Forage Friday 3.. Redbud

Hello Friends!Tonight’s feature image is titled “Redbud 33019”. All of the photos are my original work and are available as prints by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

One of the true joys of an Appalachian Spring is the blooming of the redbud. In fact one of minor reasons why I chose the property that I live on now is the presence of reddish pink pops of happiness in late March to mid April. After a long gray winter the colorful redbud is a very welcome sight for sore eyes.

A closer look at the redbud flowers

Redbud is often planted as an ornamental shrub because of its early and colorful pea like flowers. And, it is a nitrogen fixing legume that is often used for reclaiming strip mines and helping to heal the soil.

Of course, this is Forage Friday and that means that redbud is also a wild edible. I have only used it as a “trail nibble” by picking a few raw flower buds here and there and popping a few in my mouth. However, I do think that it would be an interesting thing to add to a salad. I’ve been watching the bloom spread up the mountain and I think that I’ll try it as part of a salad soon. Being a legume I expect that redbud is rich in protein. I haven’t tried the pods yet either but Peterson’s Field Guide suggest a ten minute saute of the young tender pods which look somewhat like snow peas hanging below heart shaped leaves. (As always, make sure of positive ID. Before trying the first time. Trees like black locusts have similar pods and are considered toxic)

A word here on timing. The flower is only in its prime for a few weeks and once the pods reach a certain maturity they become leathery. I have also read that some people have canned the pods like green beans but it’s not something that I’m experienced with and as with this whole series I really recommend that you do further research before going out with a basket to try a new and exotic food from the forest.

Okay, don’t skip the disclaimer.

Forage Friday isn’t really intended to teach you everything you need to know about wild foraging. It was conceived as a way for me to showcase my photos while providing a few interesting tidbits of information to peak your interest and start a conversation in some of the forums that I share with on Facebook.

If you have eaten redbud flowers or pods of if you have a question about wild edible plants the comments are open to the public.

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Wood Violets Forage Friday 2

Hello Friends. Tonight’s feature image is titled “Yellow Wood Violet 41909” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Because we live in such a litigious society I’m obliged to remind you that Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter and not a guide. Having a positive ID on a plant is essential for safety and some of the plants coveted in this series do have poisonous look-alikes that might fool a novice. Wild foraging is a great way to get out and explore but be safety minded and do further research. I also recommend that you keep a copy of Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants handy.

In my part of the Appalachian Mountains one of the most abundant wild edible plants is the wood violet. In fact it’s so prevalent on my land that I have decided to consider it a volunteer salad crop. On their own the leaves are a little bland but they’re also rich in vitamin C as well as vitamin A. The leaves are basically a great substitute for spinach. Not being a huge fan of cooked greens I tend only eat them raw but they can be useful as a pot herb. The leaves and flowers are the only recommend parts. As a type 2 diabetic I avoid sweets but the flowers are often rolled in powdered sugar and eaten as candles. I’ve also recently been told of violet preserves and violet syrups has peaked my imagination.

I know that some people are looking at the yellow flowers in feature image and thinking that it’s the wrong color to be a violet. I have been told that it must be a pansy. Well, actually, both pansies and violets are in the genus Viola and both come in a variety of colors. One of my favorite violets is known locally as the Confederate Violet because of the grayish color.

Confederate Violet

Aside from color the leaves tend to be a little more round. But the shape of a leaf and the shape of the petals can vary depending on the soil nutrients and growing conditions.

Of course I have plenty of the common Blue Violets as well.

The blue violets are so competitive here that in some parts of the yard there’s more flowers than grass. I figured that was God’s way of making sure that I have plenty to eat so I let them have what they want.

One last word on safety and foraging for food. Be aware that we live in a post industrial world and that means that contamination is always a hazard. Chemicals that are used to control weeds can be found even in the most seemingly pristine setting and that includes farmlands. What looks like a park today can be hiding a place where illegal dumping has occurred. So look around before collecting and if something looks off then you might want to forage elsewhere.

So, tell me your experience. Have you ever tried violets as part of a camping trip or maybe an expiriment with Victorian cuisine? The comments are open to the public .

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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Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

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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The Day I Fell Into The Sky

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Morning Mirror” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Sunday morning I arrived early at the parking lot of my day job. The previous day’s blanket of snow was washed away by a warm rain. Like all parking lots ours has low spots where the water pools after a bit of inclement weather. It was the perfect opportunity for some black mirror photography. Breaking storm, bare trees and low angle of the sun reveals an alternate universe within the pool. Having managed to hold onto my childhood imagination brings me to daydream about accidentally stepping in the wrong direction and falling through into the other sky. My daydream completely absorbs me and I can feel the rush of cold air blowing through my hair as the clouds rush by. At first I thought that I was flying instead of falling. As the ground grows ever farther away my lack of control says that I’m definitely falling. I’m just falling up instead of down. Then it hits me. I’ve slipped into a mirror world and things here are backwards. Here, birds swim, fish fly and cats bark. If something didn’t happen soon I would fall completely off of the earth and drown in space. What I needed was an anchor of some sort. It was at that moment that I felt something wrapped around my ankle. There was a sudden jerk and I stopped moving. It was a kite string. I looked down to see the most beautiful kite that I have ever seen laying on the ground. I was saved. It took every bit of strength that I could muster to pull myself out of the sky. As I neared the earth I discovered that the kite was actually tangled up in the roots of a tree. Even in the mirror world some things are universal. Trees eat kites and that’s it. But for me it meant a place to safely rest by sitting upside down on a branch. I had come down far away from the mirror pool I had fallen into. I was worried that I might not be able to get home. I started to look around in a panic and that’s when I saw the arrows carved into the tree. They pointed to a large crack in the bark. I gather some slack from the kite string and looped it into a belt that could hold me to the tree and used it to shimmy down the trunk to the crack. I tugged on the edge of the broken bark and found that the tree was hollow. With nothing to lose I crawled in began to work my way towards the end where I saw a little speck of light. As the light grew closer I realized that I was no longer upside down. I came out at the base of another tree in my world. I would show you the pictures from the other side of the mirror pool but when I checked the folder I discovered that every time I snapped the shutter it deleted a file. 😉

With my childish daydream gone it was time for me to return to the real world for real. I did manage to catch a few good shots of the mirror pool for tonight’s feature image. One of which has already been released on Facebook in a few groups that I frequent. I hope that you have enjoyed tonight’s surreal tall tale about falling into the sky.

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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Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

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.

Thank you again for your support of my page! 😊

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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Winter And Wild Teas

In the natural world winter is a time for rest. The animals tend to stay in their dens. The hardwood trees are in a deep sleep as are the bears. Even the deer find a nice place in the deep woods where they can shelter from the cold. The days are still short and the cold nights are long. Just perfect for deep rest.

The giant elm tree in tonight’s feature image is just as beautiful in the winter as it is with its leaves on in the warmer months. One of the special treats of the colder months when I was a kid was bark teas. I’d be careful about where I harvested the bark (see note below) but elm actually has a nice spicy flavor. Several years ago I was able to try it for the first time. Traditionally it’s used for sore throats and colds ( I’m not a doctor or a certified anything so this is historical statement and not medical advice) due to the gelatinous fiber it yields. The flavor is similar to the Balsam Poplar that grows in higher elevations. In just a few months the buds will begin to swell and they make a good tea as well. In the old days, the Basswood (Linden or Lyme in Europe) buds were a source of winter food for my ancestors. Winter hikes in my teens always included stopping by a grove of black birch for a handful of wintergreen flavored twigs to nibble on. Sassafras was also a wonderful bark tea with an aroma that filled the house. There’s also the Carolina Spicebush who’s twigs provide a very lemon like flavor and the red berries of the stag horn sumac which has to be filtered well but gives us a pink lemonade in winter.

Perhaps that’s why I like this big old elm tree so much. It’s not only because it’s awesome to look at but it reminds me of all the cool stuff that the Appalachian forests provide even in winter.

(NOTE: WHILE THE TREES AND FOOD USES MENTIONED IN TONIGHT’S POST WERE TRADITIONALLY USED IN APPALACHIA THERE ARE HAZARDS AND FOOD ALLERGIES TO CONSIDER. FOR EXAMPLE, THE ELM IN TONIGHT’S POST IS GROWING NEAR A PLACE WHERE HAZARDOUS SOIL CONTAMINATION IS A RISK AND THEREFORE I WOULD CONSIDER THIS PARTICULAR TREE UNSUITABLE FOR CONSUMPTION. IT’S A SAD REALITY OF THE MODERN WORLD AND JUST NOT WORTH THE RISK. MCHM IS IN USE IN THE REGION AND LOCALS KNOW ALL TOO WELL THAT BY THE TIME A SPILL IS REPORTED IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE TO PREVENT CONTAMINATION. )

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Tonight’s Feature Image is “The Big Elm At London West Virginia 12.27.18” and is available for purchase by usingthe Contact Form on my website. ( just click on the the bell below)

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The Long Night And Meaning Of The Lights On The Tree

Recently I made the comment that I was more excited about the 21st of December than I was for the 24th or 25th. The 21st of December is the longest night of year. And, when the dawn breaks on the 22nd the light returns to planet Earth. Most people are aware of the winter solstice and how the early church decided that it was just perfect for celebrating Jesus’s birthday.

Saint John 1:4-5

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Simply put, the lights on a Christmas tree represent Jesus Christ as the light of the world.

The Appalachian Winter is one where we can have snow or rain or both for Christmas but the darkness of December is a constant. The steep incline of our hills and low angle of the sun makes the normally long night even longer. The darkness like sin seems to suffocate you. It brings a coldness that seeps into very core of your being. But just when you think it’s going to be dark forever the light breaks over a distant ridge and the cold night begins to retreat. The light returns and with it comes new life.

As I’ve studied the deeper meanings behind our Christmas decorations I’ve come to understand that the Christmas Tree itself is a microcosm of the Jesus experience. We can decorate the tree with all kinds of trinkets and bobbles and assign different meanings to them and make it a beautiful and artistic expression of our Christian faith but it’s when the lights are turned on that it comes to life and brings us joy.

So, that’s the meaning behind the Christmas lights. It’s the expression of new life coming into world and the exit of the long dark night.

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I Was Here

As humans we are hardwired to build. No matter if it’s a child making mud pies or a master tradesman crafting a skyscraper we can observe a meditative like state of mind as that person works. I wasn’t present when the cairn in tonight’s feature image was built but imagine that each stone was specifically chosen with planing and forethought. I imagine that the actual stacking would have involved mentally placing each peace in multiple positions so as to prevent the whole thing from collapsing. In the past I was fascinated with megalithic works. Everywhere you find humans you find large stones arranged by human hands. And of course my favorite was Stonehenge. Everyone has a theory about why it was built and in fairness it has been used for many purposes over the past Five Thousand Years but I have to wonder if it’s simply a work of art. Assembling Stonehenge would have been a massive undertaking but what if like the random hiker stacking stones near Cathedral Falls the builders simply wanted to be remembered? After all, stacking stones is a great way to say “I was here”.

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Visit My Website

Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Cairn 2” and is available for purchase by using the Contact Form on mywebsite. (Note, I do not share or sale contact information.EVER)

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