The Richness Of An Appalachian Morning

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Pipevine Swallowtail And Moonflower” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Softly floating from place to place the butterfly explores each bloom searching for the one that has the sweetest rewards. The late summer brings the Moonflower and every little twig becomes a bloom. Off in the distance a Ruby Throated Hummingbird darts skillfully through the underbrush as he carries out the same quest. I turned around to focus but he eludes my lens with ease and disappears back into the forest. The crow in top branches of a snag finds this amusing and cackles in a mocking tone. Bumblebees fly in lazy S shaped patterns and crawl into the last of Pale Jewelweed that dangles from dew kissed leaves. They shake the plant as they dig their way into bloom and send a cascade of droplets to forest floor.

Image Title “Getting Into Her Work”

Life is a series of moments that are welded together in experience. The more experiences you have, the richer life is.

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Forage Friday #10 Red Clover

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Red Clover 91217″and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The warmth of summer sun blankets the ground in the Appalachian Mountains. As I stepped out the robin gives and alert call and swiftly zips across the yard and disappears into a thicket. In the direction that she flew I see the reddish pink dots that stand a little taller than the surrounding grass. I eased over to the edge of the yard and bent down to pluck a single head from the plant. Red clover was one best parts of summer as young boy on the farm. During one of my long walks with my grandfather he stopped and pulled up a couple of red clover flowerheads. He would grip a few of the individual florets in his teeth and gently pull them from the base. They were full of sweet nectar and by freeing them from the base one could enjoy that sweetness unencumbered by grassy part. That’s how I was introduced to red clover. My brother and I would often pick a few as we played the countryside. Occasionally we’d get a dry one that wasn’t quite so awesome but for the most part they were like natural candy. No wonder the cattle would sometimes push through the electric fence to get to the clover.

As I got older I learned that all clovers are rich in protein. Peterson’s Field Guide says that the raw leaves and flowerhead is hard to digest raw but that soaking them in salt water for a while and boiling for fifteen minutes makes it so they can be eaten in quantity.

The dried flowers are a an awesome herbal tea that has some health benefits.

These days we know that smoking anything is not a good idea but Native Americans included different types of clover in “Kinnikinnick”. Contrary to popular belief Native Americans rarely smoked pure tobacco. Kinnikinnick loosely translates as “things mixed together” and it seems that everyone had their own recipes based on the purpose of the smoke. I can remember some of the old timers talking about generations of Mountaineers prior that kept a jar of red clover for their pipes. At one point there was a marketed tobacco substitute for people who were trying to quit smoking that used red clover as a base. I’m not sure why but seems to have been taken off of the market for some reason.

The last use listed by Peterson’s Field Guide is as a four. I do have to wonder what a non grain based flour made from clover might mean to someone who has a grain sensitivity. (⚠️ please remember that I claim no expertise in anything medical. ⚠️) The technique I found by searching the internet seems pretty straightforward. Dry the flowerheads at low temperatures and grind them in a blender until you have a fine powder.

Clover is usually easy to find in large quantities but it can also be purchased at agricultural supply stores as a soil amendment and livestock fodder.

For me red clover is a harbinger of sweet memories. But then again, I just might find a way to keep a patch handy to occasionally enjoy.

⚠️Please remember that my blog is a photography blog and that Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter and not a substitute for proper training in survival or foraging.

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Take Time To Grow

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Hickory Seedling 43019″and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

It’s not how you start out but where you end up that’s important. Growing as hard as it can this little hickory tree is barely a foot tall. But if it lives long enough it could end up being one hundred and twenty feet tall. But that’s not going to happen overnight. It’s likely to take hundreds of years of hot summers and icy winters. It will have to survive multiple windstorms and seasons of drought before it can be a giant.

In our age of technological wizardry when you can fix a hot meal and download your favorite feature length film in less than five minutes we have come to expect instant success. We want the “cheat codes” of life. But then what? You can’t cheat life without cheating yourself out of the reasons why winning is awesome. A one hundred and twenty feet tall tree that has never weathered the storms will be doomed to crashing down in the first gust of wind. Like our own bodies, a tree has to develop its strength and flexibility by being exposed to the harsh conditions. It takes time to develop that kind of strength. It’s a battle that often leaves scars inside the wood. Not every tree reaches its full height. In fact, the average hickory tree is only sixtyfive feet tall. About half of its potential. And still we sit beneath it’s branches in awe of its size not considering that at one point in its life it was just another plant growing in a ditch. Most of us would have mistaken it for a weed.

A hickory seedling looks like just another weed

We shouldn’t measure our lives by where we are now. We need to consider that reaching our potential means weathering many storms and taking the time to develop those strong roots that hold us fast.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

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Thank you again for your support of my page!❤

Dogwood & Tree Frogs

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Dogwood Before The Rain “and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article. Tonight’s image has very little to do with the story and was merely used for a backdrop to the story.

The bright sunshine dims as the dark clouds gather overhead. The birds continue to sing but the tune changes as they signal their mates to come to shelter from the rain. As the flocks gather the forest falls silent but only for a moment. A lone tree frog drones out from somewhere among the leaves and branches. The rain comes softly at first but soon the heavens open up and sheets of water pound the forest. It doesn’t last long. The cloudburst is over as quickly as it began. The water collects and pools on the forest floor where the thick canopy of trees prevents it from drying up. The water isn’t really deep enough to be what most people would call a pond. It’s really more of a ditch but it is full of life. Tiny little fish-like creatures dart about through leaf litter on the bottom grazing on algae and snagging the occasional mosquito larvae.

When I was a kid there was a huge puddle out in the woods and it was always full of tadpoles and newts. As your shadow fell across the water the puddle would almost look as if it was boiling from all the sudden movement. In addition to the newts the tadpoles came from tree frogs and leopard frogs. It was practically an amphibian city with tadpoles in various stages of development. The surrounding forest was always full tree frogs and even to this day one of the most peaceful things in my life is laying in bed and listening to the tree frogs sing me to sleep. Even as I write this article there’s a tree frogs just outside my window singing.

There’s actually two types of tree frogs that frequent my home. The Eastern Gray Tree frog and Cope’s. To look at these two species you can’t tell the difference. In fact it wasn’t until we developed genetic testing that we knew for sure it was two unrelated species. But there is a way to tell the difference without trying to get a frog to spit in a cup. The two frogs sing a very different songs. Cope’s Gray Tree Frog has more of a trill where The Eastern Gray Tree frog has more of a warble sound.

By standing on my porch and listening I can tell that I have one male Eastern Gray Tree Frog in the front yard and Two of the Cope’s Gray Tree Frogs, one in back of the house and one down near the marsh off to the side. I’m guessing that the only way to know how many and what species females there are would be venture outside and see who shows up to each call.

As I lay here in my recliner listening to the lullaby/love songs of the tree frogs the peaceful feeling overcomes me and I must bid you a good night.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

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Thank you again for your support of my page!

Artifacts

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Logging Dog”. If you’reinterested in a copy please use the contact instructions at the bottom of the page.

Somewhere in the distant past the forest echoes with the voice of the foreman mingled with either the whine of chainsaw motor or the thump of axes being driven into the boles. The crackle of limbs breaking and thunderous crash echoes through the mountains as a giant falls to the earth. The tree lands with the precision of a master archer’s winning bullseye. The lumber will go to mill where it will become part of School, home, church or any number of beloved objects made from wood. Worn out by the heavy labor the lumberjacks begin to gather their tools leaving the undergrowth to mature for the next fifty years or so. When done properly the harvest will actually improve the overall health and diversity of the forests and for now the last mature tree has been taken. And beneath the broken limbs and scattered leaves there are artifacts left behind.

Fast forward a few decades and you’ll see my father improving a trail that cuts through the back of property. He spots something in spoil cast aside by blade of his tractor. The short section of heavy chain has a spike on one end that’s designed to be driven into a log like an anchor. The artifact is called a logging dog and it’s used to drag logs to landing where they are loaded into the truck. It was a valuable tool for whoever left it behind but now it’s a treasured conversation piece in my Dad’s collection. It makes me wonder why we are drawn to things like warped and weathered wood or rusty chunks of metal. Sometimes it’s a lost item like the logging dog or the axe head that I found in the same area several years before he found the chain. Other times it’s a discarded item like an antique soda bottle that a camper no longer needed. Such things as old canning jars and antique medicine bottles have a value on the open market. There was a time when a young man person could excavate a makeshift dump and carry out a little spending money in the form of unbroken glass and rusted iron. Recently I rediscovered a rusted item that I pulled out of the creek. The photos I posted on a Facebook Forum are below.

While not as artistic as I like to post the “mystery object” has conjured up guesses of everything from lost confederate treasures to counter weighs for a barn door. ( I believe that counter weight theory is in lead)

Whatever it is it has the same appeal as the logging dog. It’s a connection to the past. It was a part of someone’s everyday life and witness to history.

I enjoy keeping my eyes open when I’m nearby old job sites and forgotten places. Nice finds like antique blue mason jars are going to be a pretty rare find these days and most of stuff I spot aren’t really worth picking up except to dispose of it properly but occasionally I find something unique enough to at least try to figure out what it was when it was new.

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Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer.

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First Bloom.

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “First Bloom”. As with all of feature images on my copies can be purchased by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Tonight we’re having a little cold snap and as expected there is ice, snow and cold rain all on the same day. But I’m actually encouraged by the turn in the weather because historically there’s always a couple of snowy days before winter actually ends. Today’s snow means there’s only one or maybe two snows left to deal with. The next sign will be the emergence of the Serviceberry. Also known locally as Sarvis tree Serviceberry is probably the first thing to bloom in the Appalachian Mountains. As I understand it, the name comes from the old days when traveling during the winter months dangerous at best. Oftentimes when a person passed away in the winter the body was burried whenever it could be and the memorial service was delayed until Spring. There was little in the way of flowers to bring to the grave and thus the bloom of the Serviceberry tree filled the need. The tree would have been planted near churches and graveyards to ensure that flowers were available for those who came to the service. There’s other stories about how the tree got it’s name and there’s a long list of names for this family of trees. If I remember correctly from my forestry classes ( 20 years ago) the trees do hybridize frequently making exact identification of species and strains best left to tree nerds.

Because of the early bloom these trees are an important source of food for honeybees. It’s a mistake to think that honeybees sleep the winter away. They are busy all through the winter keeping the hive warm with their bodies and that means that they need fuel. A quick Google search says that a hive might need as much as thirty pounds of honey to make it through until Spring. TALK ABOUT A SUGAR BUZZ! By the time the weather warms up they’ll be ready to resupply and a good crop of Serviceberry bloom is just thing to tide them over until the rest of the flowers wake up. Honeybees feed the world so if you’re the kind of person who plants ornamentals and your local environment will support Serviceberry then you can do something that will actually make the world a better place by planting Serviceberry. Not only will you feed the bees that pollinate crops that feed the world but you’ll be rewarded with crop of your own. The Serviceberry fruit is edible and delicious! When I was a kid we would eat the raw when we could beat the wildlife to the berries but there’s a whole list of puddings, pies and preserves that use the berries.

I’m betting that some of my fellow Appalachians have some wonderful stories about picking Serviceberry fruit in late Spring and early Summer and I’d love to hear about your memories in the comments! If you’re reading this in one of the Facebook groups that have comments turned off then come on over to the Lloyd’s Lens Photography page on Facebook and tell me your story there. The weather is bad outside but we can look forward to seeing those delicate white flowers soon. The feature image for this post was taken in the last week of March a couple years ago.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Skipping Stones

Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Skippersand is available forpurchase by using the Contact Form onmy website. Found at

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Nothing brings to mind the carefree days of childhood than skipping stones. Before cable tv, before the internet and before Fortnight we would hike down to Collison Creek where the stream was just wide enough to make a flat stone bounce and skip along the water’s surface. It wasn’t really wide enough to go for long distance. Making it to the other side of the creek was fairly easy so we got creative. In some spots the water flows around large rocks that made perfect bumpers. The object was to play the bank shot by skipping a stone into the bumper and making it land in a certain place. Sometimes we could get one to skip on the rebound after bouncing off of the bumper stone. Other skipping stone games involved landing a stone on a sand bar and a second player would try knock it off with his stone. This one lead to another incarnation that we called “soldier’s fort”. We would wade out to the sand bar and stack rocks like cairns. Usually the stack was only 2 or 3 stones high. Then twigs were gathered from the forest floor and stuck in the sand like a palisade. The object was to crash through the wall by skipping a stone into it until you could knock down a stack of rocks. We never really kept a score. It was all about finding something to do in an age where you had to create your own fun.

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