To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Devil's Soup Bowl

Seems I've had my hiking boots on alot lately and I've found myself deep in the woods every week. I'm loving it. This time I went with a couple friends because it's nice to share the woods with friends, right? It's so peaceful to solo hike, but I also like having companions along to chat with about what we're seeing. I think my different hiking companions all know that if I drop behind on the trail I'm most likely taking pictures and what beautiful pictures there are out in the woods. Oh my!
So much Dogwood in bloom. Both K and M have hiked the AT and M mentioned today that she kept thinking she was seeing a shelter out of the corner of her eye, but it always ended up being a Dogwood Tree. Apparently, the shelters are silver on the AT.
I don't know if these are Cinnamon or Interrupted Ferns. I think they're Interrupted, but I know they're not Ostrich so we didn't pick any for eating.
What is this? I'm guessing a dried up flower from the Skunk Weed, but I'm not positive. Oh, and we found a snake just a few steps after this. Well, Dunnie found the snake.
Beautiful reflections in the water. It was quite swampy but Yankee Springs Rec Area has lovely board walks so you don't get your feet wet. I could have stopped at the board walk and spent the rest of my day exploring just what was close by, though I would have missed some more amazing things as we hiked further along the trail.
Thick Stalked False Morel. There are only a few deadly poisonous mushrooms, but this one will surely make you sick. Did I mention I picked Oyster Mushrooms a couple weeks ago and made a delicious Wild Rice and Mushroom soup? Mmmm...
My lovely hiking companions. And Dunnie.
Wild garlic. These lovelies were picked and brought home to be used in Mango Salsa. Oh, it was so good.
Aren't they pretty? If you eat them in the field you'll notice they are very sweet and have a bit of garlicky kick afterwards. Ha, just clean the dirt off first. For a disclaimer, be positive you know what you're eating if you forage in the wild. Just, be careful.
We started at the campground, picked up Sassafras Trail to Long Lake Trail, touched on Hall Lake Trail and out to the Devil's Soup Bowl. By the time we arrived back to the car we had hiked 10.3 miles. Nice!
I hiked here years ago and got seriously turned around because of the lack of trail markers. In fact, I've warned people away from here because of the poor trail mark, but I found that's not the case anymore. With the addition of all these beautiful trail markers you would have to work real hard to get lost. Go. You'll be happy for the time spent in the woods. But bring your bug dope. I suspect the mosquitoes will be vicious in a few weeks.

One of my goals a couple years ago was to learn how to forage for edibles, but the only things I knew how to positively identify were blueberries, blackberries and wintergreen. I bought a couple books and very quickly became overwhelmed with the different items to look for. I realize I know much more about wild plants now (though I still have much to learn) and the way I learned was by taking pictures of plants while on my hikes and researching them once I got home. I still don't know as much as I would like about the edibles, but in researching plants I have been lucky enough to find some that were edible. ~grins~ My favorite 'ah ha' moment was when I learned what Elderberry plants, flowers and fruit look like. I distinctly remember saying, "so that's what it is." And you know what? They are everywhere I hike and bike. Sweet!

It's the weekend again and I must go don the boots for another adventure. See you Monday.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I've been playing with the camera, and reflections, and kids, and critters.
It's been fun.

Sometimes you just have to put it out there with a minimum of words and let the pictures tell the story.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Miss M...Again

I love this girl! I rescued her over the weekend from having to hang with her brothers while they played football with the college guys. She would have gone to CMU with Mom and her brothers, she would have been a sport about it, but when I whispered in her ear that she could also come home with me Friday night, she about fell off her chair with delight. I mean really, who wouldn't want to hang with me?

Saturday gave us a beautiful day to play and it seems we packed it full without feeling especially busy. We made fruit smoothies for breakfast because "we always have to cook something" and then wandered into the craft room. I worked on a journal page while she practiced a new technique for making flowers for her scrapbook. Had we not had other plans for the day she probably would have made a whole garden of flowers.
It's quite simple, really. Stamp a flower image onto colored card stock, highlight some areas with white gel pen and loosely cut around your image when it dries. They're now ready to be pasted into her book.

I'm glad she liked this project because I prefer she learn to make her own embellishments than have her (or mom) go broke purchasing ready-mades from the store. Imagination rules!

I had promised her a few games of bowling at an old 2-story bowling alley near my house, not realizing that she had only bowled once before. lol Wengers didn't have a lane with bumpers open, but she was sure she would be okay without them. Imagine her delight when she got not one, but two spares! And she was jumping up and down cheering for me when I got a strike. I didn't bring my camera along and I'm sort of happy about that. It would have been nice to get pictures, but it was such a joy to experience her delight that I didn't really miss my camera. Sometimes, you just have to 'put the camera down,' right, Alex?

Mid afternoon found us walking several blocks to get ice cream. Aren't the calories free if you have to walk for it? I think so. And just for good measure, we took the long way home through the park, and since we're in the park don't you think we should climb the hills and go exploring in the woods? Ha, we thought so too!
She stopped half way up and breathlessly exclaimed, "these hills are big! My legs are sore." Well, mine would be too if I ran up the hill.

The hills are verrry big. Once at the top you can look out over most of the city. It's one of my favorite things about where I live, having the park with it's hills and woods and creek to explore.
Keep going Sis, you're almost there. She wasn't really. Once you get to the top of this, the path turns to the right and you have more of a climb.
Oh, but look what we found! Jack-In-The-Pulpit. They're only just beginning to bloom but we found a few.
Playing in the May Apples.
All this in one day. How fun is that?