Sunday, February 26, 2017

Little pointed cap

Morel (according to Webster) any of several edible fungi having a conical cap with a highly pitted surface - called also morel mushroom.

Well, for the clueless, this definition sounds like a description of a dunce with bad acne. For those of us who get a hankering this time of year for the wild taste of those clandestine morsels, we drool our way into spring hoping to dine on them once more.

Without stooping down for the mushroom, you cannot put it in your basket. - Russian Proverb. When I was a kid, I found those tricky morels loved to hide beneath leaves and under logs. I seemed to find more than Dad, probably because I was closer to the ground. I learned to stoop down early, and in that bending, I learned that the most delightful morsels could be found, a lesson at an early age. It takes time to seek out what we care about even if it means bending ourselves to find it. That single chance to find a treasure or to pass over it. Observe and be rewarded or look away and miss an opportunity.

Oregon abounds with mushrooms. Yep, we have morels. I have been a bit tentative about hunting them as our forests are dense, and I am not educated in regards to the mushrooms here. So, I am going to take a class on our local fungi, grab a bag and step back in time. I want to learn, so I can take my grandkids hunting the way my dad took me. There are traditions essential to learn as a child. This one was a keeper.

Mushroom time is approaching. Through our forest service I found that my limit is a gallon of them. Indeed if I find a gallon, I will have a backache from bending and probably a stomach ache from the most delicious meal ever. Ah, yes, morels.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Birth of spring

The quiet earth wakes again as the daphne and hellebore bloom. Daffodils and other bulbs pop up bringing a fresh new shade of green to the soil. Activity that makes ready for spring long before it comes to life above the ground. Yes, indeed spring is on the way.

Oregon has had a winter like none before. It was the winter of 'mores'. More snow. More rain. Records on all accounts. Mud slides, pot holes, sink holes. Again, the earth below holds surprises that come to light in the spring. A globe in transition.

I decided to check with my old friend The Farmer's Almanac to see what we should expect for the coming months. Here in Oregon it predicted a rainier than normal winter. (got that right) Temps below normal. Snowfall above normal. (yep, again) April and May will be slightly warmer and drier than normal with summer warmer and rainier than normal. September and October to be cooler than normal. (Hm. Seems to me that 'normal' has disappeared.)

I went on to check what was up with the Ohio Valley. Winter was to be warmer than normal with not as much precipitation as normal. Snowfall was to be below normal. April and May are to be warmer than normal with rainfall above normal for the west side of the state. Summer is to be cooler and slightly drier than normal, and September and October will be rainier than normal. (Hm. We lost the normal again.)

Well, there is a new normal. It is a 'no longer normal'.  We cannot depend on what our usual seasons presented to us, because our world is changing. Flooding is worse, tornadoes and other storms are more violent, and there are more of them. Sea levels are changing with some small island countries actually looking for places to move their populace, before their island is lost to the sea. So what does this mean? What does it mean to the farmer? What does it mean to the world in general?

On AGweb, I found an article from the Farm Journal regarding the views of farmers and scientists. The article is written to explain the views of both sides. Having grown up in a farm community, I understand the tremendous feeling of protection farmers have for their way of life and protecting the very soil they love. And, from learning about what is happening all over the world, I see the immediacy of saving a world for my grandchildren and those who follow. It is a mixed bag of feelings. Feelings that raise anger as well as fear. However, no matter how you look at it our earth is in distress and changing. No one will win.

This lovely state in which I live now has changed. My weather journey began here thirty-nine years ago. We rarely had snow. Rain came in showers not torrents. We loved to boast that we never carried an umbrella. The weather has become more extreme. Tornadoes were rare, yet we see more and more now. Winter temps have dropped, and these homes built for milder winters are cold. We seem to go from drought to flood. Yes, the climate has changed.

Spring is peeking in on us. The path above my home has washed out, and mud greeted me inside my front door last week. There are gullies where once there was none. We struggle here to make a dent in this global changing. On a whole, we recycle everything we possibly can. We drive vehicles that do little to impact our atmosphere. There is little litter in our ditches because of our care of the earth. We protect our wildlife as passionately as we do our environment.

I write this not wanting my own way, because our environment will have its own way. Our lives will mean little in the grand scheme of things, but our grandchildren will reap what indeed we sow. There is no debate in that.

So I ask you to do your part. Whether or not you believe in global warming, our earth asks that you care enough to take care of it, so we all can share it. The air requires you to care enough to keep it clean for our children to breathe. Spring comes with the birth of new growth. Spring comes with the hope for all seasons.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

You might not see me often. You might know me by birth or by becoming family not of the womb but of the heart. You might only be an acquaintance. You might be a stranger who just wandered into my world. Well, you are all loved. When you entered my thoughts, you entered my heart. Today I thank you and give you my love.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The dancing bull

Strange the things come to mind when least expected. A niggle from the past comes creeping in, capturing the sense of smell, of touch, a memory.

I was watching a show about a bull that had lost a hoof. A new prosthetic hoof had been designed for the bovine. A demonstration of its new found dexterity not only tickled my funny bone, but also made me wonder what I had missed with the cows that live behind our house. The bull bound across the field, dancing after an enormous beach ball. It leaped and chased. It nuzzled the owner affectionately. What indeed had I missed.

Of course, in watching the bull's warm nose being stroked by the owner, I was reminded of my sweet horse with a nose as soft as velvet. The smells of the leather saddle, the barn, the damp horse after a fast run all came dashing back to me. And, I lovingly embraced the reminder.

Sometimes I think the barn was more my home than the house. There was never a day without a trip to the barn. A check on the cows. A handful of hay for my horse. In the summer, a daily sitting in the hay mow door. A look across the field to the road. A time of listening to the sounds in the house, in the field, in the pasture and at the neighbor's farms. Sometimes I'd visit the tractors and look at the old horse tack hung by the door. I'd touch the old, burlap feed sacks that Dad piled up over the cow stanchions. Searched for baby kittens. Gazed at some old fish Dad caught and put into the horse trough. Oh, yes, a daily trip to the barn. Hm. All that niggling from a bull dancing across a field with an artificial hoof.

Perhaps that jiggling of memory exposed what I had missed as a kid. I missed having our little herd of cattle as friends. I missed sitting with sheep instead of just ignoring them. I missed having more time with our rabbits, wondering if perhaps they could have been my friends as well. (I did not miss time with the chickens.) Wouldn't my dad laugh to see his cows chasing balls across the creek bottom. Sneaking a peak, I would watch to see if he realized that he had more than just dumb animals. He had critters that could play and enjoy life.

"Daddy, do you think animals have feelings?" I asked at an early age. "No, they don't have feelings. They're just dumb animals," He would reply. I have looked into the eyes of many a pet. "Oh, Daddy, indeed they do."

Dance on, sweet bovine. Dance on.

Monday, February 6, 2017

To be loved

'In the street I met a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat was threadbare- there were holes at his elbows: the water seeped through his shoes and the stars through his soul.' - From Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Back in the late 80's a musical came to the stage. One that rocked box offices and gathered followers. I have seen the stage production at least six times. I would see it as many times again if possible. Yet, the play was not the voice that held me. No, it was a book almost 2" thick. 1,463 page that I have read three times. It is the dearest book to me. Paragraphs are underlined. Notes in the margins. A story of love, war, forgiveness, compassion and most of all God.

 'What a great thing, to be loved! What a greater thing still, to love! The heart becomes heroic through passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure: it no longer rests on anything but what is elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more spring up in it than a nettle on a glacier. The lofty and serene soul, inaccessible to common passions and common emotions, rising above the clouds and shadows of this world, its follies, it falsehoods, it hatred, its vanities, it miseries, inhabits the blue of the skies, and no longer feels anything but the deep subterranean commotions of destiny, as the summit of the  mount feel the quaking of the earth.'

Valentine's Day is coming. It is not just a day for lovers. It is day of loving one another, loving our earth. My grandchildren and I will take our hands full of homemade valentines into the community. We will show our love to those we do not know with hope that they pass on the love. Love unbridled spreading across from one person to another. Could there be anything greater?

The book calls to me again. I think perhaps I should visit my old friend. With each passage, I learn more about myself, about humanity, and humility. We do keep learning, changing, growing. If we do not, we rob the world of the piece that is us, that needs us. We grow and change to lead future generations to even greater discoveries. We capture a new awakening with every person we meet and are the better for it.

'If no one love, the sun would go out.' - Thank you, Victor Hugo.