can decorate a Yule log to burn, as well. If I were going to burn a Yule log, I’d tie colorful ribbons with releases written on them to the log.

Alternatively, you can write your releases directly onto splinters of wood and add them to the fire. This is the way I will do it.

Yesterday I went out to the woods and saw the hardwood tree pictured below. Just above my head level there were two large splinters of dead wood. What better medium to use for releasing than dead wood that has never touched the ground? I kept one of the large splinters because the grain is pretty and it reminds me of driftwood. The surface is smooth enough that I may engrave something on it later and hang it in my office or use it in my market booth.

tree where dead wood was found for winter solstice ritual
Not sure what kind of tree this is, but it’s either beech, ironwood, or maple. The bark is smooth and “muscular”.
dead wood for my winter solstice ritual
Even though the dead wood had been in the weather for what appears to have been a long time, it’s still solid and hard. It reminds me of driftwood.

Ideally, I’d like to burn the wood just before the solstice event occurs in my zone.

What kind of things to release? It could be anything you’d like to not experience in the coming year.

  • Fears of any sort
  • Habits that aren’t helpful
  • Destructive relationships
  • Excess weight (lol)
  • Excess stress

Mulled Cider or Wine

After burning the releases, whether on paper slips or ribbons tied to a Yule log, it’s a good time to reflect on things you’d like to add to your life. Once the old has been swept out, it’s good to replace bad habits with good ones. Once endings are acknowledged, it’s time to open the door to beginnings.

I’d like to begin this part of the celebration immediately after the time of solstice.

Releases inscribed on the splinters to burn, Filling my solstice cup with intentions for the new year to imbibe with mulled wine after the turn of the natural year. www.wildozark.com/winter-solstice/
Releases inscribed on the splinters to burn, Filling my solstice cup with intentions for the new year to imbibe with mulled wine after the turn of the natural year.

 

More information on the scientific side of solstice

You’d think that being the shortest day would mean the earliest sunset. Somehow, that’s not true.

Here’s a post from EarthSky that gives lots of details about what the winter solstice is: Everything you need to know: December solstice 2015

 

Looking forward to solstice

Pulled this one from the archives. It’s from when I worked in Bentonville, leaving before dawn and getting home after dusk. I hated that and am glad to be working from home now, but I still look forward to mid-winter’s eve.

Hurry Up Solstice. – 2009-12-16 13:34

It was nearly 6:45 this morning before pre-dawn light was enough to see deer ahead without headlights.

Length of day is important. No wonder mid-winter was so much anticipated by people who lived in close connection to the land long ago. Hell, ~I~ appreciate it now, in the modern age!

A little less than a week to go before the days begin to lengthen again. After the solstice, the next date I look forward to is mid-March. That’s when I can make it all the way to my driveway gate after work, before it’s too dark to see the chain and clip without headlights. {chuckle} I should devise my own wheel of the year with dates that are meaningful to me.

I wonder if Llewellyn has a title on the shelf like that yet? And I wonder if it would apply to anyone but me…

Post a comment if there are special days of the year you look forward because of how it affects your interaction with the Earth or Nature.*  Besides opening day of deer season, I mean.


 

*I won’t be back online for a few more days, but will be interested in your comments and will reply as soon as I can, I promise.

sunset 12-28-13
sunset 12-28-13

Looking back on 10 years of roughing it in the Ozarks – Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Many would consider us still roughing it. Life is a lot more comfortable here now, but we learned a lot about survival since we moved to these wild Ozark hills.

turkeys

Our Wild Ozark Origins

When we first moved here to the Ozarks from south Louisiana, we lived in a very old house. We were a family of five who’d moved from a 2500 sq ft home to less than 1000 sq ft. This old house was not what most would consider “livable” and would very likely have been condemned as unfit in most civilized places.

old homesite
The front yard of our old house, after we bought the property but before we moved up here.

However, even as poor as conditions were, it was still far more comfortable than it must have been when the early settlers to our area built it. By the time we’d moved into it, there were bedrooms and a kitchen added on. Oh, and a bathroom. Sort of. The bathroom had a toilet and sink, but no bath or shower.

Until we built our new house, we used a kiddie pool rigged to a hose, with a spray nozzle for the shower. Living this way was definitely not for the faint of heart! It was cold in the winter time, but at least we did have a hot water heater.

Our makeshift shower for roughing it
Our makeshift shower for roughing it

At first, the old house was only a one-room cabin with a fireplace. If you look underneath and in the attic, hand-hewn beams of red oak mark the oldest part. Those old beams are so dried out and hardened that a nail will bend before penetrating if you try to hammer it in.

Cold Winters

That old house was cold in the winter, even with the modern wood stove that had taken the place of the fireplace years before we’d arrived. But the wood-stove was the only thing that kept the house warm enough for wintertime survival. There were so many holes in the floors and cracks in the walls that running an electric heater was an exercise in futility and expense. We still did it anyway in an attempt to supplement the heat in corners where the fire didn’t seem to reach.

We’d close the door to the kitchen so we didn’t have to heat a room not in use, so at least the living room and bedrooms would stay a little warmer. We’d leave the sink running a little so the water lines didn’t freeze up. Once, it got so cold in the kitchen at night, the next morning I had stalagmites in the sink. We had to keep food in the refrigerator so it wouldn’t freeze on the counters or shelves.

Stalagmites in the sink one cold winter morning.
Stalagmites in the sink one cold winter morning.

Once, when the kids and husband had traveled south to visit family near the warmer gulf coast for a couple of weeks in December, I stayed behind for work. There was a winter storm during that time and I couldn’t get the fire lit because of back-draft. That night I slept in my coat and hat and pants and socks in a 0*F sleeping bag. As long as I didn’t get out of it, I was pretty toasty and comfy. I marveled at how hardy the settlers who first lived in this house must have been. I can’t even imagine sleeping in relative warmth without the modern conveniences of at least a warm sleeping bag.

I guess the point of this story is that even though it was rough at times, I’ve been thankful the entire time I’ve been here. Although I lived in relative suburban comfort before the move to the Ozarks, I was unhappy there. Something burned in my heart to live in a remote area of the world, where water flowed clear and the seasons were easily marked.

I needed to tap the soul of the wilderness.

Adapting to a harder life

My children suffered for a while during our transition up here. I think they’ve recovered now, ten years later. No sane mother would have taken the measures I had to follow that “follow your bliss” call. Much comfort was sacrificed and lost during what seemed to most a selfish pursuit of a selfish dream.

But I never claimed to be sane.

And there were fun times for them, too.

The kids at Ponca
Gab, her friend Kayla, and Garrison playing at Ponca
hobo zack
Zack

Much was gained, too. The boys, in particular, really took to roughing it and the rural life and enjoyed learning to hunt and trap. My daughter is now quite proficient at cooking real food made from real ingredients grown in real gardens. And she’s doing a great job of raising her kids to know country life survival, without having thrown them into a crash course in a run-down shack of a house the way I did with them.

I can’t imagine how my life would have been today without having made the choices I made before. The kids are all grown now and have remained in these hills that have become their adopted home. Since moving here I’ve been divorced, and then remarried, now to a man who is truly my soul mate and who also loves this life in the wild Ozark hills. He’s the reason I was able to stay on this land I grew to love. All in all, in spite of the rocky path it took to arrive, I’m still thankful I made the crazy and sometimes excruciatingly difficult choices I made to get us here.

Gloria, the Old Oak Tree
Gloria, the Old Oak Tree
She’s grown a lot in the eleven years since we arrived.

Happy Thanksgiving from Wild Ozark!

I hope all of you out there reading this have plans for a pleasant Thanksgiving day (if you’re in the US), and if you’re not American or celebrating our American holiday, I hope you are still going to take time to reflect on all you have to be thankful for.

It’s a day early, I realize. But tomorrow I will likely not be online to make this post so I figured it was better early than late.

Actually, gratitude is a good practice for every day. It’s too easy to begin taking the little things for granted. Then it becomes harder to notice the little things that make life more bearable. Soon it becomes too easy to complain about all the little things that make life harder. And then suddenly it’s too easy to forget that there are so many ways that our lives are wonderful and awesome even in spite of our difficulties.

If you have an origin story to share about how you found and settled your homestead, I’d love to hear it.

First Freeze 2015 in the Ozarks

First Freeze

It was 30*F when I looked outside this morning near daybreak. Honestly, it was somewhat after daybreak. Yesterday’s fun with the grandkids wore me plumb out and I slept like a rock past my alarm.

Technically, the sun rises around 0600 but because of Wild Ozark’s narrow valley, it doesn’t shine through the windows until closer to 0730.

Autumn sunrise shining through Gloria's leaves.
Autumn sunrise shining through Gloria’s leaves. Yes. The tree has a name.

It always seems to get a few degrees cooler in the span of time between actual sunrise and *our* sunrise.

So I’m not sure whether this is a first freeze or a second frost. Yesterday was first frost. But since it was below 32*F, I think it is considered first freeze.

This time last year, we had frost flowers for my birthday on Nov. 15. So it had to have been quite a bit cooler to achieve that. Here’s the post I wrote about them: https://www.wildozark.com/frost-flower-kind-morning/.

Random notes

It’s hard to believe that this website (in it’s current incarnation) is only one year old as of day after tomorrow.

I’ll be speaking/teaching at Hobbs State Park on November 22 on nature writing for the Village Writing School of Eureka Springs. I don’t have all the details for that yet, but let me know if you’d like a reminder.

This morning I was out of milk for my oatmeal and I used coconut milk in stead. That was actually pretty good! Good thing I had a random can of it in the pantry. I wished I’d had a spare can of evaporated milk, but was happy to try the coconut.

What have you been up to lately?

March Snow in the Ozarks

Traffic is always crazy when there’s snow in the Ozarks. We had to go into Fayetteville this morning. It was raining and I knew the colder weather was coming in, but we figured we should be able to get there and back before the roads started icing. Halfway there I noticed ice building up on the mirrors. Not a good sign. Soon the roads were covered with slippery sleet. Got the urgent errand done and had to take an alternate route home because the little car wouldn’t get up the big sleet covered hill. Finally reached our county road and made it across the low-water bridges with a few inches of water over them. Whew! What a trip. We only saw one vehicle in the ditch. Someone going to fast most likely.

Here’s some pictures from the ongoing Ozark Blizzard of March 2015. The horses are NOT happy about this.

March Snow in the Ozarks

 

A couple of hours later…

The Next Day

This little storm I hope is Winter’s Last Stand for this year. These photos were taken the day after the previous ones. Temps started out this morning around 15*F. Now, at 1400 it is about 42*F and the next days through the weekend and into next week are going to warm up even more. So the snow won’t be here long. Maybe spring will finally get a turn with Mother Nature.

snow covered oak limbs

Raising the Bar at Wild Ozark

Today we were gifted with more snow. Yesterday when I got out of bed, the sun shown brightly with promises of warmth at least from direct sunlight. So I let the horses out to scrounge around for what little grass might be popping up from beneath melted snow from last week. We decided to go to town to get more hay. By the time we’d paid for the hay and were walking out the door it had become overcast and snow fell from the skies. That was unexpected.

Snow continued to fall, tiny powder flakes, for the rest of the day. Thankfully, the horses came when I called and I didn’t have to get on the 4-wheeler to go retrieve them from a grassy honey-hole somewhere.

The snow drifted down slowly all night long, too. Still only about an inch or two collected on the ground. But snow is still falling now at 1018, and the flakes are bigger and falling with what seems intention to cover all with a blanket of white.

southeastward

This year is still new-ish, but already it’s gathering speed and momentum. Look- February is already gone! Before we know it, we’ll all crash through the finish line of yet another year. Here at Wild Ozark we’re experiencing the thrill and excitement of raising the bar. Since it’s so early in the year, the challenge will be to continue to meet these expectations…

Excitement at Wild Ozark

Egg-cellent Performance

strange colored eggI’ll start with the chickens. Their greatest accomplishment this year had to do with eggs. The hens raised the bar on their own performance this past week by laying eight eggs yesterday, more than we’ve had all season in one day so far. And one of the hens left a very unusually colored egg in the nest. One hen has decided that the hay storage area is a better place for a nest and has begun sneaking in there to lay eggs, then escaping from the window that has no glass left in it afterward. Altogether we have 15 hens and a rooster. Four of them are new and won’t begin laying until possibly spring.

The maran’s are trying to get the color saturation right, I guess. Their eggs become very dark brown later in the season. One of the green egg layers laid two eggs in one day, two days in a row! Talk about feats hard to beat.

On the Business Front

  • Lots of addresses on the nursery plant list. Twenty interested persons have asked to be added to the nursery mailing list. This is a great start for a small nursery. Each year we’ll have more to offer and better variety. This first year will test the waters on demand so I’ll know how much of everything to plant for next year’s market season.
  • The Huntsville Farmer’s Market begins some time in April or early May. Our first meeting to plan is on March 17, so I’ll have more details then. I’ll be there at least on the weekday market every week with Ginseng Habitat Related books, information, and  plants to sell. The slide-show on USB will be playing on the monitor so if you can’t or don’t want to buy it, come by and watch for free and enjoy the good market company. It’ll be fun just to visit. I’d love to hear your ginseng stories.
  • Wild Ozark sold more books in one month than ever before! 52 and the day isn’t even over yet.
  • Survey Results – thank you to all of you who voted in my survey about the best format for a photo book. The results say that in spite of the higher cost, most prefer a hard copy book. For second place results were tied between the USB and magazine format. There are five winners of the Wild Ozark Herbs DVD/slideshow to be notified. I’ll need to collect addresses for shipping. Those winners are listed below.
  • Landed a grant from United Plant Savers to install ginseng habitat – my first ever successful grant application (and the first grant ever applied for). This will pay for printing booklets for the next and greatest of the bar-raising highlights so far…
  • Wild Ozark will work in conjunction with Peel-Compton Gardens in Bentonville to install a ginseng habitat, complete (of course) with ginseng and companion plants. This will be a public place people can go to see and learn about ginseng. I’m so excited by this project. The goal is to provide a hands-on interaction with ginseng and the companions. It will help teach how to identify and protect the habitat. Our hope is that with education about the fragility of the ecosystem, we can help protect the plant and give knowledge to those new to the lure of digging. We hope to instill a sense of stewardship and long-term thinking and planning, thereby providing the means to ensure ginseng’s survival for generations to come. We hope others will become interested in restoring habitats on private property for a plant steeped in history and lore. Once we get started working on this project this spring, I’ll chronicle our progress on a page all of its own. If you’re on my monthly newsletter list, you’ll be sure to get the announcement when that page is ready, or you can watch for it here or on the social medias. Newsletter members may get special announcements or invitations regarding this project that I don’t post to my blog…

Winners of the Wild Ozark Herbs DVD/Slide-show

  • Piya
  • Terry
  • Jim
  • Carla
  • Bill

Thank you for voting! I’ll be emailing you for your mailing addresses.

 

Snow and Ice in the Ozarks

Snow and ice are a common winter-time theme of my photos out here in the wild Ozarks. I like the balance of movement and stasis and implied potential in this photo of the snow capped rocks. The creek continues to flow no matter how cold or frozen the surface becomes, even if it must do so below the ground’s surface. And yet the ice embraces solidity and resists change, giving way only slowly in the return to liquid state when the sun warms even the shady spots. Beneath the snow, grass is already beginning to green up and even while they sleep, trees siphon trace minerals and nourishment from the slow snow melt.

snow capped creek rocks by gate
Snow capped creek rocks