Forage Friday #48 Mint

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Rest & Healing” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

There’s not many life experiences that I enjoy more than the smell of the wild peppermint on a humid July afternoon. I enjoy it so much that I combed through weeds along my creek and collected the peppermint to transplant to the edges of my garden. It wasn’t long before the peppermint just went crazy and took over the whole vegetable bed. Then it outpaced the grass in that section of the yard. And I loved every bit of it! I carefully kept the mint out of vegetables by removing the whole plant and keeping the stems and leaves to cure by hanging upside down in a cool dark place. We have a tendency to say that we “dry” the leaves and roots that we use for teas but when it’s done right it’s more of a curing process that preserves the oils in the plant. When you search the internet for ways to cure fresh mint leaves most of them involve heat. It’s suggested to put them in oven or even the microwave but I’ve never really trusted this. The mint oil is volatile and dissipates when heated. Drying the leaves with heat will make your house smell good but that smell is the very oils that you re trying to preserve escaping into the atmosphere. A slower, cooler process means that the leaves will retain more of the oils. How long to hang them really depends on the environment. In humid air it’s going to take a little longer than if the weather is dry. In general, a couple of days should be good. Just keep an eye on them and when they have the texture and feel of a good tea they’re ready. They should be dry enough to prevent mold. You can place the cured leaves in a clean mason jar but don’t screw the lid down too tight. The jar can still have moisture in it and set up conditions for mold to grow.

The reasons for foraging any wild mint should be pretty obvious. Mints are big part of tea blends and candies but it’s also a big part some high end Gourmet food. I like my meals pretty simple but I’ve seen different mints incorporated in salads, pastas, fish and of course mint and lamb is a classic combination.

Medical uses are also pretty well known. Mints were and still are one of the mainstays of herbalism. Menthol is known to have antiseptic properties and mint was used to wash wounds to prevent infections. In researching for this article I even came across a commercial product that uses peppermint oil as a base for sterilizing textiles.

As a digestive aid peppermint is said to relax the digestive muscles and provide relief from dyspepsia.

Mints are also used in balms which was the inspiration for the title of tonight’s feature image. I couldn’t help but think about the need for healing when I noticed the condition of the little butterfly’s wings. I had to wonder if he landed on the mints to sooth his tattered wings.

Peppermint and mints in general are said to be antiviral and specifically the milder herpes viruses that cause cold sores.

One of the things that I like to use the wild mints for is pest control. When outdoors in places where I’m likely to encounter mosquitoes and gnats I rub down with a few mint leaves to keep them at bay. A good trick that I picked up from Tom Brown Jr’s books is to stuff a few mint leaves into the trim on a hat and that reduces the number of gnats in my face. A simple spray of lemon scented herbs such as Spicebush leaves and mints can be misted around camps and picnic areas. Make a tincture of the herbs by soaking them in vodka or grain alcohol for several days. Then I’d mix it 50/50 with water and place it in misting bottle and refresh as needed.

I suppose that a whole series could be done on mints and we may revisit them at a later date.

My Forage Friday posts are really just to get people interested enough to look up what these plants can be used for and to share ideas so please remember to do further research and never rely on a single source for information. I’m not a medical professional so any of the medicinal uses stated here are just anecdotal.

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Looking Forward To Longer Days.

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Pipevine Swallowtail on Blue Lobelia 9919” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

As the night shrinks away earlier and arrives later day by day I grow eager for life to return to my forest. We still have a lot of winter to endure but today I had actual, real life, daylight to enjoy as I walked out of the office of the day job! I was thrilled because that hasn’t happened since late October.

It’s a welcome sign on my natural calendar indeed. If it were within my power I would declare a national holiday on the first day that there’s real daylight at the end of the workday.

I suppose that’s what fueled my desire to post a butterfly picture tonight. The image of the pipevine Swallowtail visiting one of the wildflowers in my yard brings me back to the days that last until bedtime. I can look into the photo an mentally transport myself to that place where I can feel the sun.

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Painted Ladies

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Painted Lady On Dogbane 1” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

As I stood on the edge of yard outside of the office building the butterflies continued to playfully feed on the bloom of the Indian Hemp. Across my my right shoulder one of more colorful ones fluttered by to land on the small white flowers. When it landed it folded it’s wings to show the silvery patterns on underside of the rear set. It was a painted lady.

These small colorful butterflies are found in both the old and new world. In the old world they migrate between Europe and Africa. The experts seem to debate on which populations actually cross the ocean but at least some do.

Back in North America the painted ladies stay mostly in the United States and Southern Canada with one population mapped in Mexico.

It’s been observed by some scientists that the population seems to boom during periods of heavy rain. I’m guessing that might have something to do with the rain and warm weather causing the plants to have growth spurts which means more flowers and thus more food for the butterflies.

Last night I mentioned that the Great Spangled Fritillary was host specific to violets and laid it’s eggs where there would be violets for the catipiller to feed on but Painted Ladies are not as choosey. They host on over one hundred species of plants.

The males, ( still called painted ladies) are territorial and will actually have aerial duels with rivals. They pick a roost and return to it after fight.

The last little bit of trivia for tonight’s post is that painted ladies see in the ultraviolet ranges but probably cannot tell the difference between red and green. Which incidentally is something that they have in common with honeybees.

Painted Lady On Dogbane 2

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The Skipper Butterfly… Bringer Of Wishes

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my blog. Tonight’s feature image is titled “Wishes On Wings” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The little butterfly dances through the air and nearly lands on my shoulder before continuing on to the Japanese Honeysuckle. I was reminded of a tale told to me on my first real job in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I worked with an older man who really should have retired from the job long before I was hired. We were ditch diggers. Our job was to keep the ditch on grade and make sure that the it was ready for the pipeline that was to be installed. The hot southern sun and high humidity kept us covered in sweat. For heat safety we took frequent breaks with plenty of water and Gatorade. During a break on a particularly hot day a little skipper like the one in the feature image kept landing on my wet shirt. (Presumably it was after the salt I lost through sweating. ) My workmate looked at me with wide eyes and congratulated me on getting my wish. I was a little confused and asked him what he meant. He explained to me that these butterflies were really angels in disguise and that if one landed on you it means that they were bringing back the wishes that you had made on a dandelion. The longer we worked that day the more the little skippers landed on us and eventually we began to make guesses about which of our wishes was coming true. By the time we finished our shift we figured that we were getting everything that we’d ever wished for. I had never heard of that superstition before but all that guessing made the day go by quickly. It was fun to think about getting everything that we’d wished for.

The older man passed away at the end of that summer and I went back to college. Every time I see one of these skipper butterflies I’m reminded of the man I worked with one summer and all the wishes that were granted by his angels.

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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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Seeking A Sign, My Natural Calendar

Today cold winter weather has me longing for green trees, brightly colored flowers and a warm breeze. If I concentrate hard enough I can almost smell the honeysuckle. As usual, the second week of January finds me done with winter. Santa Claus has come and gone, the festive lights are put away for another year and Christmas candy has all been eaten. What’s a person to do in the digital age other than pull out some photos that warm the soul even if the body still feels the chilly air. This is time I begin to watch the buds on the trees. It’s really early to see any sign of change. Normally it won’t be until March before the trees start to wake up from the long slumber that began in late October. But, like a schoolboy waiting for the last bell to ring I wil watch the clock. The deep frost is the first sign of change. That began today. The next phase is the deep snow. Usually that comes between the last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February. Between Valentine’s Day and the end of March it’s a little random but the March winds mean that the season is changing. Next we start noticing less of a need for heavy jackets in the last week of March but don’t be fooled, that’s just a setup for the Easter snow. My guess is that there will be bunny tracks in a powdery dusting of winters last hoorah this year. Historically speaking, that’s it. Then the warmth comes back to the mountains and the honeysuckle blooms for real. I really don’t have much to base this on other than recollection and gut feeling but it helps me look for the next goal as the snow falls outside of my window.

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Blue Treasure

Tiny wings dance in the warm summer breeze as I explore the edges of my yard. She seems so carefree as she flits and flickers from place to place. The pale blue wings are are a joy to behold as the shutter snaps. It’s as if the Spring violets came to life and took to the wind. I have watched these little butterflies my whole life and never really took the time to find out the name. At first I thought that it was “Small Blue” which is a species found in the U.K. and Asia. But with a second Google search I learned that it’s a Spring Azure. Both are from the Lycaenidae family. The internet is full of scientific data on the feeding and mating habits as well as the season and range and all of the wonderfully nerdy things that make the internet interesting. But the best part of the little blue butterflies that are spotted in the warmer months is the childlike giggle that comes from deep within the soul when they’re near.

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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Recently, I’ve been made aware that many of my posts on Facebook are being buried in the feed. So, if you don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website at the bottom of theWelcome Page

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

4X6 is $5.00

5X7 is $10.00

8X10 is $15.00

Some cropping may be necessary for certain sizes.

Ring this bell to order prints or schedule portraits

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The Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

Gently gliding on the warm breeze she sails through my field of vision and softly lights on the sweet clover. She is something special. Her distinct stripes and long “tail” identify her as the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly. While she feeds on the nectar of flowers her young feed exclusively on the pawpaw tree. Once a favored fruit in the Appalachian Mountains the pawpaw (AKA pond Apple or custard apple ) is almost found only in the wild. Because the fruit has almost no shelf life commercial growers found no use for it. As a result it was not cultivated and is not nearly as abundant as it was even just fifty years ago. Because the the tree is so important to the butterfly their numbers have also declined. But on the old homesteads found on edge of civilization the pawpaw still grows and even thrives in a few places and so does the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly. If you see one during the breeding season then you can be sure that a pawpaw patch is nearby. If you’re an adventurous connoisseur of natural foods or vantage crops then it’s worth trying to find the pawpaw in season and give it a try.

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