I have a housefull of things collected. Some I actually do get around to using, some stay on a shelf gathering dust. A few of the most prized collected things are just there for me to look at and enjoy, like the hornet’s nest and abandoned bird nest hanging in my office.
Most mornings after feeding the critters I take a walk for exercise. Sometimes I slow-jog or fast-walk. I’m still working on building back up to that part of it, and I’m still working on getting back up to a mile.
This morning was the first time since I was sick that I made the whole mile!
Well, with me, a walk is never just a walk. I’m looking around even when fast-walking. Usually I try to remember things of interest and come back to it later with the camera. Since I started doing the walks for exercise more than for exploration, I quit bringing the camera with me.
If I’m not noticing things to collect or plants to identify, I’m thinking of my writing projects and working through issues with stories.
This morning, though, I saw a few things I just had to break my stride for.
Here’s a picture of my things collected from this morning.
The first thing that stopped me was a plant. Plants are frequently subject to making the list of my things collected.
This is one I transplanted into a pot last spring and can’t remember what it is. Right now it’s dormant, so all it is is a cluster of roots and a bud for next spring. So it’s hard to identify since it’s not one I already know.
The thing is, everytime I check on this plant, something has uprooted and tossed it out of the pot. The same thing happened last night.
So I repotted it again and carried it with me. It’ll wait at the house until spring and I can see what it is then.
Then I saw the red and yellow sweet gum leaf. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It is perfectly colored, no holes or tears, and very bright.
Yes, I know there are hundreds if not thousands of beautiful leaves on the ground right now. As you can see, I picked up a few more that struck my fancy, too.
I just learned how to use glycerin to preserve leaves and it leaves them pliable and their color stays vibrant. A solution to preserve plants like this is 1/3 cup glycerin and 2/3 cups of water. I reuse the same bath for a long time. Just keep it covered.
So now when I see a leaf I want to keep for future use, most likely on pixies or other crafty things, I take it home and pop it into the glycerin-water bath I keep waiting on the shelf in the kitchen. Then I put rocks on top of the leaves to keep them completely submerged for a few days. Take them out and rinse them off after 4 or so days, then let them air dry.
After the leaves, which are quickly becoming obsessively collected things, and before I was halfway back to the house, I spied the little dead praying mantis. I’ve always been fascinated with these creatures but never have the opportunity to look very closely at them. So it became one of my gathered things too. How lucky! It wasn’t even stiff, so I could open the wings and look at the grabbing legs, even.
Among my things collected in the past, there is also a dead hummingbird. how often do you get to see a hummingbird up close in real life? Only when it’s a dead one, that’s when.
Then there were some perfect little acorn caps. Again, I know there are plenty of these lying around, but many of them are cracked or doubled, and I use the singles for pixie baskets. So I picked them up when I spotted them.
So there’s a summary of my oddities; my collected things for the day.
What kinds of things do you stop to pick up during your hikes or walks? I always swoop in for bones and arrowheads and fossils, too. Just didn’t see any this morning.
Hey, it adds to the exercise routine when I have to carry extra weight up the long hill back to the house!
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.