Forage Friday 1 Cattail

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Before I begin I feel the need to explain the concept behind Forage Friday. First and foremost, Forage Friday is not intended to teach you everything you need to know about wild foraging. Many of the plants I’ll be covering do have toxic look-alikes and for an inexperienced person could result in disaster. It’s highly recommended that you seek out further information before trying it yourself. One of the best resources will be those of the older generation from rural areas who have relied on wild foraging to get by in hard times. They’re just full of knowledge and crave interaction. As you’re reading the post please remember that the author is very human and as such is capable of errors so it’s best to double check with other sources. With that said, it’s my hope that you are entertained and inspired learn more.

One of the first wild edible plants that I learned is also one of the easiest to identify, I’m speaking of course of the common cattail. I remember that when we were kids we’d pretend that the distinctive flowerhead was a corndog. After all, it’s a hotdog shape on a stick. It even looks like it’s breaded. The “hotdog” is not really edible. It’s densely packed fluff would be like trying to eat a down jacket. This is actually the seeds. However, in its season the male flowers are loaded with bright yellow pollen. The pollen is collected by sticking the spike in a bag and shaking it gently. Soon you’ll have a protein rich powder that is generally mixed 50/50 with wheat flour. I have not actually tried it myself but I’m told that it makes awesome pancakes!

What I have tried is the cucumber flavored rhizome and stem base. They are carbohydrate rich and as a type 2 diabetic I tend to avoid carbs these days. But they are tasteful! The big thing to avoid here is contamination. Cattail is capable of absorbing both chemical and biological toxins. Because of this they are quite useful as biological filters in septic systems and in areas where the capture of chemical run off needs to be dealt with. That’s not to say that you can’t ever give them a try but be selective about where you find them. Open ditches in urban and suburban areas are most likely to be full of lawn chemicals or sewage. That pond out in country is a better choice but there’s still agricultural chemicals. Basically, if you wouldn’t eat the fish out of that water source then avoid the water plants as well. As I’ve matured and learned more about things like cryptosporidium I would no longer recommend raw cattail. Instead, scraping the starch out of the stems and leaf base to thicken soups.

Other than the food value of cattail it’s got some tool and craft uses. The fluff from the “hotdog” is a great tinder for your campfire. When I was a kid in Civil Air Patrol we learned that fluffing the down and stuffing it under your jacket makes a great insulation. The leaves are strong enough to be woven into mats or twisted into a string but it’s fairly weak and not suitable for anything that is under stress. But making a sun shelter for an extended stay in the woods is a perfect application.

Cattail is referred to as “Mother Nature’s supermarket. If I tried to list all of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned concerning cattail the post would be so long that reading it would take more time than most people are willing to invest. However, I do know that most of my fellow Appalachians probably have a trick or two to add. The majority of my readers find my posts through groups that I share with on Facebook. I want to encourage you to either comment on the post, or my Facebook page and even my blog is open to the public. I’d love to hear about your experience with cattail. How did you use it? Did you ever fall into the pond when pulling out the stems and leaves?

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April Speckles

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

The soft rain ends with the breaking of the dawn light and the forest comes to life. The morning chorus includes Cardinals, Flycatchers, Catbirds, Gold Finches and more. By mid morning mottled light filters down to forest floor. It may be the best opportunity to get out and catch some fresh air before doing the day’s chores in spite of the wet conditions. I have on my old sandals. The ones that I don’t really mind if the get muddy as I step carefully around the edges of the yard. The little purple pops of color were the first thing to catch my eye as I moved from the kept area of the yard into the transition zone where the woods begins. Wild Geranium blooms in April just as the leaves start to come out. All along the edges of the roads the landscape is speckled with purple blooms. The impression is that God took his paintbrush full of purple and shook it out onto Little Elk Mountain. The soft morning light seems to linger right on this little cluster to make the bloom glow. For a moment my imagination asks if it’s possible that I have stumbled across a fairy village. I could almost see them huddled together with a turkey tail fungus for a front porch and the moss for a shag rug. I blinked for moment and they vanished like the morning mists. And it was in this moment that I knew it was time to rejoin the real world and complete my chores.

Before I close, I want to announce that tomorrow night I’ll begin the “Forage Friday” series. For as long as I’m able I’ll post an image of a wild edible plant found in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. It’s not intended to teach you everything you need to know about wild edible plants. What it is intended to be is sharing some of my personal interests and to give those who want to explore foraging a place to start.

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

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

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If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click the web to go tohttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me onFacebook or use the Contact Form on my website

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Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook or use the contact form on my website and tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

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! 😊

Snow Day!

The second polar blast of deep winter is just a few days away. It’s normal for us get a couple of these from late January to mid February and not uncommon for early March. As a kid I would always be excited to hear about a winter storm warning on the news because that meant the possibility of a snow day. Now, for some of my readers who live in warmer climates I understand that you may not fully appreciate the art of the the snow day. Have no fear, I will guide you through it. 😉

First, as soon as the morning alarm goes off you need to jump out of bed and run to the window. Do you see snow? If it’s snowing heavily then that’s a good sign but it’s not a snow day yet. Next run into the living room and turn on the news. In the old days the weatherman/girl would read the list of closed schools but today the list just scrolls across the screen or you get a notification on your app that school has been called off. Once you’ve confirmed that your school is on the list you’ll need to have a talk with mom and dad. Be mature, if they suspect that shenanigans are afoot you’re going to wind up with a babysitter. If you have access to a little brother or sister now’s the time to help them with breakfast. It’s important that mom and dad see you as capable of taking are of things. Once mom and dad have left the house in your capable hands you should spend the rest of the morning under you’re favorite blanket watching cartoons with your dog and younger sibling. Cartoons in the old days usually lasted until mid morning. In my case that’s about the time that a grandparent would make an appearance. If it was my Grandfather then there’s a chance that sleds will be hooked up to the tractor and the shenanigans are about to begin. More than likely he’s been out all morning preparing the sled run by packing the snow with the tractor tires or creating a path to pull us all over the farm. By lunchtime the ride is over and everyone goes inside for hot Cocoa and a toasted peanut butter sandwich. The rest of the day is spent alternating between sledding and cocoa until it’s time for mom and dad to come home again. Missing a day or two of school due to snow didn’t really make a difference in my education however an extra day with my Grandfather is an experience that enriched my whole life.

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Primrose And Bees

It never really ceases to amaze me when I find out how detailed God’s creation is. All along the edges of my property I find Evening Primrose. The bright yellow bloom always makes me smile. But today I learned something new about the happy yellow flowers that just turned up one day and stayed. They can hear. Israeli scientists have discovered that the petals function like ears. When Primrose flowers “hear” the buzz of bees they actually release sweeter nectar to draw them in. They only react this way to the sounds of pollinators. Making the sweet nectar is biologically expensive and comes with other complications so the Primrose plant doesn’t produce it until it’s likely to be visited by a pollinator. I didn’t really see it mentioned in the article but I’m willing to bet that the bees will buzz the flowers in an effort to “wake them up “. If this is happening then I would expect to see the bee hover close to the flowers and then come back once it’s had time to produce the sweet treat.

Albert Einstein is credited with having said that God doesn’t play dice with the universe. When I think about the relationship between the Primrose plant and the bees I see this as evidence that not only does He not play dice with the universe but He’s designed a perfect system and that everything has it place and a roll to play in it. For those of us who desire a harmonious relationship with God let me ask if that should also mean a harmonious relationship with his natural world? I believe so. If we could just figured out the little details and pursue a simple lifestyle I believe that creation would respond to us the way the Primrose responds to the bee. In the garden of Eden God told Adam and Eve to subdue the Earth, not destroy it. (The word subdue implying gentle persuasion. )

I’m providing a Link to the full article in case you’re interested in reading it for yourself. As always links to my blog and Facebook page are provided below.

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Twilight Stillness

The ebbing daylight lingers a little more each day. Slowly but surely the melting ice soaks into the earth or makes it’s way to the river. I’ve begun to hear birds singing throughout the day. Already the Tuffed Titmouse and the Sapsucker gave been spotted on the sides of the trees. These birds are here year-round but tend to stay sheltered in the deep woods during the darkest days. I’ve also noticed that the wind is shifting from Northwest to Southwest. It will bounce back and forth over the next month or so before settling down. The exciting part for me is the increased opportunity for twilight and sunsets. Most of the photos I post are taken on the fly as I travel to and from my day job. Tonight’s Feature Image was taken in the parking lot of Tractor Supply. Silhouette of the windmill and fading light was something that I couldn’t resist. The contrail from the passing jet gave me the impression of a shooting star. So much so that I almost made a wish when I pulled up the file. Within a few minutes of snapping the shutter the last rays of light faded behind the mountain and the window for shooting closed. I clicked the button on my key fob and the headlights of my big blue truck came to life to guide me home to my wife and pup.

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Tracking People And Making Decisions

Not that long ago I was fascinated with Tom Brown Jr and his books on tracking. His reputation in the wilderness survival community is unparalleled. He’s actually been a consultant for several Hollywood Movies and it’s been said that he can track your footsteps across a bare concrete floor and tell you what kind of mood you was in when you passed through. I was never anywhere near that good but even today I have a tendency to notice footprints and try to figure out what was happening when the tracks were made. People will often say that they talk with their hands meaning that they gesture a lot but believe it or not we also talk with our feet too. It’s a little more subtle but it’s there in one degree or another. For example, a person deep in thought might have a tendency to move his/her feet in semi-circles as if mapping out their options. As a lefthander I normally take longer strides with my left leg than I do my right. There’s a whole discipline of forensics dedicated footprints.

On a more philosophical note, I sometimes wonder what I would learn about myself if I look into the past and read my own tracks at key moments in my life. Especially those moments when I “built experience” ( AKA made the wrong decision). I’m willing to bet that I would see evidence of talking myself out of what I knew was the right choices. Search & Rescue trackers will often comment that they could tell that a person paused for an extended period facing the right path before turning and heading into danger. We can only see so far into the past but we can be active observers in the present. I don’t think it’s essential to base our decisions on our foot placement but if I catch myself hesitating towards a particular choice I know that I should probably investigate that choice a little closer before walking away from it. And of course ask myself if I’m just trying to take the easy way out for the wrong reasons.

The footprints in the feature image are not mine. They belong to a young lady who I stumbled upon just enjoying Cane Branch that feeds Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge. What do I think that her footprints say? They say “This a great place to enjoy life!”

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Time Uncluttered

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is accredited with saying that “Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished”. In our high maintenance society of modern day planet earth we seem to be constantly on the go. Our lives are constantly governed by the ticking of a clock. Or in my case the prompting of my Google assistant reminding me to check the laundry or change the furnace filter. My smartwatch is constantly buzzing in sync with my phone to remind of one minor task or another. All of this perfectly timed organization allows for us to keep all the balls in the air. But is there an important difference between a full life and a busy life? Lao Tzu’s observation leaves it open to imply that we might be missing something if we are constantly being hurried. Yes Google will help you keep on top of all the important things but only if you remember to set the reminder in the first place. Is it all just cyberneticly enhanced rushing?

I suppose that the answer is in making time for that sense of peace. Sometimes that means that the laundry in the dryer gets a little wrinkled. Sometimes it means that one of the balls that we’re juggling has to be tucked into a pocket for a little while as we enjoy the graceful spiral of a snail’s shell found on the edge of a trail that we really hadn’t planned on walking that day.

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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