Crows Are Back

Maggie and I noticed that when the crows begin to congregate again that Fall is just around the corner. Well they started congregating this week and my how noisy they are this year! Some mountain folks say that when they come back for the Winter season and are unusually noisy, it means an unusually colder Winter is at hand. This might be a “wives tale,” but it might be the truth. Mountain folks consistently rely on the traditions and the folklore here. We have noticed that a  lot of their simple predictions “do” come true.

Crows are really beautiful creatures, in my opinion. They may not necessarily seem “regal,” but they do seem very self-confident. And they are a very smart species. They can remember your face and a kind deed that was done to them. Their memory is incredible. They cache food. And, as Aesop’s fables recount, they are smart enough to know to place pebbles in a vessel to bring the water high enough for them to drink.

Maggie and I love nature. Any new tidbit of information about a particular flora or fauna is always fascinating to us.Crow

Whether or not our Winter is colder because of the crows’ noisiness, it is always fascinating to come across some native folklore that can be passed down by word of mouth over many generations. Just knowing that through communication of generation to generation we can still pass on information is reassuring. Even if we did not have books or computers, information would still pass down on a regular basis. I like seeing the patience, persistence, strength of will, and the desire of our Boston Mountain folks and how simple means of communication, like word of mouth, will not be matched by all of our new technology.

Okay, enough of my rant for the day!

Caw! Caw! Caw!

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Snow Moon Soon

Full Moon

Full Moon (Photo credit: kennytyy)

“Snow Moon” is the name of our February full moon. This is the most common name, but seeing as how there is no formal full moon name “register”, I find the “Hunger” moon name also fitting. Our native Americans were very practical in the names they attached to the full moons each month. Each being named for an important aspect of the particular season of the year when the full moon arrives. Naturally, our largest snowfalls normally occur in February. With snow on the ground, and hunting difficult, the native Americans found themselves a bit more hungry in February than they would be in March, when temperatures rose and hunting was easier. As I have said before, the native Americans were so very “spot on” with their practical approach to each season and the positive results they knew would come from “milking” each season and its harvest for “all it was worth!” I stand in awe at how well they used every waking hour and every shard of nature’s bounty to their families benefit.

“You all” know my obsession with full moons. I feel a personal spirituality about how they affect our attitudes and “where withal.” Maggie & I try very hard to experience each one with “glee.”  Lots of “glee” coming on February 25th…be there!

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Coyotes…Madrigals High On The Far Ridge

Wonders abound down here in “Lizard Holler.” One wonder is the beautiful choral melodies of the coyotes harmonizing high on the far ridge. There is no rhyme or reason to when the music might begin, or how  long a particular session might last. When the coyotes start howling it is one of those rare pleasures of living way out here in the Boston Mountains. We have noticed that the beginning of a distant choral work generally begins with a solo performer howling with a painfully lonesome melody. After the solo is over, then comes the ensuing full chorus. Most mountain folk find the coyote a real nuisance. Maggie and I always try to find the “good” in everything that happens around us. With this in mind we find the howling chorus a rare, unblemished gem in the creeping darkness near sunset.

Everything has its place in the natural world around us. The coyotes howling chorus might be a frightening and eerie sound to others, but we find it as yet another fringe benefit to living here in the deep woods of western Arkansas.

Coyote

I wrote a haiku last year I want to share.

 

 

Winter madrigals                                                                                             Coyotes harmonizing                                                                                       High on the far ridge

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Mountain Lure/Lore/Love Of The “Pick-Em-Up” Truck

“Maggie,  my sweet darling,…we need a “pick-em-up” truck to tote our firewood and your garden dirt”

Be careful for what you wish for, because now we own one!

984 Ford F-100 Pickup

Boston Mountain “Pick-Em-Up” Truck

Thanks to Maggie’s “eagle” eye for “back-country” roadside bargains, and the fact she will never pay the “posted” price, we are now proud owners of a classic, faded red 1983 Ford F-100 pickup truck. A “haggle” here and a “haggle” there, and plotting our leaving to return the next day, clinched the “rock bottom” low price of $750. Maggie has quite the mix, when it comes to varied bloodlines, so the innate sum of her heritage “haggling” talents broke the seller down. Broke him down hard. His advertised price was $1000. You gotta love Maggie for her bargaining savvy.

Now to the “lure/lore/love” aspect of my post today, pickup trucks are akin to a cowboy’s horse from over a century ago. If an outlaw stole a cowboy’s horse it was like cutting off his arms and legs. A cowboy without his horse was helpless. That is why they had a custom of hanging someone who stole a man’s horse.

Pickups are the mountain man/woman’s version of a horse, in my opinion. Without a pickup, a mountain man/woman is helpless too. Pickups have served a myriad of purposes since their inception. Toting, towing, traveling, hunting, fishing, mudding, camping, and the younger generation’s use for “spooning,”are just a small sampling of necessary uses the pickup truck serves. Pickups also can be status symbols. Many mountain men & women spend untold amounts of money outfitting their personal “statements.”  Then their are “restorers” who travel back in time and relive the glory of “days gone by” and spend equal amounts of money re-creating that lost moment in time.

Boston Mountain farmers, bankers, teachers, ranchers, mechanics, lawyers, doctors, and “et. al.” share a common “longing” when it comes to the veritable “pick-em-up” truck. Cars are for “city slickers,” trucks are for the true mountain folk.

Our truck now has a new use. It is a common use called “honey-do.” Maggie just points and says “honey, do this, do that.” Doesn’t matter if I am now a mountain man, I learned a long time ago “which side the bread is buttered on.”…later my friends…

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Crows Are Back

 

Crow on a branch Galerie Janette Ostier, Paris

Crow on a branch Galerie Janette Ostier, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maggie & I noticed that when the crows begin to congregate again that Fall is just around the corner. Well they started congregating this week and my how noisy they are this year! Some mountain folks say that when they come back for the Winter season and are unusually noisy, that it means we will have a colder Winter. Might be a “wives tale,” but it might be the truth. Mountain folks rely on the traditions and the folklore here and a lot of their simple predictions come true, we have noticed.

Whether or not our Winter is colder because of the crows’ noisiness, it is always interesting to come across some native folklore that is passed down by word of mouth over many generations. Just knowing that through communication of generation to generation we can still pass on information is reassuring. Even if we did not have books or computers, information will still pass down on a regular basis. I like seeing the patience, persistence, strength of will, and the desire of our Boston Mountain folks and how simple means of communication, like word of mouth, can still not be matched by our new technology.

Okay enough of my rant for the day! Caw! Caw! Caw!

 

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Blue Moon Soon!

Blue moon soon! You know me and my obsession with the moon. On the 1st day of August and the 31st day of August this year we get to enjoy a full moon. August brings a “blue moon” this year! It is said that two full moons in the same month means that the second one is called a “blue moon.”  Actually a fourth full moon in a season is the correct definition of a “blue moon.” Calling the second full moon within one month a “blue moon” is not traditionally correct, though it does occur. Whichever definition you ascribe to I still think it is special to have two full moons rising in the same calendar month.

Katrina Rief-Derrico says that “in some cultures the second full moon was considered a very holy and auspicious day. A time when the veil between heaven and earth is thin and the ability to communicate with the gods and goddess is very powerful. It is considered a very spiritually significant time for prayer and meditation going back thousands of years.”

The moon as seen during the day. The moon can ...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whatever folklore or tradition that is tied to the “blue” full moon, Boston mountain folks have always welcomed them with awe. I believe we have always loved the effect the moonlight has on the land during each unique season.

Anyway, look up in the sky on the 1st and the 31st of August and make your own celestial assumptions.

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In Praise Of The Lowly Boston Mountain Bean

Today I sing praises for the lowly Boston Mountain bean. A myriad of  different varieties does she offer. Behold her strength. Behold her beauty. How ever increasingly our strength builds with our intake of her many bountiful benefits. Long considered a “second-hand” protein, I wish to correct this flagrant disregard for our small entity and herald her “second-coming” into our busy, malnourished mountain society.

What do you think our early mountain ancestors consumed, before they had a mess of chickens or a herd of cattle? Beans! We have heard of the “incredible, edible egg,” but what of the “bountiful, benevolent bean?” Humor me and I will tell you of the great benefits offered by our lowly bean.

Beans

Beans

“Soak, soak, soak your beans! Gently overnight! Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, cook and eat, …delight!”

You have to “soak” your beans. Absolutely! Ideally overnight. Otherwise “you reap what you sow.” Soaking beans rids them of the sugars that cause flatulence. It also cleanses them of toxins, fecal matter, contaminants, and all manner of nastiness. It allows the beans to be ready to offer their “best shot!”. The most vitamins and minerals, and protein and fiber. A major plus is that you can control the exact cooking “doneness” you desire.  Always pour off the soaking water, rinse them, and proceed to cook them in fresh water. Basically if you soak and rinse your beans, it is as if they have had a “Spa” treatment.

Beans have always been the “go to” compliment to any meal here in the mountains. Taters are good, but beans are best! Beans grow really well here and you can store them indefinitely! Please excuse my “Rave,” but I’ve never met a bean I did not personally enjoy! The only necessary seasoning for a bean, in my opinion, is the lowly onion. You can read my earlier post about my praise for them also.

Red beans and rice? Sure! Why not Black beans and rice? Why not White beans and rice? Why not “ANY” beans and rice? I am a chef by trade, but everybody is a chef in their own right! If you have a favorite  bean, be adventurous! Experiment! When cooking beans, you are only limited by your imagination, or lack of. Beware though, beans without a “soak” will lead to the “bloat.”….just sayin’….

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“tiggers and chicks”

Memorial Day weekend, while “welcoming” the Summer season, we mountain folks “unwelcome” the arrival of the worst pests of the year. Chiggers and ticks!

Tick

Tick

“Tick checks” are “business as usual” down here in Lizard Holler. When Maggie and I return to our air-conditioned abode the first order of business is the “tick check.” While this can be reasonable fun, for consenting adults, this ritual is a necessary evil down here in the woods. One cannot wait until bedtime because the little “buggers” will be securely attached and devouring your flesh by then.

We have found our only true method of preparation, for spending time in our garden, is to “grease” down our skin entirely. We do try to use repellents that are natural. Lemon balm is full of natural citronella. We include it in our homemade “bug grease.” Mountain folks have used it through many generations. We mix orange oil, lemon balm tincture, and Avon’s “Skin So Soft.” It really works well keeping bugs at bay.

Chigger

Chigger

So remember, when you come back in the house from a fervent visit to the garden, lift your skirts and pull down your pants. It’s “tick check” time. One of the simple pleasures, down here in Lizard Holler.

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Milk Moon Soon

Early mountain settlers had a particularly interesting name for each full moon throughout the coming year. Each name was notification of some important aspect for the arrival of every new month. This year’s full moon for May coincides with “cinco de mayo.”

Supermoon

Supermoon

Folks up here called May’s full moon by three names, “planter’s moon,” “milk moon,” or “flower moon.” Many cultures have assigned their own individual names, such as the Chinese, naming their May full moon the “dragon moon.” Well, our three names seem to make perfect sense with their singular definitions.

Now, in addition to the arrival of the full moon, this particular one will be our “Supermoon” for the year 2012. It will be the brightest because it will be the closest one to earth this year. Watch for it just after sunset. It will seem to be larger than it really is when it arrives at the horizon. Many mountain folks believed that with the moon so close that it actually would help draw the plants up out of the soil quicker.

Personally, I’m not so worried about how quick my plants rise up. I only wish that they live and produce well this year. Maybe the Supermoon will offer a bit more encouragement for my plants this year.

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Tree Frogs…Spring Harbingers

You know Spring has arrived here in the Boston Mountains when the tree frogs begin their “reeeee…reeeee” chorus just before twilight each day. Their chorus reaches a crescendo around the June solstice and retires with diminished fervor in late October. They basically offer their musical chorus from equinox to equinox every year. Being a city boy for my first 45 years, all we relied on for our seasonal chorus was the crickets and cicadas scratching sounds. Naturally tree frogs become attracted to our pond below our back yard. They are curious souls, and that is why I caught one on my kitchen window and was able to snap the picture I have posted here.

Daffodils and plum blossoms are the visual harbingers that alert us Spring is not far away, but the tree frogs serve as our aural harbingers. Their plaintive song becomes endearing after only one season. Maybe it is the pitch of their song, or maybe the distinctive rhythmic harmony with their fellow singers, that sets their music apart from the other sounds of nature here in the mountains.

Anyhow, it serves yet another purpose, in the grand scheme of things, If you sit down on the porch and immerse yourself in the beauty of their tones, their song becomes a soothing, calming resolve after a  hard day pursuing your work and your dreams. It is almost as if they are gently massaging your temples and your shoulders. We have many free remedies here in the mountains and I must laud the tree frogs for their unselfish gift of their therapeutic song.

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