Ice Boxes and Refrigerators

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

3/15/18

Note from the Author
Readers may have noticed a months-long interruption in this blog. That’s because life got in the way. Or rather, death. There occurred the last illness and death of a loved one, followed by all that must be done after someone dies, and that was a demanding time. Afterward, as so many caregivers do, I got sick. But now the green blade riseth again, and I am well, and I hope you will excuse my temporary absence and enjoy the future with me.

___________________________

Southern Refrigerators

A friend from California said to me that we in Enchanted Habitat are strange in that we keep goods in the refrigerator that don’t need to be there. “Like what?” I said. “Sugar, flour, baking soda, shortening,” (Californians don’t say Crisco). “Shall I go on?” she said.
“But those do need to be refrigerated! They’ll spoil,” I said. Then I said, “At least they might get stale. And no bugs can get to them in the refrigerator.”
She gave me a look that said the West Coast equivalent of, “Bless your heart,” and we left it at that.

Afterward I thought about it, and the next time I bought a pound of flour I tried putting it in a container on a shelf in the pantry, but I just couldn’t do it. All of my people have put everything they could in the refrigerator, dating from the time they got refrigerators. Which hasn’t been that long ago, depending how old you are. Some of us are still around who forget and say icebox when we mean refrigerator.  I remember The Ice Man coming with huge blocks to stock the icebox when I was maybe five.

A wrinkle in time.

The Ice Man. Out of a storybook. Awesome in the original meaning of the word. Drove up in a covered truck filled with 50-pound ice cubes sitting in clean wet orange sawdust. Big man, because he had to be.  Wore tall wet black rubber boots. A wet brown leather shield covered his back as protection from the blocks of ice he gripped with iron tongs as long as I was, and slung over his shoulder.

Almost back to now.

You know that old hand-me-down icepick you keep in the very back of your kitchen junk drawer so you won’t stick yourself with it?  That thing you use two or three times a year to punch holes, and retrieve small items that fall into crevices, and such, and you would no more throw away than you would a holy relic? There was a time somebody used that to chip ice.

Back to the future.

So yes, if you come to my house and want to bake or fry anything, go first to the refrigerator.

__________________________

From The Creatures Gazette: Rabbit Outruns Dog Every Time

Most nights, in the backyard, comes a rabbit. I think she wants the dog to chase her.  Bunnybunny always wins by many lengths. I swear she enjoys it.  She is faster, and also she has a strategy.  She waits until the dog discovers her, and then runs toward the dog, then makes a sharp turn and circles back and races the whole length of the yard in a full-out, foot-thumping, dog-gasping contest. The dog is always far behind. Bunnybunny exits the yard through a little hole in the fence and disappears into the neighbor’s yard. The dog participates in this non-match with all her heart, same thing over and over, many times a week, and when it ends she is stoic each time. I think she should get a medal for dog-ness. Doggedness.

But aha! one night there was also a guest dog. Two dogs. Guest Dog is half Beagle, half Terrier, but at least this night she was less than the best example of her breeds. She is not the one who “scared up” (as we say here) the rabbit; Home Dog did. When the noisy chase began, and all the way through it, Guest Dog stood around still sniffing things, trying to get information through her nose about what was happening. The rabbit did not believe this could happen: near the end of the chase, with Home Dog far behind as usual, Bunnybunny ran smack into Guest Dog. They were both knocked for a loop. Bunnybunny recovered quickly and left the yard. Guest Dog got up slowly and headed for the house.


The Dirt on Dirt, Please

Have you ever read about the latest archeological dig/discovery that’s gonna redefine history as we know it, and wondered: How do these places get covered up in the first place? where did all that dirt come from?

I don’t mean dirt that already exists and is displaced and pushed around by such as glaciers or dust storms or earthquakes. I mean new dirt. Dirt that somehow made its own self, and over time accrued in such amounts as to bury whole cities; what is that dirt made of?  What is the origin of dirt? 
We all have personal experience of dirt coming mysteriously from nowhere and accruing. I deal with this most notably because it accrues under the little feet-pads of my computer mouse, which then drags. About twice a week I turn the mouse over and scrape its little feet with the letter opener and end up with a tiny pile of detritus of a dark neutral color. But surely, even after a hundred centuries, this kind of micro-particle debris could not account for the burial of Gobekli Tepe. So what does?

Off the top of my head I made a list of some candidate ingredients that might decompose together over a long time and constitute dirt. I will only name some here. The list starts out okay with, “pollen, dust,  human and dog hair,” but then the items tend to get disgusting, beginning with, “dandruff, dead dust mites,” and, believe me, other bits of life you don’t want me to name. But my list would not make enough dirt to matter, even with an addition nominated by my California friend: the item frust, which according to the Urban Dictionary is the small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the dustpan and keeps backing a person across the room until she finally decides to give up and sweep it under the rug.

So if any readers know the answer to the mystery of dirt, kindly enlighten the rest of us.


This is my season for scarcity of home-grown garlic. It’s early Spring and other plants are burgeoning everywhere, but when I go to my pantry and take the lid off my terracotta garlic house and look to see what’s left: naught but two or three cloves. And a long time before I can replenish. Mid-June at the earliest is when the local backyard gardeners harvest. Meanwhile, I’ll get only grocery store garlic. Clean and white, yes, not a speck of dirt in their controlled-looking little roots. But not as clever in the tasties.



(c) Credit for archeological dig photo: Can Stock Photo / herraez

 Copyright 2018 Ruth Byrn

The Holiday That Should Be

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

7/10/17 – 7/30/17

The Holiday That Should Be

Here is what full summer is like here: It’s been almost 100 degrees day after day. Every afternoon a would-be-refreshing rain shower develops twenty miles away and I watch while it exhausts itself before it gets here. Not a flower is blooming in the yard except for the blessed crape myrtles overhead. Everything that could break in the heat has broken, and the budget is in tatters.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

The last holiday was The Fourth of July, many days ago, and the next is Labor Day, many days away. We need an infusion of festivity here.

Let’s have an additional holiday. Let’s have it August 4th. That’s the midpoint between July 4th and Labor Day, September 4th, and this year it’s a Friday and would give us another three-day weekend! That’s something to celebrate right there, but we can also spice it up with a theme.

Mistakes Man

By fiat hereby there shall be Do Over Day. Since there are no original ideas, I’m pleased to borrow part of one from the south of France, and change it somewhat. I would like it if our new holiday is about a town parade behind a big, really big, effigy named  Mistakes Man.  He looks like a mix between a wonky giant and a mess. He is made of water soluble materials. The parade ends in late afternoon in the middle of the Broadway Bridge. There are drums and tambourines and big dissonant alpine cowbells, and all the people, with a great communal shout, join in throwing Mistakes Man into the river. He dissolves completely.

As the last trace of him melts, a new and even bigger effigy is heaving happily into sight: Do Over.

Do Over

She’s basically the shape of a tomato hornworm but her skin is made of swathy pastel blues, turquoises, golds, and red-golds. She hunches herself toward the crowd, two yards per hunch, and when she arrives all the people turn away from staring down at the water where Mistakes Man was. We gather behind Do Over and follow her toward our dwellings and our festival suppers. We are singing a cappella a sweet simple folk song as the sun goes down.

Back at home we feast, of course, trying not to gobble the main courses too fast in anticipation of our traditional Do Over Day dessert. The Mommyselves have made it ahead of time in skillets handed down through the generations. And finally here it is: Raspberry Swirl Cake!

The recipe is no secret. It has been on Facebook. We want the world to know it:

Ingredients
1.Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix and its ingredient list
2. Seedless raspberry preserves (approximately  5 oz)
3. Greek raspberry yogurt (1 small container, approximately 5 oz)
Steps
1. Make cake mix with the following modifications:
A) instead of “1 C water”: add enough water to the yogurt so as to make 1-1/8 C altogether, and mix thoroughly, and add to cake mix
B) mix the cake mix per its instructions and pour half into a greased #10 iron skillet
C) liquefy the raspberry preserve via microwaving
D) swirl half the preserve into the poured mix
E) put the remaining half of cake mix in skillet and swirl in the rest of the preserve.
2. Bake 350 for 35 min.
Don’t put a topping on it, if you want to be authentic. That’s what the swirl is for.

Guest Artist
This beautiful and expressive 9″ X 11″ oil painting by local artist Kelly Hargis is from my collection. It is one of my favorite paintings of all time.

Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn 

Friends in High and Low Places

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

6/11/17 – 6/18/17

 

from Waterfall
by Chris Williamson

When you open your life to the living
all things come spilling in on you
and you’re flowing like a river,
the Changer and the Changed.
You got to spill some over.
Filling up and spilling over, it’s an endless waterfall . . . 


Friends in High and Low Places

The stubborn robin who was in the standoff with me about whether she would build her nest in my patio ceiling fan finally gave up and raised her family somewhere else. I’m glad she wasn’t a Carolina wren. Humans are no match for them.

Wrens are smart, explorative, and bold, and they believe human houses and household accessories are theirs. When one of them scouts your house and gets it in her mind to nest on the patio or porch, you are in for it. It doesn’t matter that they are wee tiny. To begin with, they can scare you half to death.

A friend told me this story. Last year she kept her garden gloves and tools in a rubber bucket by the door on her back porch, which is roofed. She walked within a foot of it two or three times a day without a clue that a bird had appropriated it. Then came a day to tend the garden. My friend said when she reached down into the bucket and the bird exploded up out of there, it scared her so much something changed in her brain. She was left with a permanent aversion to the bucket.

But that’s not all for this friend who is a winner in all ways except wren ways. She has dogs, and she has a doggie door, and sometimes she leaves that open. And this year guess what.

She says it is the same bird who nested in the bucket. AKA the same bird whose little beak cut and removed strands of aluminum wire from the bedroom window screen, trying to get in. She first knew it was in the house when her delicate hanging mobile made crashing sounds instead of tinkles. The dogs never even knew the bird was there. Dogs have senses so much keener than ours, you know. Their mistress ushered them to the other side of the French doors. Then she turned off all the lights and headed toward the back door, thinking to open it wide. But the wren beat her there and zoomed out through the doggie door.

This bird soon chose a place outside the house but still under roof: the vinca basket hanging on the back porch. You can see the nest under construction.

 

 

 

My own latest tale of contests with takeover critters begins and ends with No Contest. A year ago I hung an empty watering can on the patio wall and later found dry grass in it, abandoned bird nest material. I meant to empty and clean it. Meant to only. Now, a bumblebee lives in there. One bumblebee, I think, who, several times a day verrrrry sloooowly and mindfully floats in from its doings like a peaceful monk, and disappears into the can. I figure if I’ve left the can one year I can leave it two. Namaste.

 


‘Tis the Season for the Swimming

However old you are, however many memories you have by now (or don’t), I bet you remember being in the swimming pool in summer when you were a little kid.  I do.

I also have some great memories from when I was older, of teaching little kids to swim. That experience was one of the more worthwhile (and fun!) things I’ve ever done. The picture below is a lesson group of 20 years ago at the YWCA in Little Rock. That institution exists no more in Enchanted Habitat,  I’m sorry to say.

Swim Kids

‘Tis Also the Season for Fresh Garlic

My friend gifted me with newly harvested garlic just in time. Last year’s was getting  sparse in its terra cotta house, and showing signs it might be about to go off. Only garlic could last a year anyway. And the new crop is all that the old was. Thank you Friend, thank you Earth, thank you Garlic!

 


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

Waterfall photo copyright Can Stock Photo

Carolina wren photo from Wikimedia Commons by John Flannery from Richmond County, North Carolina, USA – Carolina Wren, CC BY-SA 2.0

Wild Berries, Peasant Bread, Hillbilly Bruschetta

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

6/4/17 – 6/10/17

 

The Berries are Ripening Here!

Do you like blueberries? Blackberries? Both? In Enchanted Habitat you can be very happy soon.  My Good Gardener Friend keeps me informed of her blueberries’ progress from green-ness through peachy-ness to indigo-ness. This sketch was their state two days ago. I love looking at them better than eating them: my true love is The Wild Blackberry, and those are getting ripe too.

It’s hard for me to write about wild blackberries without getting excessive.

The best way to eat blackberries begins with picking them yourself. Find a wild patch on your own, or ask people until you find someone who knows. Folk who know are the kind likely to share the treasure map with you. (No one is likely to give you actual berries they’ve picked; we are mere mortals after all.) Prepare against chiggers and snakes, put on long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and a straw hat for sheer effect, hang a bucket in the crook of your arm, and wade into the thorny brambles to where the best ones are. If you have scouted out a good patch, when you finish your fingers will be punctured and sore to the bone, your skin ripped in several places along with the so-called protective clothing, you will itch in unscratchable places, and you will take home a third to a half bucketful of berries. Wash them gently to get the occasional bugs out. Put a handful of the berries in a single-size bowl. Pour a little genuine heavy cream over them. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on, and stir to dissolve it.  Dive in. If you are of my spiritual clan the pain in your fingers will transpose into a set of wondrous sensations at the back of your tongue and also you will forget every other trouble you ever had.

Your brain will recognize the distilled flavor of the cosmos itself, from the moment of The Big Bang until now.

If I’ve made Wild Blackberry Eating sound like the quest and finding of the holy grail, it just about is.

Commercially grown blackberries are a step down, and it’s an exponential step, but if I can’t get the real thing I’m not too proud to eat bought ones. They don’t cause me to rhapsodize though.

 


Roadside Wildflowers

While you’re at the roadsides looking for blackberries you may notice that the crimson clover is out of season now and gone, replaced largely by Queen Anne’s lace and black-eyed Susans.  Thanks to the U. of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service for this photo of the prolific Queen Anne’s lace, with elegant flowers that actually do look like exquisite handmade lace and are sometimes the size of saucers.

The black-eyed Susans are the perfect visual complement to the Queen Anne’s lace, in color and in shape. I will leave you to look below and imagine that their petals are yellow-orange and their centers are black-brown, and that they are  contraposed against their  companion “weeds”.


Hillbilly Bruschetta

The first of the homegrown tomatoes are coming in at the farmers’ market! If I made it sound like wild blackberries are my favorite food–they are, and so are homegrown tomatoes. One way I like to eat good tomatoes is: bruschetta on homemade bread.

We didn’t have bruschetta here when I grew up. It’s an import. I discovered it well into my middle-age, and an old dog can teach herself a new trick. I first tasted it at the local Olive Garden. Their servings of it are sparing, which is what my grandmother taught me to say instead of chinchy or stingy. Also they drain the juice out of it, the best part. Like any born-and-bred woman of Enchanted Habitat, my initial thought was, “Hmm. This is pretty good but I could make it  better–and enough of it.” Here is the resulting recipe. Click to enlarge.

Now as to the bread– not that all I can think about is food–here is my favorite to go with hillbilly bruschetta.  I got this simple, superb recipe when a friend of 60 years re-posted it on Facebook. I don’t think I ever had the name of the woman who originally shared it; my hat is off to her. Below is my lift of the recipe. She didn’t name it, so I gave it a title.

Crusty Bread Baked in Cast Iron Pot


From The Creatures Gazette

Among our faerie folk here is a strain who masquerade as man-made objects.  They are usually motionless when mortals are around. One of them lives close to the door of El Porton restaurant in Little Rock, and the other day I may have seen him move.

 


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

Come Saturday Morning

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

5/27/17 – 6/3/17

Come Saturday Morning

It is the second Saturday after the schools let out for summer. The streets in my neighborhood are extra friendly to pedestrians and riders of non-motorized wheeled things. Pre-teen boys especially appreciate the locale, and I’m hoping some will ride by and grace the view out there. Last year a small group met up at the intersection near my house most of the Saturday mornings of the season. Boys of any age don’t much hold still, but I did manage to get this sketch of them.

Later I took a photo and did this painting of two of them who lasted as a pair longer than the others. They put me in mind of a song of 1970.

Come Saturday Morning

Come Saturday morning
I’m goin’ away with my friend
We’ll Saturday-spend til the end
of the day
Just I and my friend
We’ll travel for miles in our
Saturday smiles
And then we’ll move on
But we will remember long after
Saturday’s gone

(Music by Fred Karlin, lyrics by Dory Previn)

 


Two Rivers Park

Two Rivers Park, Little Rock, AR, USA

We of the county and the city where I live were blessed in recent years to have had governmental officials who cared about nature and beauty and about our citizens’ ability to access those. These good leaders took actions to turn visions into reality. One result is our county’s remarkable Two Rivers Park.

I live in midtown and I can get to the park in 15 minutes, thanks in part to a new pedestrian bridge at its eastern tip. You can see the bridge in the lower right hand corner of the photo if you enlarge this photo.

This huge (1,000 acres) park is a peninsula bordered by the Arkansas River on its north side and the Little Maumelle River on its south. The two rivers converge at the tip of the park; thus its name.

There are 450 acres of mostly wooded wetlands and 550 acres of open fields.

This incredible getaway place offers both paved and dirt trails for walking, cycling, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Also there are canoe launching, fishing and picnic areas.

If you want to have a big vegetable garden you can rent a tract there, and be in company with other community gardeners.

Deer live there year-around, protected. The haiga/haiku below was inspired by one of several encounters with the deer.

The deer will watch you calmly unless you come too close; then they magically melt away and become invisible in the high growth of the fields.

Hundreds of Eastern bluebirds are there sometimes. Can you imagine looking across a field and realizing you are seeing hundreds of bluebirds? And other wildlife of course. It is a paradise for birdwatchers, photographers, artists, and nature enthusiasts.

There is also an area that showcases native trees by transforming some of the fields into a walkable Garden of Trees.

The park is a connected part of the Arkansas River Trail, which is a fantastic story unto itself, a topic in a later blog post.

 


Speaking of Bluebirds

© 2017 dosankodebbie

One thing does lead to another. Serendipitously my friend dosankodebbie in Japan posted this photo of her latest etegami today. If you don’t already know about etegami, it is Japanese postcard art done according to certain guidelines. One of my favorite kinds of art to do, and to look at. There is a great Facebook Group, Etegami Fun Club, administered by Debbie. If you are interested in learning (free!) how to do etegami, go to dosankodebbie’s online summary.

 


In the Green Cathedral

The butter lilies in the back yard have been coming and going for a week.

 Once again, great gratitude to the previous owner of this house. The lilies line the back fence. I’ve lived here about 20 years and they’ve never failed to rise up out of the ground and add their glory to creation.

 

 


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

Akashic Pasta

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

5/15/17 – 5/26/17

High Calorie Out-of-this-World One-Dish Pasta Meal

Here is a recipe that came to me from the akasha and is good eating.

If you are an experienced cook you will know the proportions you like for the ingredients. If inexperienced, be generous with everything and then adjust according to your taste. If you are watching your weight you should not even read this.

Kalamata olives enchanted.jpg

Ingredients
Penne Pasta, cooked and drained, but still hot
Smoked Gouda Cheese, cubed. Prep it ready to stir in and go melty in the hot drained pasta.
Fajita Chicken Strips, cooked, cubed. (If frozen, defrost.)
Tomatoes,  whole medium fresh (or canned) diced. Include the juice.
Green Peas, fresh (or frozen and defrosted), uncooked or slightly cooked.
Kalamata Olives, whole, pitted, drained
Mayonnaise (be generous)
Seasoned Rice Vinegar (be generous)
Salt

Directions
Stir everything together in a big bowl.


Good Manners in Enchanted Habitat

A friend who grew up in California and moved here observes that we in Enchanted Habitat have at least three nicenesses she’s never noticed anywhere else.

One, I have named the Mandatory Entryway Compliment (MECompliment).
When we as a guest enter someone else’s home, we always, somewhere near the front door, find a way to say something that sounds admiring about the place. Such as, “Oh your yard is so nice!” or “Oh, hardwood floors are so wonderful, aren’t they!” Women usually include the exclamation points. Also, even if it is the tenth time we’ve been there we find still again something else nice to say, or at least find a new way to say a previous thing.

Only if the householder might be our mother or BFF might we exempt ourselves from the MECompliment.

Or if we want to be covertly rude.

Next, there is Making Small Talk About The Weather (MSTATWeather). My grandmother taught me how to do it and why, and this ability has served me all my life. But it only works in the company of people who also know how to do it. Unfortunately not everyone does. It would help us if more did. It takes at least two to tango here, and if you are the only one doing MSTATWeather, and the others think instead that what you are doing is really talking about the weather, then you’re going to get some odd looks if you persist.

 (Never expect a Californian to MSTATWeather. California doesn’t have weather to begin with. Here, we have real grist for the mill.)

The reason for MSTATWeather is the same as one of the reasons for MEComplimentit gives people something socially safe to talk about. Further, MSTATWeather can be counted on as an inexhaustible subject if need be. The MECompliment is not meant to last as a discussion topic, and is is about five degrees toward personal, so you have to be a tad careful. But the MECompliment is the one that also has secondary purpose. When you say a MECompliment to your host/ess, you are sending a clear signal that your feeling about them is positive–without being obsequious. Is that a clever folkway, or what!

Our third niceness reported by my friend, I call Never Taking The Last Piece (NTTLPiece). No one ever taught me NTTLPiece, I just always knew it. I assume it is a genetically transmitted behavior. The last hors d’oeuvre, the last ear of corn, the last glassful of wine in the bottle, the last spoonful of the mashed potatoes. No matter how much we secretly want it, we will decline it. And then there it is, one lonely little serving that the hostess has to do something with after everyone goes. Unless someone in the party was not from here.

My Californian friend tole me this true story:
After a potluck, one little square of exquisite homemade lemon bar remained. A woman was trying to get someone, anyone, to take it. This woman genuinely didn’t want it herself, and she was not from here originally. My Californian friend said to her, “You’re not going to get anyone to take that. They’re all from here and they never take the last piece of anything.” The woman said, “Oh God, that’s why my husband does that!”


From the Creatures Gazette

Cicadas Gone ‘Til 2028

Last appearing in May/June 2015, the 13-year cicadas will not appear again for 11 years more.  Although this strain is only one of the cicada types inhabiting central Arkansas, it is likely the most numerous in terms of individual insects. Until 2028 fewer children will find and shudder at and show each other empty husks left hanging on tree trunks after the nymphs dig themselves out of the ground and free themselves to be real noisy insects.


Hooray for the Home Grown Farmers’ Markets!

They’re here and open again! Worth every penny. The only other thing to say is, I’ll be so glad when it’s time for tomatoes. 


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

Now the Green Blade Riseth

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

5/13/17 – 5/14/17

Plantain

 Now the Green Blade Riseth, Love is Come Again  

My ancestors called this graceful plant Lamb’s Tongue. It is Narrowleaf Plantain, Plantago Lanceolata, aka Ribwort Plantain, English Plantain, and maybe other names.

It has a close cousin which also lives here: Broadleaf Plantain. Much of what can be said of one is true of the other.

Lamb’s Tongue is newly up and blooming here in Enchanted Habitat, on the roadsides, empty lots, uncultivated fields, and unmowed lawns. It grows fast. Two weeks ago it wasn’t there at all, and now it is leafed out and in flower knee high. I love seeing it. (Broadleaf Plantain must come up somewhat later than its cousin; I haven’t seen it yet this year.)

This elegant plant is astonishingly durable and very friendly to humans. It is documented to have existed in what is now Norway 10,000 years ago. It can and does live anywhere from dry roadsides to places as wet as rain forests. The oval-shaped part at the end of the long delicate stem (named “the ovoid inflorescence”, I learned) is made up of tiny white flowers that produce one or two seeds each. The plant also reproduces asexually by cloning. Needless to say it is widespread in the world.

It is native to Eurasia and was introduced to the U.S. from the British Isles, and is so common it is generally classified as an invasive weed, which strikes me almost as a personal insult.

Older generations of folk ate the leaves of both Narrowleaf and Broadleaf Plantain for food and also used them for medicine.

It was probably a staple in the diet and pharmacy of any Stone Age people who lived where it grew. It is high in calcium and Vitamin A, and can be eaten similarly to spinach or other food greens: young leaves can be eaten raw, and older leaves cooked.

Medicinally, science has shown that plantain extract has a wide range of good biological effects including wound healing, reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and acting as an antioxidant; further, it is a weak antibiotic, it modulates the immune system, and is an anti-ulcerogenic agent. Our ancestors made a remedy tea from the leaves for coughs, diarrhea, and emotional trauma. Also the leaves, bruised, were used directly on the skin for infections and as a pain reliever for injuries, insect bites, splinters, boils, and toothache. It is known as a drawing herb, said to have the power to pull out toxins and foreign substances from the body. Some herbal healers have said it draws out bad emotions and soothes the mind.

http://wildernessarena.com/food-water-shelter/food-food-water-shelter/food-procurement/edible-wild-plants/plantain-broad-and-narrow-leaf

Wikipedia.

Here are photos of Narrowleaf and Broadleaf Plantain, respectively, thanks to Wikipedia.

 

 


 

The Green Cathedral

My backyard is “too shaded” because of many big trees on two sides. Its grass is thin in places and never thick in others. This non-lawn and the flower bed and the shrub bed that have both been there for many years are home to a sequence of flowering plants that wake up spontaneously every year and bloom in their turn as their seasons arrive, with no help from me unless you count admiration.

Some of the flowers are wild and some are cultivars put in as long ago as half a century by the house’s one former owner. I will be forever grateful to her.

So far this year the backyard flowers have been Carolina Spring Beauty–here is an on-site photo of those from this year– plus Jonquils, Dogwood, Dandelions, Azaleas, Fleabane, Iris of three kinds, Hyacinth, Henbit, Violets, Roses, and Wild Strawberry blooms.

And some mushrooms, always exquisite. I repeat, I did nothing to cause all this wonder.

The one dogwood tree is old and elegantly thin. Having already quietly bloomed and finished, it is putting out leaves. Companion to the dogwood is its contemporary, a crape myrtle with multiple trunks, each six inches thick. The color of the trunks is unnameable, a neutral soothing color. Two of them have twined around each other. They will put out their watermelon-colored blooms later in the year when the sun rises higher.  Four large oak trees survive to live inside the fence. A years-old thick wild grape vine has formed an arbor at a far corner.

Lining the outside of the fence on two sides and part of another are tall oaks and pines growing in the neighbors’ back yards and overhanging my yard, and behind those trees are more big trees, altogether creating almost a forest around me.

Leading out from the house into all this (and back in) is a short stretch of flagstones with moss of a refreshing lime color that couldn’t live with more sun.

I like it that the yard is “too shady”. It is very green out there, the kind of green that can become part of you, the same as your breath, to renew and reassure you. I am put in mind of a song from high school glee club, the music and the words vibrating through us.

I know a green cathedral,
a hallowed forest shrine
where trees in love join hands above
to arch your prayer and mine.
Within its cool depths sacred,
the priestly cedar sighs
and the fir and pine lift arms entwined
unto the clear blue skies. 


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn