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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Midwest Old Growth Forest Tour: Part 1

We took two weeks this October to travel around the Midwest and visit some of the Old Growth Forests we've not been to and soak up the magic of these ancient, biodiverse rich lands. 

First though, we traveled to our homeland of Indiana to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday and Steve's Mom's 70ish birthday. Here's most of the granddaughters (but not all, nor the grandsons) and the lovely lady herself.

Image may contain: 8 people, including Jennifer Kleinrichert, Julia Vorndran, Jenna Loftus, Jill Zeitz, Lori Bones and Nikki Silva, people smiling, people standing and indoor

After leaving family, we began our maiden voyage in the little camper and stayed at Brown County State Park to get our systems worked out, which we did other than the solar setup, but we will get there.

Thanks to our old trusty Indiana Gazatteer and serendipitous adventure that happens without a strict itinerary, we found TC Steele State Historic Site and happily walked through beautiful forest protected by people with huge hearts and vision.

We then traveled on to our first true Old Growth Forest (capitalized because of their significance), most of which has been cut and destroyed in this country. This 88 acres, the largest tract in Indiana, was spared. Think on that a moment: 88 acres out of greater than 22 million acres of land and water in Indiana. Let's do the math: 88/22,000,000 * 100 equals 0.0004%. WOW.

We decided after mourning those long gone trees, vast stetches of forest, vernal pools and all the life connected to them, we would focus on what it is still here and what can be done to make more.

Knowledge, then hope and action is always the best way forward for us. Previously, too much time spent absorbing ecosystem devastation for so long put us both in places of inaction and depression and what good is that?

Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest in Indiana (Hoosier National Forest) felt otherworldly. How I else do I put it? Ancient, wise, survivors, Mother Trees...

I walked in front of Steve for much of the hike and cried silent tears for most of the way. The power in the trees swept through me - up, down, in, out.

Thanks to the Cox family for never cutting this forest and allowing us to experience this forest and imagine the land as it was.

The cool temperatures stilled the insects and reptiles around us, but their lives in this forest filled us with joy and hope.

"I don't wanna be the only one living when all of my friends are gone." Lord Huron. That's what I hear in my heart as I look at this picture and remember.

Our next stop took us further into the Hoosier National Forest, where we found another gift: American Persimmons, perfectly ripe and ready for satiating hungry bellies.

I promise to write the follow up posts yet this month. Until then, join me in sharing your wonder or joy or love or kindness. Let's add some more goodness to the world and share it with one another.

Wednesday Wonder Videos:

11/7/18 - Monarch in NovemberToday Jennifer begins a weekly short video clip sharing a moment of wonder or joy or awe she experienced and we both would love to hear your own weekly inspiration. Please type in the comments so everyone can share in the goodness. Let's create some brightness in this world friends!

11/14/18 - Eastern Wahoo: This past weekend at another fabulous Arc of Appalachia invasive plant removal workday, a friend spotted a native Eastern Wahoo (think native version and completely not invasive relative of Burning Bush) and I just had to highlight the beauty of this plant. We hope to grow some! What's your wonder or love for the week?

If you want to be super inspired by the efforts of those with passion and a mission, please check out Their work clearing the invasives is what is giving plants like this fabulous Wahoo a chance to live, thrive and reproduce!