Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – 21 March 2010

Well Insectamonarca friends,

Sadie

Sadie listening to robins sing.

  I am out here in the forest again.  Pat and Sandy flew out to San Francisco on Friday and I am staying with Sadie again at the cabin in the woods.  If I wasn’t so busy with writing a DNR Grant Proposal for Citizen-Based Monitoring Project for monarch butterflies, pollinators, insects and native plants and uses for the two Monarch Butterfly Habitats, I would have perhaps had time for a few other projects re: listen to the wind and write more.

Well the woods I love look completely different in March.  Snow is off the ground.  I was so hoping to find a water source but didn’t when I walked the property yesterday and today.  But there is magic here.  Yesterday I discovered a path on the back of the property that would accommodate cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ATVs and snowmobiles.  It isn’t that big, of  trail distance wise, but perfect for quiet sports re: wild plant gathering, animal and bird watching, snowshoeing, walking and cross-country skiing.

Some of you may know from the February posting Eco Adventure in Wisconsin, that I was anxious to find wild plants and herbs.  Boy oh boy! 

clubmoss

Clubmoss growing in woods.

   Today I found several colonies of Club Moss, a medicinal plant used for muscle pain and it is a diuretic.  Of course I had to bring some back to the cabin to place in an alter setting and I made a very tasty tea using the herb.  I love natural medicines.  If I can prove a plant is of value because of use, I can then recommend it.  This is my own trial.  I was so happy to find it that I put down tobacco and thanked the plant for letting me take its life so that I might try it as a medicinal remedy.

The forest also showed me some pussy willows, mushrooms, Indian pipe and a few other spring flowers (not yet blooming).  I can’t locate an herbal book with photos at the cabin till I get back to Shell Lake sometime next week and look at my herb books.

The songs of the old oak leaves and the wind blowing through the oak forest yesterday brought me back to memories of long ago at my father’s farm in Rock City Falls, New York.  I haven’t had this beloved memory for so many years.  How I missed it.  Nothing has filled the void until I found these special woods that I love.  I feel a familiar sense of healing here.  I don’t want to be separated from these glacial moraines that have found me once again.  Can you imagine being separated from your special earth memories for 25 years?

The sun was warm today and I found perfect place on a hill facing south and just lay down and sun bathed in the 50 degree weather. First I put on sunscreen from the white powder of the birch tree.  I heard a calling going on but I don’t know what species it was.  I did scare up a wild turkey yesterday from far in the bramble and small quaking aspen trees.  Could it have been a male and female turkey calling to each other?

I did find last year’s bracken fern so I am hoping we can gather fiddlehead ferns here this year.  What other treasures lay beneath the oak leafed carpeted forest floor?

It was a glorious day.

Be happy insectamonara friends where ever you are.

Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day one by Mary Ellen Ryall

Happy Tonics husband and wife team left today for Costa Rica.  They are staying at Rancho Margot, a self-supporting working ranch in Central America. 

Sadie the corge

Our first walk

 I am staying at their cabin in the woods with Sadie the dog for the next ten days.

Looking out at bird feeders from cabin

Before the storm.

The first thing I notice when I look out the windows is that there are little woodpeckers and chick-a-dees flying to the porch and window boxes.  Then I see the nut-hatch climbing down the tree backwards.  It’s a winter wonderland of little birds.  All of a sudden I am transported into the silence of winter.

A slow cook pot is on.  Within the pot are lentils, organic onions and carrots, potatoes and cabbage.  I added lots of cumin, a medicinal spice used for indigestion and a dash of smart balance for some fat.  A teaspoon of powdered Turkey tail mushroom was added.  It is a medicinal mushroom that has been researched as a  cancer treatment.

After Sadie had her walk and a roll in the fresh snow, we headed back to the cabin for a good brush on the porch.  She is a corgi and in winter Sadie sheds. 

Even with the beauty of winter and being isolated in my retreat setting, there was a sad moment.  Earlier I noticed a sweet little mole in the kitchen.  When I went over to it I saw that it was barely alive.  His little leg was broken.  There appeared to be a few punctures in the little creature’s neck.  I wrapped him up in some cabbage leaves and carried him out to the porch.  I knew the cold temperatures would help end his life more quickly than letting Sadie experiment with her little pet.

When I went out to the porch to check on the little dear, it had already walked on.  I already had my snowshoes on so I gathered oak leaves from the woods and picked him up while I sang him an honor song.  There was a nice wood pile with a sheltered opening and I placed the little mole in a bed of oak leaves.  I put down tobacco leaves to honor his life and to thank him for the gift he was giving me.

He may be preparing me for an experience that will call me into grief at some point.  I felt stronger for knowing that we must all pass through different stages of life and each stage should be honored.

Deer trail through the wooded trail

The road less traveled

  I photographed deer trails that wander along the woodland path.

Blue berries on red stem

Blue berries on red stem.

 I saw blue berries hanging from red stems and cotton soft down covering flower seed that wafts on the wind. 

The sun was setting to the west.  This is a little journal of my days in the woods.  I thought you might enjoy reading about Sadie and my eco adventure in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin.  Talk with you tomorrow afternoon.

Stay happy readers wherever you are.

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