Squirrel Corn..(continued from Dutchman’s Breeches)

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

A couple of weeks after the Dutchman’s Breeches bloom the Squirrel Corn comes out. The two species are closely related but Squirrel Corn bloom has more of a waxy texture and is often tinged with pinks, reds or purple as seen in the feature image. If Dutchman’s Breeches resemble a fairy’s pants then Squirrel Corn would make a fancy hat.

If you compare tonight’s feature image with last night’s the first thing that stands out to me is the lack of bright yellow on the tips and the more rounded shape of the lobes at the top. The leaves are so similar to each other that I can’t really tell the difference without a bloom. And for those who wish to have native landscaping they can be planted together in order to extend the blooming season. A third relative is bleeding heart. I have yet to spot bleeding heart in the wild myself but I would imagine it could be intermixed with the first two for more color.

Both Dutchman’s Breeches and Squirrel Corn are pollinated by queen bumblebees so if you have these plants then you have bumblebees close by.

Because I’ve been writing about wild edible plants I need emphasize that none of plants mentioned in this article are edible. To the best of my knowledge all three are toxic and best used for aesthetic purposes only. I feel blessed to have them wild near my home when they just seem to appear like magic and being beauty to my world.

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Dutchman’s Breeches

Hello Friends!Tonight’s feature image is titled “Fairy Pants” because the flowers remind me of Tinkerbell’s laundry. All of the photos are my original work and are available as prints by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

The forest floor has started to wake up. Each little wildflower I encounter on my short walk today was like a smile from God himself. I spotted wild geranium, trout lily, spring beauty, cohosh, may apples and others that will be covered in future posts.

Today is about Dutchman’s Breeches. The name, of course, comes from the resemblance to pantaloons. When I think about it, it’s easy to imagine that somewhere on the forest floor a tiny fairy sits on a mushroom waiting for her laundry to get dry.

Dutchman’s Breeches have no food or medicinal value that I’m aware of. In fact the USDA warns that they are toxic to livestock. However, that depends on your definition of medicine. Ingesting the plant is certainly not recommended and they don’t really have a pleasant scent if you crush them but the beauty they bring in early Spring is therapeutic for the soul.

Dutchman’s Breeches are also part of the natural calendar that I’ve written about a few times. They’re not edible themselves but they bloom at about the right time to dig ramps. (For my non Appalachian friends, ramps are a strong flavored wild leek). I have know of a patch of ramps close by and will try to get a good photo of them soon ( Which is harder than it sounds because patches of ramps are fiercely guarded by landowners).

Dutchman’s Breeches are an indicator species. Wherever they bloom the soil is going to be slightly acidic. If you wanted to grow something like blueberries and you have Dutchman’s Breeches then you’re going to need soil amendments in order for your blueberries to live. As mentioned above their presence also accompanies several other useful and beautiful woodland herbs. Most of them will be covered on a Forage Friday post but for now we have the beauty of the little white flowers that resemble pants.

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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

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Refilling

Hello Friends!Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Ready For Refill” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

The thunder of the steel wheels and diesel engine quells to a rumble as the brakes screech. The train is approaching the tipple ready to carry another load out of the mountains. Empty cars clatter as they bump into each other when the train slows down. One by one the engine pulls them into position under the chute to be filled by the men who pull light out of the darkness.

There’s always going to be those days when we’ve given it all we’ve got and there is no more. We start of with a full load of whatever it is that we have to deliver. For the most part a trainload of coal will be delivered to a single destination but for the purpose of the illustration let’s suppose that the payload is divided up between several places. The train starts off with a mile of cars in tow. It stops and drops a few cars here and a few cars there. Sooner or later it will need to return home to refill.

We as humans start off with a load of whatever it is that we have to provide for those in need. All of it can be defined as one form of energy or the other. It could be spiritual energy in the form of prayers for those in need, or food for the hungry. Perhaps it’s simply our labor that we sell a little piece at a time to an employer. But whatever form it takes it’s a certain amount of our life’s energy infused into a token. Sooner or later it will run out and will need to refill our cargo and refuel the engine. We need to return home. For me that’s seeking God in the quiet time. It’s rest for mind and spirit as well as my body. I hope that it’s the same for you but however you get refilled it’s a necessary part of life and something that should not be ignored. If we find ourselves just going through the motions then it’s probably because we need to fill up again.

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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Out Of The Darkness

Hello Friends! For well over a year now I have posted at least once per day and to the best of my knowledge I have never recycled a picture. Technically that’s still true because tonight’s feature image is a new version of a previously published image. So I’ve titled the new version “Light At The End Of The Tunnel 2019”. If you would like to purchase a copy please use the contact instructions at the bottom of the bottom of the page.

Some days it feels like you’re on top of the world and nothing can go wrong. But then other days feel more like the world’s on top of you and nothing is working out according to the original vision. It’s going to be okay. The darkness won’t last forever.

Most of us don’t really know how many people are sending prayers on our behalf when troubles come. Especially if we’re busy just trying to survive the darkness. But trust me here, you have far more friends and family that believe in you than you’re aware of. Some of the dark places last a little longer than others but none of them are permanent dwelling places as long as you continue to push forward. Even as I write this I can here the pessimist’ s comments about the light being “a freight train heading your way “. Well, I can tell you that odds of encountering that oncoming train are greater for those who set up camp inside the tunnel than it is for those who continue to push towards the end. In fact, giving up before you reach the light is just about going to guarantee that train encounter so don’t give up! Keep making progress no matter what. Soon you will reach the light and the end of that dark place. And when you step outside of the tunnel remember that it takes some time for your eyes to readjust to the outside world again. There might even be a little pain but that won’t last either. As you rub your eyes and look around you’ll see how much beauty there is surrounding you again. With the darkness behind you and the fresh air filling your lungs I want you to know that we never had any doubts that you would make through.

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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Some Days Are For The Birds

Recently the warm weather allowed me to get out for a few minutes and visit the bird feeder at my dad’s house. Dad goes all out for his little feathered friends. The TV is on but he has his binoculars pressed to his face looking out the window at all the activity in the chestnut trees on the edge of the yard. The term “yard” is kinda used loosely at dad’s place. In general it’s any place where you mow plus just under the trees where the woods begin. As we observe the feeding dad recounts the events at the feeder over the past few days. He hasn’t actually named these birds out loud but he knows all of the species and individuals who frequently visit his yard. He tells me that the Common Flicker in tonight’s feature image is the boss of the yard and how he even challenges and keeps at bay the murder of crows that are larger and outnumber him. He talks about the covey of mourning doves and how one always lands on the feeder and tosses food down to the ground for the rest of them. A Pileated Woodpecker swoops in as dad talks and lands on a dead limb of a hickory tree. He hits the dead wood like a jackhammer and sends wood chips flying everywhere in his search for insects living in the wood. ( I tried to get a nice shot of the Pileated Woodpecker but he’s far too camera shy and took flight as soon as I stepped outside.) Dad has one mortal enemy at his bird feeder and surprisingly it’s not the squirrels. It’s a mob of Common Grackles that have run the bluebirds out of his yard and have even overwhelmed the Flicker on occasion. The former Marine came out in dad’s eyes when he postulated on how to defend his songbirds from the Grackles. A few minutes later he softened a little and said that God had a place for the Grackles too. Most of shots from the window didn’t really turn out well and so I put my wilderness stalking skills to work and began to ease myself closer to the feeder. Most of the birds scattered at first but soon the chickadees returned. Small and agile the chickadees figure they can be gone with a mouthful of food before the human can react. I remained as motionless as a stone until they began to ignore me. As soon as the others saw that I wasn’t chasing after the chickadees they also returned. Then finally the Flicker decided that it was time to let me know that this was his feeder. The others gave way to him as he came in for a landing. He dug into the seed mix and found the one he wanted. Then he flew directly at the camera so fast that I couldn’t adjust the focus. He pulled up at the last moment and landed on the branch above me. Few a few minutes he seemed to play peekaboo by popping out from the tree with the nut in his beak. Finally he tucked it into his hiding spot on an upper branch.

Common Flicker hiding a nut in a tree branch

I watched him repeat this stunt a few times before I went back inside to visit with dad some more and share the photos with him. I’ve been told that some days are for the birds but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I want to encourage you to spend some time birding. The songbirds not only bring much needed beauty to the dull winter climate but also share their beautiful songs and impart a little peace to your morning.

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Blood,Sweat And Steel

Hello Friends! Tonight’s image is titled “Curves In Repetition” and if you want to purchase a copy please see the instructions at the bottom of the page.

When I think about workers laying down the tracks the image in my mind is of burly men with sledgehammers driving the steel. I can hear the hammer ring and feel the sweat of hard labor in the afternoon sun. The air is humid and thick with the smell of the creosote on the heavy wooden crossties. A civil engineer maintains a careful eye on the transit. Being off by a few inches now would mean missing the mark later. The crew works as single unit. Each takes his turn with the hammer in sequence with perfect timing. Somewhere along the way another team welds the sections together into a perfectly seamless pair of ribbons. Everything they do comes at price of aching muscles and stiff backs. The result is a web of steel, wood and concrete that stretches through mountains and valleys and across rivers in a way that adds romantic beauty to the landscape. They are artists and their medium is blood, sweat and steel.

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