Sunday, October 25, 2015

We Are In The Local Bookstore

So, I walked into a coffee shop / bookstore and there we were!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blueberry Tweet

https://twitter.com/EricBrown1969/status/618890374308741120

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Red Belted Polypore

I spotted this 30 meters off the trail!

Lady Slippers

Lovely flowers to share the woods.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Lesson In Procrastination

OK.  Procrastination may not be exactly the correct word.  We do get busy during some times of the year.  Often on this MooseBoots path, I need to chose one activity over another.  Last Fall, I focused on foraging to the exclusion of finishing the yard clean-up before Winter.  Or, was I distracted by the home repairs that needed to get done.

Regardless, today, I planned to boil some sap into syrup.  The season has been very slow in coming.  It looked right, then it got cold again, then it got too warm for sap to flow, then ....

I dumped all of the buckets into the barrel this morning and was thrilled to have amassed 24 gallons of sap.  I have enough to boil down into 0.5 gallons (2 liters) or so.

Of course, there were other things to do, too.  Gather kids, pick up scraps from a local restaurant, get some feed for the rabbits, etc.  By the time all of that was done, it was 13:00 and I still had not gathered any wood for the boil.  I also realized that the fire pit was full of scrap wood, snow, and ice.
I recruited Little Fire Faery to build a fire in the pit to clear it.  I spent a few hours scouring the woods for dead wood for the boil.  Then, it was time to take a break and eat a late lunch.  While we were just starting, we got a visit from my Mom and Niece, which is a rare treat.  We sat and talked for a while, until they had to leave.

Even though there is not much to boil, it was too late to start at 17:00.  Of course, the fire pit was still not clear enough.  So, I spent a little while feeding more scrap wood into the pit to clear it.  I reassembled the brick wind break that surrounds the pans.

So, here I sit at 18:30.  We are ready for our first boil sometime this week.


In spite of the fact that the way we boil is a lot of hard work, I am so grateful for the gifts Nature gives.  I cherish the time spent in gathering food and supplies to sustain my family ... the honest direct results of effort expended ... healthy food, warm fires, the serenity of knowing that I am a part of the incredible natural world that so many of us miss because we do not stop to look for it.

Now, my only concern, on this MooseBoots journey, is getting the sap boiled before it is forecast to hit near 60 F on Friday.  I certainly hope that that will not be the end of the season.  

Although, I am very eager to get out fishing, hunting, gathering ... foraging!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Alarming Events - A Real Wake Up Call

I awoke to the cardinals singing.  Perhaps, they knew I would be tapping trees today, and were beckoning me to rise and get moving.  Or, they were singing with pure bliss that Spring is here after a long, snowy Winter.

Other thoughts filled my head.  I was thinking about the class about backyard maple sugaring that we plan to offer this year.  More precisely, I was considering how to help people find maples when it is just time to tap.  I have been asked many times, but wanted to find a way to show it rather than just describe it.  Lying on the bed, I pulled the curtains aside to look at the sky.  This perfect descriptive view greeted me.


The tree on the left is a maple.  The one on the right is an oak.  Just looking at the photo as is, we can see some of the difference.  Closer inspection of a real tree, not a photo taken with a phone, will yield others.:
  • Maple branch and twig ends are slender.  Oaks twig ends flare out.
  • Maple branches gracefully sweep toward the sky.  Oak branches twist and bend with each fork.
  • Maples will shed all of their leaves in the fall.  Oaks will often hold some of the dry leaves.
  • Maple twigs and leaf buds are arranged in an opposite configuration.  Oaks prefer to be alternate.
 
  • Maple sap will start flowing about a month before that of the oaks.  Check the tips of the twigs for signs of life.  Early in the season the buds will be small on the maple trees, but they will be alive.  In fact, the buds will be fully developed, full size and obvious, at the end of the sugaring season.  My trees are Red Maples and when the sap starts to flow the tips of the twigs turn red instead of the gray the showed through the Winter.
  • Maples will drop maple leaves.  Oaks drop oak leaves and acorns.  If the ground is not too snowy, check the base of the tree to see what is there.  Obviously, this will work better if there is only one  type of tree in the area or if the tree is standing alone.
  • Maples, when tapped this time of year, will produce sap.  Oaks will not (see bullet above about sap flow).  Note, it is OK to make mistakes, because that is how we learn (sometimes we need to learn this lesson two years in a row).
  • If you are not in a hurry, you can wait for the Summer and make note of you maples for next year.
Yes, the cycle of the year has taken us back to sugaring season!  With each passing year, this MooseBoots learning feels more and more right.  I am truly blessed.
 
 
 
 
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring Is Ringing The Door Bell ... Welcome It In

I like to think that I have developed a bit of awareness of my surroundings.  I know that I would like to continue to hone these skills.  I am so proud when Little Fire Faery points things out in nature ... a bird in a tree, a snake, a plant.  Her casual, easy connection with the Earth, and its host of beings, inspire me to work harder.

This Winter has been a particularly snowy one for us.  Well, really January and February were.  I recall thinking, in December, how mild the Winter was and how we would have plenty of firewood.  Perhaps, I jinxed us, but we received a number of storms that dumped more than a foot of snow at a time.  It gets harder to shovel the snow as the season winds on.  Usually, there are some warm days that help the snow settle a bit .... snow banks get a bit shorter.

This year, I have really become aware of the cardinals.  It happened a week or so ago, when it seemed like a few more big snow storms were taking us in their sites.  On morning, I opened the door to let the cat out and it hit me right in the face.  The world had exploded into cheery cardinal song, with calls and songs, surrounding me.  I could hear calls in every direction.


Cardinals and chickadees are year-round residents for us.  While the chickadees will sing their songs in the worst of the winter, often in the midst of storms, I don't remember ever hearing the cardinals.  I have seen them silently huddled in trees, or flitting to a feeder for a snack.

In some nature cultures, the cardinal is the daughter of the sun.  For me, this is particularly significant this year.  I have taken the cardinals as the messengers, carrying Spring in their songs, singing it back to us.  I have heard their song every day since that one.  The forecast is starting to show signs that the weather is turning.  I am watching the maples for signs that it is time to tap.

Spring is here!  And, had I not started down this MooseBoots path, had I not begun trying to reconnect with the Earth, I would not be so filled with joy at hearing this beautiful song.

May your day be filled with beauty and warmth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hazelnuts

Last fall, I was fortunate enough to beat the local critters to some of the hazelnuts that blessed our area.  I gathered about 5 lbs worth.  Of course, the husks need to dry before the nuts can be removed reliably.

With an injured ankle, and vigilant family hounding  me to keep from using it, I sat down to remove the now dry husks.  While 5 pounds of nuts sounds like a lot, and looked like a lot with the husks, it fills not much more that a single quart sized jar with the husks removed.

Here they are.  I am half way through the complete process.  Next, I need to shell them.


Life is good!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Pressure Is Building

This is the first day in a long time that the temperature is expected to reach into the upper 30s here.  It has caused me to really begin thinking about the coming sugaring season!  I can not wait to get out and tap the trees.

Oh yeah ... we are planning to continue Foraging Sundays with more emphasis on storing foods to be able to go year round!

My winter slumber is nearing its end.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Something Has Shifted

Before the holidays, I was in a deep, deep funk.  In fact I wrote a blog post that I could not even put up here.  It was uncharacteristically dark, for me.  Things seemed to conspire against me ... from the mold growing in the still un-insulated space we had re-roofed to the girl who backed out of a parking spot and hit me (while I was stopped at a traffic light).


I took some time off.  I needed to use up my nearly two weeks of remaining vacation time ... I could probably used the cash, but I needed the change of pace more.  During the 16 days hiatus, I feel like something shifted. 


Being in a deep funk, I checked in with my spirit guides and allies.  I don't remember mush of the journey.  I went to a council fire.  I asked that we all meet.  We sat near a fire in my sacred medicine space.  I stated the "problem" and asked for guidance and help.  I must have drifted off to sleep.
I woke 30 minutes later feeling incredibly light, refreshed.  Something had shifted, perhaps only my perspective.
 
It is time.  While I still work as an engineer, it is time for me to start the next phase of my life.  I have trained with Shamans to be an apprentice.  I want to help people, to make a difference in the world.  Shamans have traditionally performed any number of tasks:
  • Healing
  • Leading ceremonies
  • Preserving  culture (through stories and songs)
  • Fortune Telling
  • Acting as a guide to souls
While I would never call give myself the title Shaman, I have training in all of these things.  I need to build more experience in these things.  Unlike indigenous shamanic practitioners, I will continue to support myself financially through my existing career, in lieu of relying on my community.






If you could use my help, please ask.  I am glad to offer my services.  I can offer any of these things in person (if you live nearby) or over any distance.  Do not feel compelled to give anything, unless you feel so inclined after the work has proven beneficial for you.



The Universe is truly generous with her gifts.  I am so grateful that she has guided me, along my MooseBoots path, to this point in my life.