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The New Year has arrived in grand fashion. It is well noted as the time of year when we make resolutions to reach various goals. Many make commitments to exercise, lose weight or change unhealthy habits and lifestyles. Others strive to reach monetary goals and perhaps get out of debt, once and for all…if that’s even remotely possible of course. My resolution each year is always the same…to get out in the woods more often and explore…I simply couldn’t survive without it.

Dawn of a New Year

Dawn of a New Year

I have always been deeply moved by the writings of David Henry Thoreau and John Muir. One of my favorites by Thoreau is…“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

All of us enjoy the time we spend in Nature, but have you ever really considered why? I think it’s because…”we ARE Nature.” Too often, I believe, we look at Nature and the Environment as being somewhere “out there,” separate from ourselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re all made from the same building blocks. Plants provide us with oxygen and in exchange, we emit carbon dioxide. It’s a perfect relationship. With that in mind, the fact that 61% of our genes can be found in the common fruit fly and 35% in a daffodil should come as no surprise. It’s all part of God’s plan. We are truly ALL connected…and that’s a beautiful thing!

We’ve all heard and read numerous well documented stories of people with various illnesses and disorders that have seemingly been miraculously… Read the rest of this entry »

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Winter Wonderland !!

The beginning of Winter is just a few days away and I’m excited about the outdoor opportunities it offers. The Moon is waning at the moment as we move toward the beginning of Winter this Sunday, the 21st. After a beautiful Fall I welcome the changing weather. With the leaves off the trees, it’s a great time to explore your favorite patch of woods. Animal sign is easy to interpret, as their trails and runs are very visible this time of year. It’s truly a great opportunity to learn about your woodland neighbors.

Much of the East coast experienced a poor crop of Acorns this year. I could hardly find any in my woods and I’m sure our local squirrel and deer population have been affected by the lack of food. I read recently that some scientists fear the shortage may affect squirrel and deer populations as a result. Indeed, I have noticed that the population of squirrels on my property seems to be less now than last year, and I’ve seen a few that were uncommonly small. Since acorn production runs in cycles though, it’s not that uncommon to have lean year after a year of abundance. Perhaps next year will balance things out. We did however experience a good year for Black Walnut and Hickory nuts. Both are absolutely delicious, though it is a bit tedious to extract the nutmeats. I find it well worth my effort .

Numerous species of migrating birds have been… Read the rest of this entry »

In a previous article, I suggested that slowing down while hiking or exploring would allow you to see more wildlife and enhance your experience on your outdoor adventures. I received a few emails from some folks who loved the idea, but have a hard time getting around. Hiking just isn’t an option for them.

Room with a view

Room with a view

Here’s a great idea, not just for folks that aren’t as mobile but literally for all of us. I call it a “sit spot”, (or “secret place” when I teach it to children). The good news is you usually don’t have to travel far. Here’s the concept. Find a slightly out of the way place on your property, or perhaps at a nearby park and simply sit down, relax and just observe. You can even bring a chair if you’d like, though I prefer to sit on the ground. I know, I know…this sounds a lot like a previous article, but a “sit spot” is different. Indulge me for a moment. This is one of the Healthiest and FUN things you can do.  This is a place you should visit several times a week, if possible. This practice will allow you to get to know one area intimately instead of roaming all over. Most of us think we know our property pretty well, but this exercise might just change your mind. If you have the discipline to do this for an entire year, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll……
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Eastern Coyote (Canis latrans)

Last Sunday evening I awoke to an increasingly familiar sound…the howls of several coyotes echoed through the neighboring woods, piercing the cool night air. I can tell you from experience that waking, from a sound sleep, to the raucous chorus of coyotes can be a bit startling, but I absolutely LOVE IT! In fact, I sleep with the windows open, most of the year, just so I don’t miss such happenings.

I rent a quaint house, here in Tryon, NC, nestled in a sizable patch of woods. The lower portion of the property contains a small creek, which I love to explore. My creek has minnows, aquatic insects and a few crayfish. Clearly, the creek is the heartbeat of these woods. Deer, turkey, raccoons, hawks, owls, and a multitude of woodland creatures frequent this area…but they are not alone. The coyote keeps a watchful eye on all that happens here. Always observing, calculating and patiently waiting for an opportunity. Make no mistake…this is one savvy wild dog. Perhaps no other wild animal can live in such close proximity to man, and yet be so completely unseen.

This past Winter I had an encounter with the local coyote pack I will never forget… Read the rest of this entry »

Spring officially sprung a few weeks ago and I couldn’t be happier. After an uneventful and relatively mild Winter, I welcome the return of our vast array of plants and wildlife; of course the warm weather doesn’t hurt either. Over the past few weeks we’ve been serenaded by Spring peepers and countless songbirds. Butterflies have started to emerge and are feeding on the numerous flowering plants and trees…but this is just the beginning of things to come.

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail

I’m always amazed and inspired by the change of the seasons, but Spring holds a special place in my Heart. Spring is a time of renewal and indescribable beauty. As the plants grow they provide a vast array of colors and food, not just for the local wildlife, but for us as well. In fact, some of our best wild edible greens are available right now!

This past week, I’ve been dining on dandelion, chickweed and violet leaves and flowers. They make a wonderfully nutritious addition to salads or can stand on their own. Other available favorites include… Read the rest of this entry »

DID YOU KNOW?

Autumn Olive (elaegnus umbellata) berries contain up to 17 times more lycopene than tomatoes? Lycopene has powerful antioxidant properties. These wild berries make an excellent jelly and are available right now!!

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