Tag Archives: spring

One Minute Meditation: Spring Rains Fill Stream

Have you been too busy to get outside and see what’s going on? Do you need a minute just to relax and do nothing? I thought I would do some one minute meditations, starting today, with this video I made recently in my backyard here in western North Carolina. Come join me for a short walk!

As you watch, imagine yourself walking along a small stream in the forest. It is early spring, with just a few ephemerals poking out of the ground. The sky is cloud-filled, the temperature cool. All you can hear as you move along is the sound of falling water. It relaxes you, makes you feel calm and unhurried.





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Weekly Puzzler Answer #143

The leaves are edible

The leaves are edible

So last week’s puzzler was a video, showing a lot of one plant on a bank beside a stream. Were you able to recognize it?

Here’s a clue… perhaps you’ve eaten it! Those plants are RAMPS, an edible plant that has a mild, garlicky flavor that is highly prized among those who collect wild edibles.  Both the green leaves and bulbs are edible. Ramps, also called wild leeks, are native to the forests of eastern North America. As you can see from the video, they are one of the first plants to burst out of the soil in spring, filling the otherwise drab woods with glorious green. They will not last long, turning yellow long before the trees get their first leaves.

They do not last long!

They do not last long!

Have you tried them? Here are a few recipes if you find some in a forest near you.

Rampy Ramp Risotto

Grilled Ramps

Asparagus and Ramp soup with yogurt

and finally, Loaded Vegetable Spring Quiche

If you Google ramps you will find LOTS more recipes. And one more thing–if you do find a patch of ramps, please don’t harvest them all! It’s best to practice sustainable harvesting so the ramps will continue to grow for many years to come. Here are a few pointers on harvesting ramps:

  1. Never take all the plants in a bunch. At most, take half of the leaves, leaving some of the older ones to grow.
  2. If you’re going to harvest the bulbs, do not use a shovel as this unnecessarily disrupts the soil. Instead, use a small soil fork or trowel with a knife. And just like the leaves, do not take them all. Taking all the bulbs is a sure way to end the profusion of ramps in the future in that spot.
  3. Be careful where you step so as to not stomp down everything in your path on the way to get the ramps.
  4. Make sure you have permission if the land is private. Most homeowners do not appreciate someone coming onto their land and digging something up. And if it is in a national park or state land, know the rules before you pick. Different parks have different rules about edible plants and it’s definitely not always legal.

The New York Times wrote an article about over harvesting ramps a few years ago–in some places it has become a problem and is banned.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about ramps! Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you pick them? Do you like them? Use the comment box below!

Here’s the next puzzler.

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Weekly Puzzler #143: Spring Greens

Wow, it’s been a long time since we’ve done a puzzler! Are you ready for some more?

I was out walking with our dog, Schroeder yesterday and noticed an entire bank beside the stream covered with green. It’s a sure sign that spring has arrived here in western North Carolina! Has it arrived where you live?

I thought I would do a video puzzler, taking you with me to see what I saw…. Do you recognize this plant?

Use the comment box below to give your guess. As always, all correct guesses will be entered in a quarterly drawing. The next drawing will be on the first day of summer. Good luck and hope to hear from you soon.

Have a fabulous weekend!

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It’s Spring…Have You Done This Yet?

feeder2-3360Guess who’s headed north? It’s that time of year again when the ruby-throated hummingbirds are heading back from their long migrations to their northern homes to breed and raise babies. You can check out their progress here to see if they are in your area yet.

Are your feeders out yet? If not, it’s time to put them out! The sooner the better as birds finding feeders on their way might be tempted to stay and nest if they find suitable food sources nearby.

My hummingbird feeders. I have 5!

My hummingbird feeders. I have 5!

Here’s a recommendation I have for a couple of great hummingbird feeders:

  1. My very favorite feeder is a suction cup feeder *that has a built in ant moat. I own two of these and love them! The moat keeps the ants out and the suction cups allow me to have it mounted on my second story office window where I can watch the birds feeding all day long. It is less than 6 feet from my chair so I am at eye level when the birds visit. They don’t usually seemed phased at all by my presence if I sit still. I never tire of watching them, and getting this close-up look is fabulous. If you have young kids, they will love this… or if YOU are a kid yourself, you will love it! (You can see this feeder in action here if you want)
  2. This hanging feeder works great in the garden or on a hook on your deck and you can add an ant moat that sits above the feeder. What I most love about this one is that it comes completely apart for easy cleaning. When it comes to feeders, this is SO IMPORTANT as many do not open and so it is impossible to clean them, which means mold grows and can harm the birds. Another plus of this feeder is that it has no yellow on it. Know why this is good? Because bees, yellow jackets and other insects are attracted to yellow. There is no reason to use yellow when the red parts attract the birds.

So you probably know you can make your own nectar–saving some money and NOT supporting the red dye products that may be harmful to the little birds. Just mix up four parts of water to one part of regular white granulated sugar. You do not need red dye!

Here are some previous posts I wrote about feeding hummingbirds:  If you’re not doing THIS, you may be causing hummingbird deaths: 8 things you need to know, or why you should NOT use red dye, and one more about attracting hummingbirds, including some plants to offer, and the recipe for making nectar. And then, just in case you want to be amazed, read this one about 10 things you may not know about hummingbirds. Or check out this 1 minute video of a male hummingbird–what a brilliant red gorget!

Don’t you just love these amazing birds??

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you buy something using one of the links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. All of the opinions about these products are mine. I only feature products I own, or would own.

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #107

iris-0711 The lovely flower from last week’s puzzler is a dwarf crested iris, Isis cristata. In western North Carolina, it is blooming right now and you can see it at lower elevations in the Smokies. It is found mostly on open slopes, growing 4-6 inches tall. As you can see from the photos below, the color is variable, from a light purple to a rich blue.




Have you seen it? What is your favorite wildflower?

Click HERE for this week’s puzzler.

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Weekly Puzzler #105: Name That Trillium!

If you know anything at all about spring wildflowers, you’ve probably heard of Trillium. These flowers, as their name suggests, have 3 leaves and 3 petals in their flowers. They are common in many places and really spectacular when the entire hillsides are covered in various species of trillium. Have you seen this?

Let’s see if you know your Trilliums! Here are 5 different species. Can you identify them all?


Trillium #1



Trillium #2



Trillium #3



Trillium #4


Trillium #5

Trillium #5

Check back next weekend to learn the correct answers. And don’t forget to use the comment box below to enter your guess–this week is admittedly a hard one, with 5 different ones to know so I will enter your name for any you get right–so up to 5 times! All the correct answers will be entered in a drawing to win a free prize on the first day of summer.

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Quote of the Week #58

cherry--3Do you have an intimate relationship with the natural world? Do you visit a piece of land regularly, noticing the changes that happen over time–the tiny stem bursting out of the ground in the spring or the last leaf falling from a limb in the fall? Do you sit in this place and just listen and look, paying attention to the details that make it unique?

cherry-8099This morning as I sat at my office window before daylight I watched with delight as the eastern sky turned gold and then pink, the wispy clouds painted with color as light filled the wooded hillside. Then later, when the breeze blew, the air was filled with delicate white petals from the cherry tree, floating by in curtains of white, like snowflakes, landing silently on the ground amid the decaying leaves. I considered running downstairs to fetch my camera and try to capture it, but then decided against it. Instead I just watched, mesmerized by the moment of beauty that was as fleeting as the golden light at sunrise. It seemed doubtful I could ever capture it accurately–for so much of its appeal comes from the feelings it evokes, the way it makes me feel in the given moment.

cherry-8143I cherish and nurture my intimacy with the natural world, especially the land surrounding our house in the woods. The changes are often subtle and almost always silent, but for me, it is rewarding to notice them.

Here’s the quote of the week–a long one but one that is very meaningful:


“To look at anything, if you wanted to know that thing, you must look at it long; To look at this green and say, ” I have seen the spring in these woods,” will not do–you must BE the thing you see. You must BE the dark snakes of stems and ferny plumes of leaves, you must enter into the small silences between the leaves, you must take your time and touch the very peace they issue from.”

–John Moffitt

cherry-If you’ve not spent any time outside recently, maybe you can schedule some soon. And one word of advice: do so with no agenda and a clear mind–it doesn’t work to bring your worries with you. Just relax in the moment and do nothing but BE.

cherry-0310Have fun, and do let me know your thoughts on intimacy with the natural world. How do YOU define intimacy with nature? What changes have you noted lately?


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