A Springtime Walk in the Woods.

So, out here in the Midwest Springtime means a lot of things: Warmer weather.  Longer days.  Allergies (or is that one more just me?).  And… mushroom season.

Morel Mushrooms are wild, and delicious, and native.  Unlike their cousins that you find in supermarkets, they’re almost impossible to cultivate.  If you have a taste for them, you have to search them out in the woods (or pay roughly $50 a pound for them…).

I’m a very casual mushroom hunter.  I’m thrilled when I find them, but I kind of just use them as an excuse to disappear into the woods for an hour or two.  There are other people who nearly make a religion out of the hunt, paying homage to the mushroom god Morel and telling tales of their encounters time and time again.  The pilot lounge at the airport (where I work) has been abuzz with rumors of sightings for the last week.  So I thought I’d check things out.

Jeremiah thinks I’m nuts…or that I’m going to poison myself.  I keep telling him that no other mushroom can be mistaken for a morel, but I’m not sure he believes me.

I changed into long sleeves and threw on a hat.  Jeremiah asked me if it was my mushroom hunting hat; I said that it’s my “I really hate ticks and don’t want them in my hair” hat.  He seemed astonished.

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“Ticks?  In your hair?”

Apparently, with his flat-top haircut, this is unheard of.  But I’m not crazy, right?  Getting ticks in your hair is totally a thing.

I took off down our back road, wandering past the llama barn where the llamas paid me no mind.

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In fact, no one paid me any mind…except my sweet old man, Cinco.

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Cinco followed me along the fence line of the horse pasture, stopping in front of me to request some of the long grass that had grown up along the other side of the fence (where the grass really is greener…).

Then I popped out to look at the site of my future outdoor arena.  I knew I wouldn’t find any mushrooms there, but I like to wander out and stare at it sometimes.  And dream about the day when we can afford to haul in the materials to finish it.

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And dream about all the time I will spend riding my ponies under the pines.

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Isn’t it lovely?

Then, since all quests need a villain, and this mushroom quest is no different, I present to you POISON IVY!

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No!!! The bane of my summers!  Kill it!  Kill it dead!

*Rages incoherently for a moment…*

“Oh, look!  A pretty flower.”

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I’m not sure what these are, but they kind of look like little stars.  And they’re lovely.  And they’re all over this time of year.

And of course, the wild violets are everywhere.  A ground cover in places.

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When I was little, I used to pick bouquets of wild violets for my mom and put them in a tiny vase with dandelions.  The violets I used to pick were purple or lavender or white.

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I didn’t even know they came in yellow until I was older.

The may apples are up as well, covering our trails.

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But they aren’t blooming yet.

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Then I walked under a fallen reminder that we need to clear the trail if we ever want to ride back here with horses

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And I noticed a tree just beside that one that had been down so long it had almost taken care of itself.  Ashes to ashes…to ummm…moss.

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These little flowers are all over.  They remind me of bleeding hearts, but instead of hearts, their tiny flowers look like butterflies.

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Another tree across the trail, this one more recent.  I had to climb through it.  *Mumbles something about needing to clear trail*

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More flowers!  Bluebells!

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Anybody notice what I hadn’t seen yet?  If you’re thinking mushrooms, you’re right.   I kind of think it’s still a little early.  Or maybe I just missed them.

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Here’s the thing about morels: they aren’t very big, and they’re roughly the same color as the forest floor.

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Hey, look!  A Jack-in-the-Pulpit  .

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Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate that this is in my backyard?

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But alas, still no morels.

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So back down the trail to our farm road.  I’ll try again when the may apples bloom.

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Wish me luck!

P.S. – My blogger friend over at The Wicked Chicken takes a weekly walk kind of like this one but with better photos.  If you’re into nature photography, you should check her out.


Because Science…

So, I have poison ivy.  AGAIN.

If anyone is keeping track, that brings my count to, I think, five times this in the last few months.  Given that it usually takes a few weeks to go away, that means I’ve basically had poison ivy to some degree ALL SUMMER.

Last night, as Jeremiah and I were winding down from our exceedingly exciting anniversary (Recap: We drove five hours to Columbia, MO.  He put shoes on three horses while I watched him put shoes on three horses.  We drove five hours home.), I was complaining about wanting to scratch my skin off.  Anything that I knew had the potential to make the itching feel better (anti-itch cream, etc) was, you guessed it, at the ranch.  Driving there to pick up such items wasn’t really an option, nor was high-tailing it to the local Walgreens.  (Because it was late, and I was lazy.)

Instead, I did what any good millennial will do when in need of solutions to a problem.

I Googled it. (WordPress, by the way is flagging “Googled” as misspelled.  At first I thought it was just jealous of Google’s success, until it flagged “WordPress” too…)

how to make pois...

Turns out, Google’s first impulse is to assume that I’m trying to make poison.  (To what ends, Google apparently does not judge.)  It’s second impulse is to assume I’m a medieval sorcerer in search of potion making tips and tricks. (You have to go with sorcerer, by the way, because witch is just loaded with gender biased connotations.  You probably don’t have to assume it’s medieval, but I did because I like the word medieval.)  It is not until Google’s third impulse that we get anywhere near where we need to be.

You know what this means, don’t you?  It means that there are more people out there searching for ways to make poison…or, erm, poison potions…than there are innocent people like me who just want to make poison ivy go away.

And, incidentally, Google still got it wrong because I wanted to search for “how to make poison ivy stop itching.”

Once I got passed my initial searching, which took a while because of the running commentary I was providing for my husband who really trying hard to get some legal documents filed with legal zoom, I finally found a fairly useful article on WebMD.

And by fairly useful, I mean that it provided quality information without suggesting that my poison ivy might be cancer.

I had been expecting all of the websites to recommend hydrocortisone cream or something, which I did not have.  Instead, though, WebMD offered up some really basic suggestions.  There were a bunch of things on this really long list, but I only read the first three:
1. Ice it.
2. Use a baking soda paste on the affected area.
3. Use watered down vinegar.
Now, these suggestions are all meant to be used individually, but, being the overachiever that I am, I decided to try all of them at once.

Go back and read that list again.  Do you have it yet?

Yeah…I basically made up a batch of the contents of a third grader’s volcano science project, put it on a paper towel, and then threw an ice pack over the top of it.  (By the way, overachievers don’t water down the vinegar…or the baking soda…because that would just be silly.)

Know what?  Totally worked.

I’m not even kidding.  Within about 10 minutes, the poison ivy rash that had been tormenting me all day stopped itching.  And the itching hasn’t come back.  Because science.

Now, if only I could come up with a delivery method that INCLUDED the 3rd grade volcano, this would perhaps be the best discovery ever.





I fought the farm and the farm won.

Sometimes, as I’m finishing up evening chores, watching my llamas and horses graze while the sun sets, I think that Jeremiah and I have managed to find our way into a corner of the world’s most perfect paradise.  A place over run with butterflies and hummingbirds, overcome with the sweet smell of hay or newly mowed grass.

Other times?

Well, other times I wander through the yard and make my way through some poison ivy that I didn’t know was there.  And I spend the next few hours itching and thinking about all of the places where the property is still overgrown.  (That just happened yesterday by the way.  I just picked up prednisone from the pharmacy a few hours ago.  Hopefully, by this evening, I will stop wanting to scratch my skin off.)

Sometimes, the wildness of the place is what I find most charming, and I am overwhelmed by the beauty of it.  Other times, I am simply overwhelmed.

This is the double-edged sword of country living.  Keeping the chickens AND having to kill the raccoon.  Enjoying the butterflies and hoping that we managed to kill all of the black widows…but knowing that we probably didn’t.  The chipmunks that look so cute scampering around the driveway…and all the mice that come free with the house.  (We will have to do something about that, and I will feel awful because I like mice–I’ve even had a few pet ones–I just don’t like them running wild in my house.)


And I’m not even going to think about the mountain lion that we spotted earlier this year; pretty sure he was just passing through.

And in moments like this, it’s best to not think too hard about the difficulties.  Just keep calm and carry on.

Beautiful pasture, complete with lovely wildflowers and poison ivy. *Sigh*