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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 »

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A sight to behold

The beginning of Summer is just a day away and I’m excited about the possibilities and promise it has to offer. After a breathtaking Spring I welcome the grandeur of our maturing plants and wildlife. Young squirrels are everywhere, adventurously exploring their new World. Numerous species of birds have already successfully raised offspring or are in the process of. And, a beautiful pair of cardinals are raising 3 babies, in a holly tree, outside my dining room window…what a treat! I’m amazed and inspired with their dedication and their willingness to share the responsibility of caring for their young. Nature is truly a remarkable teacher.

To traditional cultures, including most of ours, (if you care to go back far enough) the Summer Solstice was a time rich with gratitude and celebration. The hot days of Summer, coupled with rain, ensured the maturity of their crops and the promise of a productive harvest. The Cherokees, for instance, would gather and Fast for several days before the Solstice to honor, pray and show appreciation for the gifts they would receive. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of these celebrations in the past and have been deeply moved by the experience.

The Moon is nearly full at the moment as we move toward the beginning of Summer this Saturday, June 21st. The gravitational pull of the Moon affects all of Earth’s inhabitants. Butterflies are appearing in large numbers and, along with our honeybees, are busy gathering nectar and pollinating numerous crops and wild plants. Also, keep your eye out for an increase in animal activity, which should be at a peak for a few days before and after the Solstice. Trout fishing in the Pacolet River should be very good too. Remember to keep your presentations subtle and you’ll have some success.

Most of the Wild Edible plants of Spring have gone to seed. Violet and dandelion leaves are still available, but are maturing quickly. Lambs quarters, one of our best wild greens are abundant and readily available. When cooked like spinach, the taste and nutrition is second to none. I’ve been eating quite a few clover and dandelion fritters lately as well. I dip the flowers in egg and dust them with whole wheat flower before frying them lightly in olive oil. Drain them on paper towels and dip them in honey, while hot, and you’ll have a tasty treat that even the kids will eat! And, it’s healthy too. Many wild berries are beginning to develop also, but right now Mulberry trees are laden with fruit and are absolutely delicious!

Gather up the family this Friday and Saturday evening, have a cookout, catch some lightning bugs and play under the star-filled sky. The moon should be magnificent. I can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening with the people you Love…can you?

“Happy Summer”

Wild Wanderings with Richard Cleveland, teacher of outdoor skills at Earth School in Tryon, NC – a self-trained Naturalist and local fishing and nature guide. For more information and list of programs visit:  www.LoveTheEarth.com



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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