Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy 2018 Winter Solstice! Gratitude reigns supreme....

Dear friends,

We are at the longest night length of the year and the shortest day length and it's a momentous day for many. The return of the light is everything to us....two outdoor souls ill equipped for long luxurious night time basks in the dark and cold. The return of light and warmth once again frees our spirits and we appreciate it more with each passing year.

..This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath, the door
of a vanished house left ajar...

― Margaret Atwood, Eating Fire: Selected Poetry 1965-1995 

We spend our precious daylight hours outdoors, soaking up the magic of the winter season and the dear friendship of kindred spirits.

We marvel at lepidopteran life that awakens with the warmth of sunshine and move about in their little grass homes munching a bit here and there and finding a new cozy slumber spot to nestle into. This Virginia Ctenucha caterpillar roamed the old field on this little 3.5 acres in mid-December. Adults of these moths number in the dozens and dozens and dozens here in the summer time; that tells us they are happy here...all they need to survive is right here on this small, but mighty patch of ground.

Our love for this planet, one another, our family, our friends, for respect and gratitude, for our furry and feathered friends and so much more grows infinitely more important every day we live...

and every time we say good bye. Flora left us at only 8 or 9 years old on 12/5/18, a victim of cancer. She was so loved every day of her life since she found us and we miss her in that black hole kind of way. We look for her unconsciously in all her spots, don't see her and sinkingly remember. She now returns to the Earth next to her long gone friend, Bobcat. Wildflowers will grow from her gift of nutrients and we will spread them far.

With every death, we are reminded of the preminent importance and joy of life. Our years are adding up and we are slowly learning the gift of presence...something always talked about, but not really experienced or understood until we found that place that puts us in our hearts, not thinking, just feeling and loving and appreciating.

That place is one you know, no doubt, if you follow this blog.

We find presence and joy every single time we look around this big, beautiful planet.

And so we hold onto hope, knowing the efforts we put forth to help our planet are small in comparison to the destruction wrought by powers so much larger than us, but we continue to join with you, to put forth goodness and make sure to let joy and gratitude seep in and overwhelm us. What better gift can we offer this life we get to live?

We soaked up much-needed sunshine this past week, while offering goodness: sorting native seed - the bearers of tremendous functional medicine for this planet.

In case you missed our Wonder Wednesday videos on You Tube, I've linked to the most recent below. These are a glimpse of the spark that lights us up - captured just for you. Please share yours with us too because we feel we all need more light and understanding in our lives...

Saving Birds

Tipping Plants Pt. 1 Tipping Plants Pt. 2

Witch Hazel, Clear Streams and AZT plans

Happy Winter Solstice dear friends and family. We are so excited for the returning light!

Many hugs and much love.

P.S. Soundtrack:

Atlantic City
House of Winston
I Believe

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Midwest Old Growth Forest Tour: Part 2

As I write today the snow is blowing outside, the chickens are huddled in their coop, the cats are laying in a ring around the woodstove and we busted out our snow pants and winter bibs for our daily tour. Winter is here for sure, but let's take a quick pause and remember autumn and the finale of our first purposeful Midwest Old Growth Forest tour.

In Part 1, I ended on the native American Persimmon, one of the most delicious of all fruits to us and lots of wildlife including the Eastern Comma butterfly pictured below. These butterflies are a marvel to us....overwintering as adults under bark and other sheltered places and then emerging on warm days to dine on fruit juices or scats or sap runs.

Persimmon oatmeal was a staple for us for a few days. Mmmmmm!

We totally felt like glampers having a whole kitchen to prepare food in for us to eat...

We quite enjoyed the ease for a change...

All these A. Persimmon seeds were cleaned, dried and stored so we can grow many more Persimmon trees for wildlife and for you!

We camped in the Two Lakes area of Hoosier National Forest, an area we backpacked long, long ago and soaked up the diverse forest. It's funny to think that 11.4 mile trail we first hiked as a double overnight and now we do those miles in one day!

Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana) seeds are so showy and fantastic and always make us stop and ogle. One of these vines popped up in our chicken aviary this summer, thanks no doubt to our friends the wind or birds, so we are training the plant to grow on top...can you imagine?

Trail food for us looks a bit different when we have access to our little camper kitchen. Below is a fabulous sweet potato grown from starts we purchased from Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds. Imagine the antioxidants in this and know the flavor is so so so so good. We highly recommend!

The weather started to shift when the jet stream dropped low into the U.S. bringing rain and cool temps so we decided to head a bit further west into Missouri, but before we did we visited an old growth forest that looks very different than many think. This one is an oak barrens and the old growth trees are Blackjack and Post Oak with some topping 300 years old even though they are tiny. Challenging growing conditions makes for slow growth, but a very unique forest interspersed with prairie plants.

The temps continued to fall as we explored, but we were both enthralled with the abundance of this forest and we were so grateful to have this tiny camper so we could fit in the one-car-only parking spot.

Hawn State Park gave us a nice place to land for our first night in Missouri and to run in the morning. The park was mighty busy for us so we only stayed one night, but we soaked up the rain and the rocks and the moss on our morning trail run.

Snakes sought heat on many of the roads we drove and hiked so we saved as many as we saw that needed us still. I have such appreciation for our cold-blooded kindred. What must that be like to be the same temperature as the air? I am so cold as a warm-blooded mammal so even though I am not cold blooded, I seek out those warm places too giving me such respect for these reptiles (and amphibians and invertebrates).

The next few nights were spent along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri, the first national park area to protect a river ecosystem. The river was saved from damming by town people with visionary foresight and we got to reap the rewards of their efforts....

There are hundreds of natural springs and caves in this area that would have been buried in the damming so we explored in much gratitude.

Lone people can do so much and we were inspired many times on this trip by the efforts of one person in one area accomplishing incredible feats. Here, a virgin Shortleaf Pine forest was saved by one individual who developed this land as a working forest, occassionally harvesting trees, but in a completely sustainable way with old growth present. It's doable! This forest looked 100x better than any surrounding forest and still produced income. WOW!

If you are in Missouri, you must check this place out.

The rain and cold eventually found us in MO and our trip end drew nigh so we camped our last two nights at Land Between the Lakes in KY. We aren't generally very excited about reservoirs, but the forest surrounding these reservoirs may have been saved just because of them and we were seriously impressed with the ecologically intact and preserved bottomland forest.

A dead box turtle and a live box turtle all on one hike indicates to us a healthy population of these magnificient beings. How freakin' cool.

We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrating love and living in gratitude. Our quest for the rest of 2018 and on into the rest of our lives is seeking joy, finding joy, living in joy. JOY. JOY. JOY.

Please join us....

Your friends,

jennifer & steve

Wonder Wednesday Videos

Strong Roots, American Sycamore
The totally cute Virginia Opossum