Friday, May 8, 2015

7 Quick Takes - Spring So Far

{Alternatively titled "Hillbillies R Us".   Thank you to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for hosting!}

I can't believe that the last time I wrote one of these Quick Takes, I was talking about eight inches of snow and getting ready to serve up some proverbial groundhog for dinner. Or maybe in your parts, it's called supper? Either way, proverbial because the actual groundhog is a bit too greasy for consumption, or so I've heard. I've never actually eaten one considering I've never actually ever been that hungry. However, my parents did cook one up in their pressure cooker last year after eradicating it from their garden, and they said it wasn't half bad, which to me, probably means it wasn't half good either. No point in letting good meat go to waste, they claimed, unless it is 'possum of course.  Possum just ain't fit to eat. Nasty critters from what I understand. There's a reason they've outlived every mammal species on earth. Greasy as all get out and mean too, if you ever grab one by the tail. And yes, I have. Trust me, you don't want to go there.

Anyhow, this post is supposed to be about spring and not semi-edible varmints. The beauty of spring has arrived in full force in the Appalachians and it is as surreal and lovely as you might imagine.  Our hills are filled with the songs of the returning wood warblers and this past month, God carpeted the forest floor with an endless bouquet of wildflowers. I missed most of the wildflowers last spring since I was spending all my spare time last April unpacking boxes, so it was a joy to be able to get out and re-acquaint myself with old friends from my past such as showy orchis, red trilliums, lady's slippers and mayapples. Someday, I hope to be able to photograph them in a way that does them justice, but even a photograph just can't seem to capture the beauty of a hillside covered in dappled sunlight and a profusion of petals.

Red Trillium

Yellow Trilliums

Showy Orchis

Pink Lady's Slippers


And, as any good mountaineer knows, when the mayapples appear, so do the morels, better known as "dryland fish" in these parts. We did our duty and spent more than one Sunday afternoon walking as a family along rivers and woods roads in search of these elusive mushrooms.  Few secrets are held tighter than the known location of a good mushroom spot. I had kept in mind a few such spots from when I'd found them here a decade ago, but alas, time has a way of changing landscapes and morels are in those spots no more. Or if they are, other hunters have found my secret spots and beat me to them, or maybe the wild turkeys have eaten them all. I must say that one thing I do truly miss about the Missouri Ozarks is the abundance and size of their morel mushroom patches. I seldom got skunked when looking for morels in the Ozarks, but the foothills of the Appalachians are a different story.  I suppose we'll just have to survive on fiddleheads instead.

Mushroom Hunter
Finding morels in the Ozarks -  April 2011

Of course, with spring comes planting time, too. Thanks to the generosity of my father, who agreed to share part of his garden space with us this year, we are trying our hand at a new garden location, this time one with much more sun. We've moved our raised beds and started over with strawberries, broccoli, and a few herbs. Green onions and lettuce are ready to eat and broccoli will be picked next week. Peas aren't too far behind. The potatoes were planted two weeks ago, in accordance with the "signs", and beans should be sprouting any day now. Corn is not yet in the ground, although the "corn bird" (aka wood thrush) arrived three weeks ago, and the oak leaves are much bigger now than a squirrel's ear, so obviously, we are behind on getting our corn seed in the ground.  Maybe next week.  Tomatoes and peppers are still sitting in their starter pots, getting leggier than our son John, and begging to be put in the ground. Meanwhile, the deer are waiting on the sidelines, licking their chops.

Our boys have gone from restless to feral with the nice weather, and I find myself now standing on the front porch saying such things as "get in here and put your shoes/shirt/pants (sometimes all of the above) on!" or "don't you dare go down to that creek!" or "I told you to stay out of that ivy!"  John and I took a trip to a friend's house a couple of weeks ago where he had a big adventure terrorizing their chickens and retrieving the eggs.  After the plethora of plastic Easter eggs we were bombarded with last month, I thought it important that he see where the non-chocolate filled eggs come from. Joah stayed home with his daddy because flightless birds, fragile eggs and Joah do not a good combination make.  Getting our own flock of chickens is on our family's bucket list, somewhere above "get a goat" and below "get honeybees". Honey trumps eggs any day in my book.  Getting a goat is still up for debate.

Preparing to make "coffee".

Pouring the "coffee".
Who needs shoes come spring?

John's coup after Battle of the Free-Range Chickens
(photo courtesy of E. Jones)

Of course, winter around here does not die easily.  We have thus far passed through "Sarvus Winter", "Redbud Winter", "Dogwood Winter" but have yet to succumb to "Blackberry Winter".  It has to be close, though, considering our blackberry blossoms are about to burst.  I found it somewhat disconcerting that we were building yet another fire in the wood stove on May 1st this year!  That should be it for the season, but frankly, at this rate, if we are still hauling firewood to the front porch on Memorial Day, I wouldn't be entirely surprised. We did take advantage of the cold snap during Dogwood Winter to cut one last load of firewood but only time will tell if we have enough for the Winter of 2015-2016.  I am not feeling optimistic.  Dang global warming.

So, that's about it for our spring thus far.  As you can probably tell, my blogging has taken not only a backseat, but rather, is precariously perched on the tailgate, held on by not much more than some bailing wire and duck tape.  I have no excuses other than sometimes the spirit moves me to write and sometimes it doesn't.  But I am still here, and if blogging doesn't fall completely off the tailgate as I splash through the knee-deep mud holes of my life, I will be here again.  It's a bumpy ride but I wouldn't feel at home on any other path.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Mayapples!!! Oh, thank you for identifying that for me. The kids and I have been wondering for many springs now. I'll surprise the family with my knowledge on our Mother's Day hike. Assuming it doesn't rain....

    1. Glad I could help! Later in the summer, the mayapple blossom becomes an "apple" but like groundhog and possum, I wouldn't recommend you eat it. Have fun!