Tag Archives: forest

Weekly Puzzler #154: Spiral Fern

Hello and happy Saturday to you all! Now that summer is officially here, what exciting things do you have planned? Hopefully some outside time is on the agenda. I saw a quote recently, that I thought was great. It read, “Forget the box. Think OUTSIDE.”

Check out our next puzzler– my all-time favorite fern. It is especially lovely after a rain when the water sits on the top of each delicate leaf. Have you seen this in a forest near you? Do you know the name of it?


Here is a video of a patch of it beside a stream. If you want to guess, use the comment box below. This is the first puzzler of our new quarter! I give away prizes four times each year–on the first day of each season. Congratulations to Arden for being our first-day-of-summer winner! Arden will get a sampler pack of my greeting card collection called Beauty is Everywhere. If YOU want to win, you must guess! All correct responses will be entered in the drawing.

Have a lovely weekend! See you again soon.

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Weekly Puzzler #101: Mysterious “Ball” on the Forest Floor

Hello and happy weekend! Is it snowing by you? Or has spring arrived?

Check out these two photos below of this mysterious “ball” that I saw on the forest floor. It was hollow inside. Do you know what they are? If you want to give a guess, just use the comment box below. I hope to hear from you soon! And don’t forget–if your guess is correct you will be eligible to win a prize on the first day of spring! Good luck!101-4458


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Weekly Puzzler #98

Have you been out in the woods lately? If you’re dressed properly, winter is a great time for hiking–sometimes you can have the trails all to yourself! Maybe you’ve noticed the beech trees, with their leaves still clinging to the branches, even though it IS the middle of winter! Why do the beech trees (and oak trees) sometimes have leaves well into winter? Why don’t they lose their leaves like all of the other deciduous trees? That’s this week’s puzzler! CLICK HERE  to learn if your guess was correct.


Why do the beech trees still have leaves on them?

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #93

sycamore -4047Have you ever had the misfortune of touching a vine in the woods that looked like this and then later, getting an itchy rash? That’s because this vine is POISON IVY! So even in the winter when the plant doesn’t even have leaves, you can still get poison ivy–an itchy rash caused by an oil in the plant called Urushiol. These hairy vines can be 6 inches thick and grow up a tree taller than 100 feet!


Two poison ivy vines growing up a tree

Did you know 15% of people are immune to the rash caused by poison ivy? But interestingly, this immunity may not last throughout your life–one day you can be immune, then next you could develop a rash. Also, after touching the plant or vine, it takes 8-24 hours before you develop a rash if you are allergic. The reason for this wide span is because there are a lot of factors that come into play, including how sensitive you are to it, how thick the skin was where you got the oil on you, the amount of oil, etc.

When I was a kid my brothers and I got poison ivy often! Because we spent A LOT of time in the woods and poison ivy was very common. Interestingly, my MOM got poison ivy a lot too (Much to her extreme dismay!)–though she often hadn’t spent any time in the woods! She got it because she did our laundry, touching our clothes that had the oil on them and in doing so, transferring it to her own skin.


Poison ivy growing up a tree

So what do you know about poison ivy? Can you spread the itchy rash from one part of your body to anther or even to another person? If I have poison ivy and I touch your arm, can I pass it on to you? Does touching the liquid oozing from the rash cause the rash to spread? To learn the answers to these and other questions and to see more pictures of Poison Ivy, CLICK HERE to read a post I wrote some years ago.

Here is the next puzzler! Have a fabulous weekend!

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Weekly Puzzler #90

Have you ever been in the woods and seen this:


It is a nice green color and often covers large areas on the forest floor. Even now with the leaves gone from most of the trees and much of the ground plants absent for the winter you can find it–green and looking fresh. Know what it is? Check back next weekend to learn if your guess was correct.


Have a fabulous weekend!

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Quote of the Week #16

path-When I was a child my parents used to hide our entire Easter baskets somewhere around the house, gradually making it harder for my four brothers and I as we got older. In the beginning the basket filled with goodies might be sitting behind the curtains or couch but then later, it was in places like the wood burning stove or among the dozens of coats hanging in the coat closet. At some point even the garage and basement became fair game, further adding to the unspoken dare–Can we find it? I suspect my father thoroughly enjoyed trying to outsmart us and had many laughs at our expense.

I remember the excitement of waking up on Easter morning, knowing we had this challenge waiting for us. Unlike on Christmas morning when we had to wait for the entire family, Easter was different as we could look right away, not needing to have everyone present. And look we did, our secretive selves never letting on when we found one of our siblings’ baskets. We just moved along, pleased to have discovered it, but keeping a poker face about its whereabouts.

Last week I discovered a similar feeling to the one I had as a child looking for my Easter basket–a grown-up kind-of treasure hunt that I am sure many people around the country partake in–with even more secretive poker faces than the ones we wore as children. My partner and I were out on a hike and met a woman who asked if we were looking for morels–a kind of edible mushroom with a reputation for being among the most delicious. We weren’t looking before she asked, but we WERE looking after she passed. Morels, we exclaimed, wouldn’t that be fun? We both knew what they looked like but had never sampled them. They can be found in the spring, late April and into May where we live in Western North Carolina.path-7182

And so our photography hike turned into a hunt for morels, especially when we spotted one alongside a rocky creek below an old railroad bridge. Talk about exciting! We were thrilled and then proceeded to scour the area looking for more and finding just one many minutes later. We stowed our treasure in our sandwich tuperware container and headed home.

We cooked up shallots in a heavy cream sauce, adding the mushrooms and then some baked chicken. With a nice wine and some caramelized green beans, it was a reward much more memorable than a child’s Easter basket. Yum! Talk about delicious!

Now every time we go out we keep our eyes peeled for morels! It is such fun to look for and FIND them. Last week while we were camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park we found a handful, including some very large ones on a steep bank.

path-1000386Have you ever collected and eaten Morels? What recipe do you enjoy with this woodland delicacy? Click HERE for the recipe we used, from Food Network. It might inspire you to go morel hunting too… just be sure you know what you’re doing as that is today’s quote:

“There are old mushroom hunters and their are bold mushroom hunters, but there are NO old, bold mushroom hunters!”

Thankfully morels are a fairly easy mushroom to identify –you can read more about that HERE. Happy day! And happy mushroom hunting!

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