Thursday, September 27, 2012

Recipe, Venison, Black Bean Chili and Fresh Corn Muffins

A cold nip in the air and darkened skies makes me want a warm bowl of chili.

Black bean and Venison Chili

Brown 1 pound of venison
Peel and cut up 7 medium tomatoes
Chop 2 medium onions
Grate 1 medium zucchini
Finely chop 4 cloves garlic
Add all to the browned venison along with
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-tablespoon black pepper
1-teaspoon salt
1-tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 can black beans, drained
1 small can tomato paste
1-tablespoon brown sugar
Cayenne pepper to taste

Optional- top with tablespoon of sour cream and or cheddar cheece

Fresh Corn Muffins

Grate the corn from three ears of corn to measure 1 cup
1 cup of flour
1 cup of cornmeal
3 teaspoons fast acting baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg well beaten
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter

Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, salt and sugar)
Combine the liquids ( milk, melted butter and beaten egg)
Add the corn kernels to the liquids and mix the dry ingredients in thoroughly. Pour into buttered muffin tins or a shallow baking dish.
Bake at 425 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until puffed and brown on top.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Monarch Butterfly and Caterpillar on Milkweed and Ironweed

It saddens me that all the wayside meadows, hedgerows and edges of weeds
are being eradicated from our landscapes to give into paved roads and sidewalks
with the only natural areas heavily controlled. Where does the wild one have to live?

In the old days there was a tale that it was ill advised to cut down all the wild,
instead you were told to leave a place where the wild could be free because that was
where the fairies lived and what kind of world would we live in where fairies didn't live free? Sigh..... but nobody believes like that anymore and we think we can just cut it all down and remake it like we want it and not let any of the wild back in.

So, we don't let the thistle, burdock, nettle and milkweed grow because they look too weedy and wild. Yet, without them we lose many butterflies and birds that depend on them for survival. I don't think we even know yet what all we might be destroying with our need to change and control without learning first.

Seems we cannot change the world but we decided to change our yard. There are many wild places here, prime fairy habitat. We brought in native weeds and after many tries and failures we finally had milkweed growing in our gardens and one sweet morning I discovered what I believed to be Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars munching down on the milkweed leaves.

 I ran in the house to find my butterfly field-guide books and sure enough it was  future monarchs devouring our milkweed plants. I only had two of the specimens and I thought for sure the three caterpillars, at the rate they were eating, were going to eat the plant all up. They left little brown balls of their poop all over the leaves, rather sloppy fellows (  :

When they slept they hid under the leaves. Then one day I looked all over the plants and under the leaves but they were gone. I looked for them everywhere as I have read in, Anna Botsford Comstock's, Handbook of Nature Study, " The monarch chrysalis is, I maintain, the most beautiful gem in Nature's jewel casket;" I also read that they could crawl up to 20 feet away from their host plant to mutate and try as I might I could not find their well hidden chrysalis.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar 
Monarch Butterfly on the Ironweed in our front yard.

 The caterpillars thankfully did not eat all the milkweed before they disappeared and hid their chryslis from me. Just the other day there were two brand new monarch butterflies drying their wings on the ironweed in the front yard, it must have been them!


 Why couldn't we have kept it this simple?

"Three Sisters

This was called the Three Sisters.

Make a depression in a small dirt hill

Place two or three small fish and drop in corn, bean and squash seeds

The corn provides a trellis for the beans, the squash shades the ground to keep it moist and to keep weeds away. Corn takes nitrogen from the soil, beans put it back"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ohio Rainfall Needed

A bit of rain fell last week but it was not enough to soak the thirsty ground. I water here and there but I cannot sustain all our plants, shrubs and trees. The lilies, tree-peonies, hydrangeas and queen of the meadow (which won’t be a queen of anything if I don’t lug water to her), are all getting my special attention. Not one drop of water goes unappreciated instead even tiny droplets are absorbed into the dry soil immediately. Sometimes I swear it seems the thirsty earth absorbs the water as it falls from my bucket and catches it halfway, like a dog jumping up to catch a treat. 


Without the help of rain plants are bearing fruit too quickly or simply not bearing fruit at all, and merely hanging on for dear life. Our wild black raspberries are drying up before turning ripe or else getting claimed by thirsty birds. I wish it wasn’t true because they are my favorite berries. It is hard to walk through the usually cool and moist woods to find them parched. Leaf litter and moss seem to have dissolved from the forest floor as if consumed for moisture. 


All the little tributary creeks, streams and rivulets are drying up or long dried with only the core waterways still flowing. As we hiked The Ridges at Athens last week, the bare, clay trail beneath our feet resembled dry, cracked skin. Sumac plants, sassafras and buckeye trees were turning their leaves prematurely to autumn colors. It was sad to see browned, barren trees in June. The air in the forest was oppressing and still as if only awaiting death.


From watching nature I have been blessed with her comforting way of explaining the cycles to my heart. I have witnessed how experiencing the weather’s play on the seasons helps me accept such seasons in myself and in my fellow humankind. There is much that could lead me to despair, the drought, the shape of the world, but as we left the dry forest and started to ascend the meadow towards Radar hill, a welcome breeze touched our skin. 


This cooling of the brow seemed to open my mind to remember that there is a reason for all cycles. The Creator who made it all, can refresh it all again. Yes, we should do what we can to make things better, yet I cannot stop the waves of time nor do anything about many of the troubling circumstances that lie all around us. Knowing that there is an ultimate cycle, an ultimate plan, gives me an option. Instead of falling into despair I can trust in Divine Order, do any duties to which I am assigned and most importantly, come to peace.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Moon Diversions

 The sun does the same thing everyday, not so the moon who is always waxing and waning and changing her position. To me the moon is like a young women, as she blooms she is easy enough to find coming up on the eastern horizon behind the barn. Yet, just when she seems to be participating the fullest she suddenly gets shy and withdraws, hides her face and runs behind the barn and disappears!

When she takes these excursions I surmise the moon is introverted, likes to spend time alone. I have learned to let her go, then it is a treat when she decides to pop in and hang around. When she does, I look at her in surprise and exclaim, “Well, hello moon!” I know she has logic, but I cannot follow it.  The moon is waxing now, according to The Farmer's Almanac this is a good time for starting sprouts, transplanting and new beginnings.

 The Bee Keeper and I, when we first started growing gardens, liked the ideas we heard from old timers and read of in gardening books and The Farmer’s Almanac, regarding the folklore and science of planting by the cycles of the moon. We took their advice and tucked root crops in during the dark of the moon and sowed seedlings when the moon was waxing. After awhile though, I got tired of trying to keep track of the ever elusive moon so I surmised that when the right time came to do something the moon would tug at the tides inside of me. Now, I plant when I feel like it. I figure the moon is telling me to do so. My favorite names for the July moon are the Colonial American name for it, Summer Moon, and the Native American Indian word, ( Dakotah Sioux), which means something like, Moon of Middle Summer.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Blue Damselfly

It has been a very dry spring but after a very cooling rain the dust settled down and beautiful blue damselflies that match the fence came out to play.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Eastern Hemlock Forest, Hocking Hills, Ohio

I found a treasure for myself in the sweetest little book, at a yard sale, for 25cents. The title is, Let Nature Be Your Teacher, and it is a dimensional pop -up book filled with lovely, floral, country scenes that rise up at you and song birds that fly about when you turn the pages. My favorite verse in the 'little charm' is Leading, by Mary Carolyn Davies, which starts off with, Forests are made for weary men, That they may find their soul again." and ends with, "Far from the city's craft and fraud, O forest, lead me back to God."
I think Mary and I feel the same about being in the forest.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Tribute to Ronald E. Wells, 1912-2012

He was born the year the Titanic sank, November 20,1912. Women still wore long skirts, funny hats and didn’t yet have the right to vote. Assembly line production of automobiles had begun but many people in the countryside and small towns still traveled by horse and buggy. He told me that he remembered the first Model T rolling into town. One day when we took a country drive he showed me where the house had been that he lived in while a little boy and the trek he took to the schoolhouse that was on a great hill which to a child must have seemed like a mountain. He grew up, married his Flint Ridge sweetheart Ruby Gale Johnson, raised five children and grandfathered 14 grandchildren. I am honored to be one of them.

 He worked for Central Ohio Coal and became a pastor. Grandma and Grandpa touched many lives. Their home was a nest of love, peace and harmony. They reached out not only to their own grandchildren but opened their hearts and arms to many of the children that they interacted with in their neighborhood and churches. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary together with their love only growing richer through it all. Grandpa had many interests in life, aviation, hunting, fishing hiking and writing to name just a few. 

One of Grandpa’s interests was getting out in nature, where he felt close to God. He led his grandchildren through the wild black-raspberry patches outside his and Grandma’s Morgan County home. He took us through the woods on horses to follow old cow paths. We walked beside creeks and rambled down back roads, basking in the enchantment of God’s glories. 

Grandpa liked to go walking. Sometimes we just walked together. Through the years this was our thing to do when we had time together. Sometimes my world and Grandpa’s world were miles apart but every time I got to be near him again I knew I was with a kindred soul. In his later life we took drives towards Blue Rock to an area he called his old stomping grounds. One time while visiting with Grandpa he said, “Trendle, you know how we like to explore nature and all God's beauty on earth? Some day I look forward to exploring outer space, traveling through whole universes and looking down on the earth from the stars." 

I think I said something like, wow Grandpa really? I am not so sure, that sounds kind of scary to me! I am still not so excited about exploring outer space but I might not have been so sure about nature either if Grandpa had not lead the way. I might have grown up unresponsive to or even frightened of nature had it not been for his guidance. I think that perhaps now that Grandpa has gone on before once again, that just as he learned the ways of nature in these Ohio woodlands now he is learning the ways of the stars. Perhaps someday he will lead us through them like he lead us through the woods.  On April 2, 2012, the unseen hand he has been holding onto became visible and Ronald E. Wells, 99 earth years old, went home through what he called the gates of light.

Alone With God
by Ronald E. Wells

Oft I love to wander, yonder 

O’er the hills and smiling stream,

To the top of some high summit,
There to watch and pray and dream.

Just to think of God’s great wonders
That in nature there are seen,
And to be a silent partner
Of the One that’s there unseen.

Just to feel His loving presence,
As it rolls upon my soul,

Just to to know that Jesus loves me

Even though the tempest roll.

Just to know that as I journey
Down this toilsome way of life,
There is One who will not leave me
Till I pass though gates of light.

And methinks as there I ponder,
‘Mongst the flowers and alpine trees,
That I hear the angels whisper
Those sweet songs of Calvary.

And ‘tis then that I am lifted
To the realms of endless day,
And I hear my blessed Savoir
As He points me out the way.

“For I know how thou art tempted,
How the tempter dost thee try,
But my grace is all-sufficent,
Go, and I will be thy guide.”

So I know that when I wander
To those hills so high and still,
That ‘tis God that comes to comfort,
That ‘tis God the tempest stills.

So I’ve found the blessed secret
Of the power of Jesus’ name,
‘Tis to follow in His footsteps,
And to walk alone with Him.

 Grandpa and I, Grandma, the late Ruby Gale Wells, is peeking around Grandpa's shoulder in a photograph.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Medicine for a Weary Soul, A Walk in the Woods

Finally got a chance to walk in the woods last evening.
 It felt divinely wonderful. The sun was going down and the woods were cast in twilight.

Not what one expects to see in the woods, a black cat peered out at us as we walked by. 

A baby oak maple seems to glow in the colors of its new growth. 


Walking the woods is a balm for my soul. 

"A woodland path is good medicine for a weary walker. Soft, rolling steps along the path do not interrupt the harmony of the woods. Even the snort of the doe before she bounds away is to tell her fawn to lie low. Many pauses give time to hear and see in detail the call of a busy titmouse and the high-pitched whistle of the finch. This is Cherokee paradise - to stand quietly in aged timber and be so much a part of it. Even the tiny creek plays water-harps as it winds its way around clumps of dried leaves and slips over round stones that are a part of its past handiwork. This is a green cathedral with shafts of sunlight cutting through thick foliage to turn droplets of water into prisms of color. Nothing is out of place - not even the walker."


Mayapple Trail

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Faith,Hope and Charity, a Plant named Lungwort, Thou art my Life


I had thoughts of limiting my growing instincts this year; maybe letting some of the garden beds go back to lawn. That all changed the day the leaves flushed out on the maples and softened the skylines with a green/yellow mist like a watercolor. In this watercolor the dogwoods wore wreaths of white flowers and danced like graceful ballerinas alongside purple studded red-bud trees. All this beauty prompted me to take a country drive on my way back home from town. 

It seemed like the end to a perfect afternoon when I saw a sign in front of a garden that I have always admired that read, “Free plants, you dig.” I could not resist, I slowed down, stopped and got out. The gardener handed me a shovel. I dug. She is downsizing. I know that she is just a little bit further down the trail than I and for her, sanity has won out. 

I might join her in a year or two but for now insanity still reigns and I will make another go at it. Everything seems possible in the spring, even keeping an acre and a half of garden, weed free. I can do it!
The lady of the garden disappeared before I could ask her any questions. I became puzzled out in her garden and at one point I was trying to decide if a certain plant was a poppy or if I was digging up a slew of plain old thistles. There were lots of lamb’s ears, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, day-lilies, bee balm, yucca and hostas but what I found most interesting was a plant that I didn’t recognize at all. From a distance it seemed the color of bluebells. 

On closer assessment I found that they were not bluebells at all. They are shyer than bluebells and shorter. The entire plant is very hairy. It has splotched leaves and the flowers are enchanting little blossoms of blue, purple, raspberry and pink bells all tolling together in harmony.  I had never seen anything like it. I posted my picture to some gardening friends and sure enough one of them came up with the answer. Lungwort. Pulmonaria.
What a strangely named plant I thought and then spent some time looking up more about it when I was not nestling plants of it into my yard. It did not take too well to being moved and I had to coddle it. It begged to be planted in the shade and drooped if I didn’t keep its feet wet. I found out that this little beauty has other common names that are not so ugly sounding. One name for this little plant is Faith, Hope and Charity in reference to the blend of colors. Many of lungworts local names are biblical names, such as Mary’s Tears, Sage of Bethlehem, Jerusalem Cowslip, Lady Mary’s Tears, In the language of flowers this shy little plant means, Thou art my Life. Thou art my Life, how poetic!


Lungwort Article

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Early Spring

Monday Evening

Right now our apple tree is a maiden.
 An Apple Tree in Full Bloom has to be one of the most beautiful things in the world.
 I cannot look at those blossoms and not thank The Creator. 

In 2007 we had a spring that came early. 
Winter was jealous. She turned around and came back. 
In one swath of rage she swiped all that spring had done away.
It was like Cinderella's step sisters ripping up her dress. 
Remember there were no peaches that summer in all of southeastern Ohio.
 The Orchards had signs up; closed.

The spring of 2012 rushed in faster than 2007, I do believe?!
 Everything is open, blooming, the yard is a pardise of flowers. 
Tonight a frost threatens. I go out to gaze again on apple blossoms. 
I cry. I beseech.

Tuesday Morning

Springs delicate beauty survived Winter's brush of cold! 
According to the handy guidelines Farmer Bill supplied, 27 could have killed most 
and it only got to 29! No black blossoms this morning on the apple tree ! Yeepieeeeee!

I did sadly come upon the Rhododendron who seems to have been overtaken. 
There were some black leaves on the blackberry brambles and I noticed on my way into town that the pink magnolia blossoms are browned. 

Three Snows After the Forsythia Blooms


 "Three snows after the forsythia blooms." As much as I love folklore I DO hope this line is wrong this year. Already not only the forsythia blooms, the peach, the apple, the red-bud and so much else blooms too. We got our first mosquitoes and a tick too! 

The gas line fellows tousled up my front yard today. Sigh... I try not to worry about it but when one of them came to tell me what they were going to do, at the end he said they would make it all good, by spreading grass seed over it all and mulch, (straw). I asked him if they could just not spread the grass seed or the straw. He said, "that is just our procedure Mam, that is how we do it." I wanted to ask him if he had a mind of his own and what was so hard about not spreading the seed? But I just didn't. LOL When they are done making their mess I will go collect the straw and put it to better use mulching the strawberries and I will rake out the grass seed. They have no idea that I don't like grass in my cottage garden. They will just shake their heads over the crazy old women.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


We are having an unusually beautiful day. Even if spring is not supposed to be here quite so boldly I cannot help but want to participate in her joyous abandon, daffodils, crocus, coo of the doves, twitter of the red-wing blackbird, green of the grass, trees in bloom. I only hope it does not mean that the fruit will get frozen in bud. Sigh.... eager spring, she is here today I have to go out with her and play!

Friday, March 2, 2012

March, the Bearer of Spring

Whoa, it is March. Spring is here!

Already the maple syrup tapping is over and the tree buds
have turned to blooming. The Grackle birds and their
accompanying band of roaming groupies,
(starlings, blackbirds, cowbirds) are having their spring concerts
all over the countryside and town, wherever there is a
tree big enough to host them.

Often people complain about these gangs
but I enjoy their visits.
They fill the air with disjointed squawking,
which some compare to the sound of a million squeaky gates.
I think they resemble the way a roomful of people all talking
at once and nobody listening sounds.

I like the Grackles, they are intelligent
and somehow through all that noise they really are
listening to each other because they all get up at once,
and fly away.


 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Grackle in Maple Tree Blossoms~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have been busy out-of-doors every chance I get
breaking down last year’s flower stems. I like to
leave them up in the winter to see their forms holding snow
but when bright green shoots began appearing at their feet
it is time for the dried flower stalks of last season to go.

Everyone is half afraid because it seems as if we tricked winter,
she never really came and now she goes away.
We are not quite sure if she will turn around,
come in the back door and dump us with a foot of snow.

She has been known to do this. Yet, it seems spring has been
stepping in with a sure tread, her footprints are everywhere.


I cheated and bought the primroses at the grocery store
but you cannot blame me, they were only .99 a pot
and even the pots are beautiful, bright yellow and lime green.
In front of the urn that holds the primroses
daffodils are blushing from green to yellow and the purple
crocus flowers look as if they are dressed in threads of gossamer.