Posts Tagged ‘nature’

support the homestead at seven arrows

June 14, 2012

Last summer, my life was filled with these tiny miracle retreats up in the Catskills. Spending most of my days here in the city, any excursion to expanses of green countryside is welcome and restorative. But what made these trips special was a combination of the company, the work, and the play time. The company: Meg Paska & co. The work: weeding, sowing seeds, harvesting, squishing bugs (okay, maybe that part wasn’t so great). The play: creek wading, strawberry picking, mountain springs seeking, wildcrafting (to me this is play, even though it also benefits my work).

So when Meg told me she’d be setting up a homestead with her man Neil in New Jersey, I started fantasizing about all of the adventures I could have there, too. Of course, this project is so much more than just a good excuse for me to get out of the city. Meg will be creating an educational farm complete with livestock (rabbits, laying hens, goats), beehives, vegetable growing, and mushroom propagation. There will be opportunities for wildcrafting and harvesting from the surrounding woods and waters, too. Nearby swimming beaches, hiking and biking trails are the icing on top. The homestead will be located at Seven Arrows, a yoga retreat center in Locust, NJ. So there’s also yoga and healing retreats, too. This sounds like a place I may visit and never want to leave.

Thing is, in order to realize all of this amazingness, they need our help. The Homestead at Seven Arrows launched a Kickstarter campaign, and it’s an all or nothing affair. The last day to pledge is July 5. They’re just about a quarter of the way to their goal of $20,000. There are some sweet rewards associated with the campaign, aside from knowing your dough will be funding this awesome project.

You can pledge as little as $1 to get your name & web link on their donor page. You can pledge $25 for some lovely pressed wild plants from the area. For $30, you’ll get a Claudia Pearson-designed Buy Local Calendar Towel 24 x 27″ 100% cotton, vibrant illustrations of local vegetables. If you’re rolling in it and really want to splurge, $1,000 will get you a weekend stay at Seven Arrows complete with farm grown meals, morning guided yoga sessions and local libations each night! Plus, you’ll get a care package of veggies, eggs and goat milk! (or a basket of assorted value added goods made from farm produce. And then the top-of-the-line prize is for those with $5K to chip in: a weekend retreat for you and up to 8 friends.

Help make this dreaminess a reality! 

sneak peek at freshkills

September 13, 2011

It may be one of the largest examples of turning trash into treasure. Where there once was (and I guess technically, still is) a landfill is now a sprawling meadow – a nature preserve and soon-to-be recreation area with views of the city skyline. At 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park on Staten Island will be 3 times the size of Central Park. It’s not officially open to the public yet, but once a year the parks department opens the gates for a Sneak Peek. It’s a rare opportunity that should not be missed!

This year, there’s a market component to the event. I’ll be there selling Raganella’s Botanical Solutions: plant-based body care, cleaning solutions, and herbal goodies. The event is free (as is much of the transportation, see below). There will be kayaking, hiking, walking tours, workshops, food trucks, and so much more. Oh, yes, and if you have any electronics that need disposing, there’ll be an e-waste drop-off in the parking lot. The details…

Sneak Peek at Freshkills Park

Sunday, October 2, 2011
11am to 4pm

FREE

How to get there (more info at nyc.gov/sneakpeak):

FREE WATER TAXI SERVICE and FREE SHUTTLE BUSES will operate regularly between the St. George Ferry Terminal and the event site.

BY PUBLIC TRANSIT Take S62 Bus to Victory Blvd and Glen St. Walk down Beresford Ave to Wild Ave.

BY BIKE Enter at the corner of Wild Ave and West Shore Expressway East Service Rd.

BY CAR Parking is available at Wild and Beresford Aves, near the Victory Blvd Exit of the West Shore Expressway and south of the Showplace Entertainment Center.

 

Pssst… Here’s a video I posted a couple of years ago when the park just began being developed.

a weed is a plant out of place

June 15, 2011

Jewelweed, ally against poison ivy.

I love city life. I can step out of my apartment building door and arrive at just about any place I please in as little as 5 minutes, without getting in a car and even without mass transit. For example, there’s a good bodega on my corner with some decent organic products. There’s a delicious ice cream shop about 5o paces away that sells ice cream made from dairy that comes from pasture-raised cows. Up the hill is a museum, and the botanic gardens. And just 2 blocks away is my urban refuge – Prospect Park. I spend much of my time there foraging, wildcrafting tenacious “exotic invasives” (aka, weeds), or just staring at the open sky. But despite all of these spoils, I still long for more. More green, more wilds, more open space.

There’s nothing as restorative as a visit to the country. Just a few miles north of the city there’s this place most city folk call “Upstate” (there’s also the westward land, like rural New Jersey where I’m from). Though real upstate probably doesn’t start technically until you reach the Catskills. And that’s where I found myself last week, and just south of there the weekend before.

wild weed plant ID field trip with Peeka Trenkle

At the end of winter I completed an herbal medicine course with Peeka Trenkle. At that time, very little was growing to ID, so we had to wait for the plants to emerge to have a worthwhile field trip. So Saturday before last, we went traipsing through the woods and fields of Stone Mountain Farm in New Paltz. I’ve been on several plant ID walks, all inspiring and fruitful, and this was no exception. Of the plants I could readily identify there was: plantain (Plantago major & Plantago lanceolata), sassafras, wild geranium/cranesbill (Geranium maculatum), Jack-in-the-pulpit, cleavers (Gallium aparine), jewelweed (Impatiens), burdock (Arctium lappa), violet, Japanese knotweed, mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris – one of my favorites), curly/yellow dock, wild cherry, wild raspberry (Rubus idaeus), viburnum, goldenrod (Solidago sp), red clover (Trifolium pratense), juniper, oak, white pine, wild rose, buttercup, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), and willow. I was grateful to meet some other plant allies which I hadn’t seen growing in person: wild angelica (Angelica atropurpurea), potentilla, greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), monarda, chicory, yellow sweet clover, milkweed, motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) elder (Sambucus nigra), horsetail (Equisetum arvense), and lesser stitchwort (Stellaria graminea).

Some of the allies we encountered, plus some of their benefits…

Lesser stitchwort, so named for its ability to relieve a “stitch” or cramp in one’s side.

Elder, before blossoming. Elder protects us from viruses like cold and flu. I’ve heard her berries also make a good wine.

Motherwort, ally during times of anxiety.

Horsetail, the great re-mineralizer, ally for strengthening bones and teeth.

 

farm stay at Newton Farm Cooperative

In the tiny hamlet of West Kill lies a beautifully diverse place called Newton Farm Cooperative. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who’s part of this cooperative, farming the land part time. During the short time we spent there, we created long days full of small adventures. Weeding, sowing, watering, weeding. (What is a weed but a plant out of place?) I arose earlier than usual with the sun shining in the large window next to my bed, the dewy meadow calling me to explore. Barefoot, I wandered, inspecting weeds that I’d later craft into medicines, transfixed by tiny insects, distracted by red wing blackbird calls and the whooshing wing beats of barn swallows. The two resident roosters and mess of hens completed the symphony of bucolic sounds.

My morning view.

Weedin’ and hoein’.

Barn swallow nest.

Dewy daisy.

Yarrow.

We ate well, harvesting a little bit of radish and lettuce from the farm beds, adding in some weeds – wild thyme and wood sorrel – as seasoning. Dinner was al fresco, by fireside (Meg is a skilled firestarter). Once it truly got dark – something that doesn’t happen in the city, unless there’s a blackout – we could see the stars. I saw a meteor fall (a shooting star) and we watched satellites blink across the sky. And then the fireflies came out, fervently flashing to find their mates.

We harvested gallons of spring water from a roadside spot in Hunter (Justin did the heavy lifting), and went strawberry picking at Greig Farm in Red Hook (Meg picked the reddest berries, and not surprisingly harvested the quickest). On the way back to the farm we dropped into the Mountain Brook Inn for a drink and chat with Lyndon, resident of the area for 28 years. He was full of useful tips for enjoying the area.

Just a few strawberries and a couple of drops of mountain fresh spring water.

Red clover. I harvested some and left much for the bees.

Lovely lettuce.

Flower of Plantago lanceolata.

Something for the bees to build on.

Before we reluctantly left for home, Ron stopped by with his delicious dark chocolate-covered frozen fruit Trop Pops for us to sample. Then Sarah and I walked down to the creek to dip our feet in. Next time, we declared, we’ll come here to sun on the rocks, maybe bring some inner tubes and float around.

In contrast to the plentiful spaciousness around us, the four of us crowded into my jam-packed Prius (which I affectionately call “Turtleboat rollerskate”) full with our bounty of fresh eggs, buckets of strawberries, gallons of Catskill mountain spring water, plus all we brought with us. It was as if we were trying to take back to the city all we could of this country retreat. Taking our time, we savored as much of the countryside as possible before returning to urban life. First, a stop at Grandmere Yvonne’s for her homemade paté, rillette, jams, mustards, and vinegars to take home. I especially enjoyed hearing how the venison paté I was buying was made with a deer that was struck by a car right in front of Yvonne’s home. The cop on the scene butchered the fallen creature, taking half for himself and giving half to Yvonne. Next we scored $1 clothing items at the Tibetan thrift shop in Kingston (the checkout lady says, “this is a dollar, is that alright?”). The last detour was to New Paltz for a picnic lunch of tasty leftovers, afterwards picking up chocolates from The Cheese Plate (where I’d been doing the same thing just the week before after the plant ID trip).

Though our stay was only two and a half days, I returned feeling restored in some deep way. Resting my eyes on the open, living & verdant world versus the cluttered, hard & constructed one in which I live cleared my mind and gave my heart a space to open into. Having just read Stephen Harrod Buhner’s The Secret Teachings of Plants gave me a newfound perspective and helped keep me present to the pulse of life around me. I plan on returning to Newton Farm soon.

 

green books campaign review

November 10, 2010

This review is part of the Green Books campaign.Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on “green” books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

For the campaign, I chose Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills by Thomas J. Elpel (Hops Press). This book is printed with 100% soy-based inks on 100% recycled paper, bleached without chlorine.

I have a confession. This book was actually my second choice to review for the Green Books Campaign. But when it arrived and I began to peruse its pages, I’m glad that my first choice (Less Is More, which is being reviewed by everydaytrash) was already taken.

I was pleasantly surprised by the personal approach to the writing of Participating in Nature. The writer takes us on a day’s journey, both literally and metaphorically. We start out at sunrise, awakening our senses to the world around us, all through the writer’s observations. He guides us through his experiences and demonstrates shelter building, fire starting, water collecting, edible plant IDing skills and more. The journey naturally ends with sunset.

Being a city girl with dreams of the wilderness, this book was just the thing to entertain my fantasies of roughing it out in “nature.” The funny thing about that is, as the author points out, nature is all around us, even in urban settings. In fact, it’s a big misconception that we are ever separate from nature. It is easy to forget that we and everything in our lives is of the earth when the material items we’re exposed to daily include technological luxuries like computers, televisions, and refrigerators. Their components are so highly processed that the natural sources from which they’re derived are unrecognizable.

“Our modern lives have become so removed from hand-to-mouth survival that we delude ourselves into thinking resources come from the store rather than from nature. We think of ourselves as separate from nature. We think we can draw lines on a map and separate “wilderness” from “non-wilderness,” but there is only one wilderness, one ecosystem, and we are part of it. Like the deer eating grass, or the robin bringing materials back to build a nest, we all must use the resources of the earth for survival. This is true whether we live in an apartment building in the city, or in a wickiup in the woods.”

He goes on to drive home the paradox of our being a part of nature while simultaneously being seen as its destroyer.

“We are similarly admonished for consuming resources at home. We learn that we negatively impact the world from the moment we get up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night. We cause harm every time we drive, or go to work, or entertain ourselves. We learn that we are destroying the planet, and we are told to “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” to slow down the pace of destruction. It may be true that we are destroying the planet, and certainly there is nothing wrong with reducing, reusing, and recycling, but there is something wrong with an ideology that tells us on the one hand that we are part of nature – and on the other hand that we are the bad part! The best we can ever achieve is to be less bad.”

This is where I smiled to myself and was reminded of my permaculture studies. The author touches on several concepts which I learned from permaculture, especially the notion that “attitude matters.” This is further brought to light in the second chapter titled, “Mind.”

“Reality is ordered by our perception of it.”

There is a humility in the tone of the writing in what is essentially a primitive living skills guidebook. Although it is clear the author knows his stuff, there is no air of superiority in this knowledge. He makes it clear that he is continually learning and is sure to let the reader know of certain shortcomings of the guide. Specifically, he attempts to make the guide applicable to most regions of the United States, but only to a point. His most direct experiences are in Montana and he reminds us this when necessary. And although this is the case, I think people in all regions can benefit from this introduction to primitive living skills. The instructions are fairly clear, though of course not as clear as learning from a video or in person. In between the demonstrations, the chapters are peppered with narrative and first-person accounts of interactions with plants, animals, and the elements of nature.

Aside from the entertainment value of the insightful stories the author tells, Participating in Nature serves as a great introduction to survival and primitive living skills. There may be other guides out there that are more definitive (though I haven’t met them yet). But the book satisfied the initial curiosity I had for certain skills like building primitive shelters with on site materials, making cordage from natural fibers, and butchering a roadkill deer. I would love someday to be able to attend a wilderness school to learn firsthand some of the other skills covered in this book such as making a bowdrill and starting a fire with it, creating shelter with a hot coal bed, and fishing by hand. Perhaps I’ll even get a chance to attend the author’s school, Green University. I’m going to try felting wool on my own, based on the instructions in the book.

And speaking of wool… Since the first time I went wilderness camping in high school, I was taught that cotton is the “death cloth” (in camping circumstances that is). So I was surprised to read that the author wears cotton sweatpants and sweatshirts while out in the wild. He does wear layers and insulates the sweatpants with found natural materials like grasses, but what happens when the cotton gets wet? Cotton does not wick away water like wool does, so it stays wet and cold, contributing to hypothermia in some cases. Perhaps the insulating grass provides this wicking barrier. Or maybe the cotton phenomenon is exclusive to the Northeast where we have consistent precipitation throughout the year (unlike Montana). This was one of my only gripes or “huh?” moments while reading the book. The other pertains to the images in the book which were sometimes hard to decipher. They are in black and white and in many cases there is little contrast, making it hard to see what is being demonstrated. Color photos would vastly improve this guide.

These small criticisms aside, I truly enjoyed Participating in Nature. What I respect most about this guide is that it’s based on the direct experiences of the author. It is not a distillation of other guide books, it is not all theory or hearsay. Thomas J. Elpel lived these tales, and continues to teach us the skills he accrues as he learns them. This is evidenced by the number of editions he has put out – this is the sixth edition of the book since 1992. The author has the freedom to revise his books this frequently because he also runs the press that prints it. Learn more about the author, his school, and printing press at his website.

Do you have the urge to learn more about the world around you? Do you want to learn how to survive in the wilderness?

raganella’s adventures in nyc

October 19, 2010

When I’m not working on my next workshop idea or helping clients choose (or make) healthier household products, I’m off in the wild. The wild of the city that is. Recently we (my boyfriend & I) experienced a series of local excursions of note all around the city. There is an urban wilderness to be found out there and I’ll be sharing more of my explorations as I experience them. Stay tuned!

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Inwood Hill Park

This 196.4 acre wild park at the uppermost tip of Manhattan holds the last forest (Oak-Beech-Hickory) of its kind on the island, as well as the last salt marsh.

Out to the river, out to the sea

We were amazed by both the unkemptness (in a good way) of the park, as well as its proximity to the Westside Highway (we had to traverse it twice, both times via tunnel). We heard many uncommon (to our ears) bird calls and upon encountering a couple of birders, learned there were kinglets and black-capped chickadees in our midst. NYC boasts a diversity of wildlife way beyond the grey squirrel (and black & albino varieties) and pigeon. Check out this great article by Robert Sullivan to learn more.

Another thing NYC has that might surprise people is some great foraging finds. We spotted a chicken-of-the-woods from the path and without much hesitation (possibly) broke the park rules by hightailing it up the side of a hill to check it out (and grab enough fungi for 4 meals!).

From the woods we could see the salt marsh below. The marsh meets the Spuyten Duyvil (for the most part, the East River) before it heads out to the Hudson. Sea gulls and other wading birds seemingly lounge about, scooping up crustaceans and fish during low tide.

In the visitor center, one of the rangers showed us a flounder and striped bass that were caught in the marsh the day prior. They also had turtles, snakes, and walking sticks, all native to the area.

Marshy marshy marshy

To get to Inwood Hill Park, take the A to Dyckman St (200 St) or 207th St or the 1 to 207th St (10th Ave) and walk west. You can’t miss it!

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Brooklyn Navy Yard

Open House NY (OHNY) is a free annual event that introduces otherwise closed off parts of NYC to residents and tourists alike. Our first OHNY excursion was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

What was once an active port is now home to artists, fabricators, industrial companies, and film set builders.

After checking out an art exhibit, we wandered around a bit (until we got “caught” by security). It’s a bit like wandering through an abandoned town, albeit a bit more maintained.

on the waterfront


Visiting the Brooklyn Navy Yard seems to be a tricky venture. You can visit during Open House events like we did, or if you’re interested in leasing space, you could probably make an appointment to get inside. Otherwise, you can stand outside the gate, staring in longingly. To the south of the visitor’s gates, you can get a glimpse of the decaying old Officer’s Row residences in the yard. A great way to see how nature takes over when we don’t interfere. Directions to the Navy Yard.

Noshing nearby: If you’re peckish and up for a little walk, check out Vinegar Hill House. Delicious!

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Newtown Creek Digester Eggs

After eating a tasty and fitting omelet breakfast at Williamsburg’s Egg, we hightailed it to the Newtown Creek’s digester eggs.

From digesting eggs to digester eggs

If you’ve ever looked across the East River to Brooklyn from the midtown Manhattan side (east), then you’ve seen the giant silver orbs that are the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment facility’s anaerobic digester “eggs.” I didn’t really think of them as beautiful until I got upclose & personal with the eggs at a recent tour (another OHNY event). We actually got to go to the top of the shiny lovelies to learn more about their function from one of the employees.

Here are a few fun facts about the facility & eggs:

  • Each egg (there are 8 of them) weighs 33 million lbs. They were manufactured in Texas, shipped to New Jersey, and piece-by-piece transported over the George Washington Bridge over 4.5 months. The eggs were assembled on site as they received each piece
  • The eggs utilize anaerobic bacteria to digest sewage. Three million cubic feet of methane is one of the byproducts of this anaerobic process. Only 20% of this methane is used to heat the plant. The rest is currently burned off (in carbon filtered cylinders). The facility is in talks with National Grid to channel this methane back into the grid. (Keep your fingers crossed!)

Methane release

  • The facility currently handles 240 million gallons of wastewater per dry day, 500 million gallons on a wet day, and when the facility is fully complete, it will handle 700 million gallons per day at its max
  • Wastewater enters the facility at 150 parts per million of pollutants and leaves at 15 to 20 ppm, an 85% reduction in pollutants (which apparently exceeds the EPA standard)

To learn more about what happens to the water that we flush down the toilet, sink, or shower, check out this fact sheet about wastewater treatment in NYC.

The view from the top

To get to Newtown Creek visitor center – which is open to school groups on Tuesdays & Thursdays and the general public on Fridays & Saturdays – take the G train to Greenpoint Ave. Use the Greenpoint/Manhattan Ave exit. Walk along Greenpoint Avenue one long block east and cross McGuinness Blvd. Continue on Greenpoint Ave to the next traffic light and cross Provost. The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant will be on your left. Follow the fence-line and continue walking until you reach the main gate to the plant, at a traffic light on Humboldt St.

I also highly recommend the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, which runs along the East River and includes native plantings and insightful sculpture work.

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Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood has been on my list of places to visit for a while. And on this past super-sunny Sunday, away we went to the famed cemetery. We walked from our apartment (stopping for brunch at the yummy Thistle Hill Tavern on the way) to the gates at 25th St & 5th Ave (a 2.5 mile walk).

The light was intense & dreamy as we made our way around the windy pathways, stopping to admire the graves of people like Louis Comfort Tiffany & William “Boss” Tweed.

My favorite grave marker was that of Peter Cooper (of Cooper Union fame). It’s an amazingly thought-out memorial, including all of Mr. Cooper’s achievements, a poem by Joaquin Miller, as well as his wife Sarah Bedell’s epitaph.

Peter Cooper's amazing epitaph

Patriot, philanthropist, sage

Peace on the dim Plutonian shore

Aside from the interred humans of note, there are some stunning tree specimens throughout the 478-acre cemetery. It’s also home to at least one very large hawk, a growing flock of wild parrots, and it’s a stopping-off point for many migrating birds as well.

Persimmon tree

To get to Green-Wood Cemetery, take the R train to 25th St in Brooklyn. Walk east one block to Green-Wood at 5th Ave and 25th St. (There are also entrances at 9th Ave & 20th St and on Fort Hamilton Ave, though not as grand as the main entrance.)

Watch this space for more city-centric adventures!

Einstein says…

December 8, 2009

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”

~Albert Einstein

glacier-park

Genius! When was the last time you gazed longingly into nature’s lovely peepers?

obituaries inspire me

December 7, 2009

Reading the Times this morning, I came across two headlines that grabbed my attention. They were both titles of obituaries, summing up a man’s life in four words. To have seemingly led such a focused life, dedicated to a specific environmental cause, intrigues me – a broad generalist. I also feel a mix of emotions for not having heard of these men before their respective deaths. A twinge of sadness, yes, but also a feeling of gratefulness that they graced this earth, leaving a positive impression on it. An impression strong enough to compel the web editor of The New York Times to publish it on the homepage.

Clarence Petty, Protector of the Adirondacks, dies at 104

0209cpetty1

It wasn’t his age that caught my eye (thought that number is quite impressive, no?). I have fond memories of hiking in the Adirondacks as a high school student, and have recently had the longing to feel those mountains under my feet again. I now know I can thank this man for securing the place for my return visit.

“If things go bad and everything seems to go wrong, the best place to go is right into the remote wilderness, and everything’s in balance there.”

~Clarence Petty

Read about Clarence Petty, how he was commissioned to survey the Adirondack park, how he was integral in protecting millions of acres of land, and how he attracted opposition.

Learn more about Clarence Petty on this dedication page on the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC-NY) site.

Malcolm Wells, Champion of ‘Gentle Architecture,’ dies at 83

whatisuga

After recently completing permaculture certification, I’m hyper aware of things like natural building, passive solar design, and earth-friendly structures (like this ‘hobbit home’ I tweeted about last week). As soon as I saw ‘gentle architecture’ in this obit synopsis, I immediately knew what Mr. Wells spent his life championing. He inspired the likes of William McDonough, who called him a ‘hidden jewel.’

“In the world of what has become known as green building,” Mr. McDonough added, “Malcolm Wells was seminal, actually inspirational, for some people, me included.”

Read more about Malcolm Wells, how he designed the RCA pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair, and how that led him down the path to create gentle architecture.

Visit MalcolmWells.com where you can read his autobiographic obituary.

[image 1 credit; image 2 credit]

foraging find!

November 23, 2009

This past Saturday I had a lovely afternoon of foraging in Prospect Park with friends Leda, Meredith, and Liza. We spent most of the expedition picking garlic mustard and bishop’s elder, and digging up field garlic. But then eagle-eye Meredith spotted the mother lode – oyster mushrooms!

oyster-mushroom

If I had to guess, I’d say it was about 5 pounds (or more) and I had to use my trowel to divvy it up. Each share was at least enough for a dinner for two. It was the first time I’d ever found an edible mushroom – I usually buy them (for a pretty penny) at the farmer’s market.

mountains, moose, and more mountains

September 14, 2009

Deep breath in… and out. The smell of pine and sagebrush. The feeling of rock and dirt beneath my boots. Sharp mountain peaks, bright midday sun, glimmering glacial lakes. And the sounds: call of the magpie, chirping of chipmunks, gurgling and whooshing of mountain streams, crackling of moose footsteps. This is the experience of a national park. I am grateful to those who had the foresight to preserve these places. I am thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to visit them.

Here’s some of what I saw on the latest trip – to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

of course, there are the mountains


Didn’t realize at the time that this was about where Ansel Adams snapped a famous photo, I think he was a bit further upstream.


A forest fire burns at the base of Mount Moran. Fires are most often started by lightning and are closely monitored while they are left to burn. They are beneficial to many plants, such as lodgepole pine.


Mount Moran has a distinctive geologic feature — a basalt (molten rock) intrusion.


Cascade Canyon Trail, an 11-mile hike (or 9 if you take the boat across Jenny Lake both ways, 13 if you skip the boat altogether) with breathtaking views.


Glacial till from the last ice age. We looked for marmots among the rocks, but they happen to be hibernating already.


Part of the park’s “sustainable” menu: elk/bison burgers at Jackson Lake Lodge. They were delicious, and so was the view.


This view inspired JD Rockefeller, Jr. to preserve this place as part of the national park.

families of fauna


Mama and baby moose (called cow and calf, respectively), on the appropriately named Moose-Wilson Road.


Papa moose (or bull), seen on the Cascade Canyon trail.


An elk bull and his harem.


One of 5 or 6 bald eagles we encountered on the trip. They like to hang out by waterways, like the Snake River.


A “least” chipmunk. Tiny and adorable.

pollinators aplenty, and maybe some pests


Butterflies abound.


Bees, too.


This may or may not be an Asian longhorn beetle. If it is, I’m sorry I didn’t report the little bugger (I didn’t know they frequented these parts). I was too busy trying to get this shot as he was perched on my shoulder.

lovely flora


Leafy spurge, I think. One of the wanted weeds.


Thistle or spotted knapweed?


This one’s not a weed, it’s a columbine.


Sagebrush bathed in sun.

adventure!


Hot air balloons launched right near where we are staying (Teton Village).


If we were staying one more day, I think I might have wanted to try paragliding. We watched this guy take off from Rendezvous Mountain.


Weeeeeee!!

off to the wilds of wyoming

September 5, 2009


Bison in Yellowstone, the Tetons neighbor to the North.

Howdy y’all!

I’m off to wrassle some dogies out in the wilds of Wyomin’. Well, okay, not really, but a girl can pretend a little, no?

In reality we are heading to Grand Teton National Park and the Jackson Hole area for some fresh air, nature loving, hiking, rafting, and horseback riding. A lot to fit into a 4-day itinerary! I’ll be back in a week to report on all of our adventures.

Happy Labor Day and enjoy the week!

x L