Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day seven

It is Thursday. 

Wake me up!  I didn’t realize it was December 24 until five minutes ago and it is 2:31 p.m. in the afternoon.  Days just slip by when you are on retreat in the Great North Woods.

I woke up feeling lethargic.  We are in the middle of a big snow storm.  It has been snowing all day and perhaps last night also.  Snow fall was over my boots this morning and about covered Sadie when we were outside.  I did put out bird seed this morning.

Squirrels eating sunflower seeds

Squirrels eating sunflower seeds.

  The squirrels were totally covered in the snow with only their faces peeking through and their faces were white.  Still they came for the sunflower seed.  It looks like 12 inches so far.  The weather report says it could go to 16″.  No snow plow has come through to plow the country road and mail was not delivered.  Who cares!

I only hope that the electricity, phone and heat stays on.  It is a damp cold today.  Sadie and I are wrapped up in quilts.  I haven’t really ventured out today outside of taking Sadie outside three times a day for her daily constitutional.

No wonder we saw hundreds of birds two days ago.  They knew a storm was coming and they needed to store up on fat stores.  This will help them get through a few days while we are clobbered with the storm. 

Bird house laden with snow

Bird house laden with snow

It is Christmas.  Isn’t that a beautiful thought.  The forest is covered in snow. 

This morning I worked on the newsletter but didn’t feel inspired to write.  I finished a draft on the Harris checkerspot butterfly.  In the afternoon we took to the bedroom where there is a large window that looks out on the woods I am exploring across the road.  It felt so comforting to just watch it snow, snow, snow.  I finished reading Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans.  It was a good Christmas story.

I am getting tired of my soup and salad diet.  Still haven’t lost a pound.  Today I made lentils, onions and carrots and that tasted good.  The organic eggs were boiled before I came to the cabin and the egg salad sandwiches on nut whole grain bread are delicious.  Even the tea spiced with shiitake mushroom and orange and lemon peel tastes good.  I forgot to tell you that my friend owns a dairy and gift shop (My Favorite Things) in downtown Shell Lake.  She gave me some cheese curds that are made from their dairy before I came away on this trip.  Now that is something and I enjoyed every morsel.  Talk about eating local and organic. 

I hope you enjoy a very happy Christmas Eve.

Be happy readers where ever you are.

Clip art source:  paranormal.today.com/…/2008/12/santa-claus.jpg

Other photos copyright by Mary Ellen Ryall.

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Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day six

It’s Wednesday.

Wednesday is chore day.  I went outside only to nearly miss the garbage truck.  Luckily the driver saw me.  I dashed to the shed to get the garbage out for him.  We have to lock garbage up here because creatures from the woods would make a mess of it.

The fellow was friendly.  He asked, “Are you having a good time?”  I said, “I’m having a time of my life snowshoeing and I am so happy.”

Country road

A near miss and a friendly hello.

  The driver responded, “You make me feel like I should be out here doing the same thing.”  We talked about the forest and how it reminded us both of Upper New York State.  He told me, “I drove a truck till 1996.  That is the last time I saw Vermont and Upper New York State.”  I mentioned that I hadn’t been back since 1985. 

I explained that I came out here to be away from crowds and how that part of the country had grown dramatically.  I mentioned that out here, I could raise my own food and the heck with it.  He said, “I know and feel much like you do.”  Then we went our separate ways.

This is the land of self survival and there are more people who have a Pd H degree here and love this country simply because they want to live free.  New Hampshire has a motto “Live free or die.”  That’s how many of us feel in the Great North Woods.  We are self-sufficient and depend on ourselves. 

The wind is howling and it is a bitter cold today.  I did not snowshoe.  Instead I am studying a book MycoMedicinals by Paul Stamets.  Sandy Stein and I met him in 2008 at the Tesuque Pueblo Food Sovereignty Conference in New Mexico where Happy Tonics was invited to exhibit.  He was the keynote speaker.

This is when I seriously started to dive into learning about mushrooms.  I have always been fascinated by them and did an independent study in learning to identifying mushrooms and finding out which ones are edible.  Not having a teacher, I never did learn to properly identify them and knowing how dangerous they can be, I will wait till I have a teacher.

Lichen on oak tree

Lichen on oak tree.

I did notice tree and rock lichen and took some photographs.  Here is a good web reference that will educate about the role of lichen and air at http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/p429lichens.html

This is one of the things I noticed most out in these woods was the fresh air and I think the lichen may have a role in how pure the oxygen is here on this land. 

In the meantime, I order my mushrooms from Paul Stamets Company Fungi Perfectis because he is world-renowned for his knowledge about MycoMedicinals and mycelium.  I even coated some vegetable seed with mycelium last summer because it is reported to make roots stronger.  This summer I plan to scatter mushroom spawn in my straw laden garden.

I now want to grow mushrooms.  Here’s is Paul Stamets You Tube video on how 6 Mushrooms Can Save the World at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5frPV58tY    

This discovery and research is very important.  So few of us understand the mycelium connection in its relationship to the earth and compared to the computer Internet.  We are hi tech now and perhaps because we are we are now able to grasp the importance of mycelium to save the world.

Be happy readers 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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