Foraging: Nutritious Sumac Lemonade

Foraging for Nutritious Sumac - use it to make lemonade high in vitamin c

Foraging can be a fun way to add nutrients to your table – for free! Staghorn Sumac is super easy to identify and a cinch to harvest. And it’s just as simple to make a delicious beverage with it, also known as Indian Lemonade. Native Americans also made a cough syrup with Sumac, and gargled with it to ease a sour throat (source).Continue Reading

A Walk in the Woods

I had the pleasant opportunity to take a walk recently along a mountain ridge. The area had many rock formations with dry, shallow soil. Here’s a little of what I saw growing in these harsh conditions. I was reminded that even when life is difficult, or my spirit is dry, God surprises me with beauty.

Wood Strawberry - related to the Wild Strawberry but has a yellow flower; the berry is not as sweet as the Wild Strawberry.

Appalachian Sandwort - this plant is only found in a few of Pennsylvania's counties and is considered endangered here.

Low-bush Blueberry - it will be a few more weeks before the berries are ripe and sweet.

Greenbrier - this prickly, woody vine provides cover for small wildlife.

Greenbrier Thorns - when these plants form a thicket, they are difficult to pass through.

One of the many lichens on the mountain.

A few more types of lichen growing on rocks. A lichen is a composite of fungus and algae.

Sweet Fern - named for its aromatic leaves. Sweet Fern is nitrogen fixing allowing it to grow in infertile soil.

Wild Rosa Rogusa - a beautiful surprise among the rocks.

Since this wasn't in bloom, I'm unsure if it's Solomon's Seal, or False Solomon's Seal. The plants are closely related.

Hickory Nuts - I think. Do Hickory Nuts trees have catkins?

Can you help? I'm inclined to say this is Wild Radish.

Morning Gift

early morning on the dock

promise of a beautiful day

breakfast shared with the bluegill

into the canoe, still in pjs

eagle soaring overhead

oriole and kingbird flitting by the shore

mountain laurel in full bloom

dragon flies darting by

downy cattail dispersing its seed

paddling hard against the wind

face warmed by the Son

ready to start a new day

Shared at Magical Monday

Ramps, or Wild Leeks

Walking along a bubbling brook yesterday, I stumbled upon a lovely patch of ramps. Also known as wild leeks, ramps are native to the Appalachian mountain region in North America. The perennial is found in deciduous forests in the spring. The bulb has a lovely onion-garlic taste and is delicious raw, or lightly sauteed. It can also be used in recipes which call for leeks, or as a substitute for onions.Continue Reading

Winter Urns

Have you ever been asked to take on a task that you very much wanted to do, but which also made you a bit nervous? I recently had the opportunity to decorate three urns for the outside of our church building. I am a vegetable gardener. That qualifies me, right? My only previous experience working with evergreens is making a yearly Christmas wreath to hang on our chimney.

The church did not have urns, so part of my responsibility was shopping for them. The selection is limited this time of year, but I did manage to find three matching urns. I also purchased plastic pots to use as inserts. I reasoned that it would be easier to work with a smaller pot and then just place those into the urns when completed. Mike added rope handles to make lifting so much easier. I filled each of these with sand to hold the evergreens in place.

The weather has been beautiful and Mike and I had a wonderful time in the woods collecting evergreen branches, pine cones, and mountain laurel twigs. I also used some store bought white branches and red berries to add some color. I first built a “skirt” of branches at the edge of the pot, then added the white branches to give the arrangement some height. I filled in between with mountain laurel and more greens. I then attached pine cones to sticks with wire and used these to add some accent. I did the same with the purchased red berries.

I delight in God’s creation, and my hope is that the display will reflect what He has created. Hopefully, the aroma of fresh greens will refresh those in our congregation as they enter the building to worship Him!